Characters: Dean and Sam, OC
Jefferson City, MO 1989
Dean had put him to bed two hours ago, but he couldn’t sleep. He could see the light from the TV flickering in the next room. Dad was supposed to have been home this morning. He promised. He’d promised Dean. He never broke his promises to Dean unless something real bad happened. Sam got out of bed and crept to the door, trying to be really quiet, wanting to ask his brother to come to bed. He could sleep if Dean were there.
“Go back to bed, Sammy.”
Dean sounded like Dad. How did he always know?
“When is he gonna be back, Dean?”
“Soon, kiddo, now go to bed,” Dean turned away from the TV and his tired hazel eyes met Sam’s. Sam saw him smile with those eyes, even as his mouth stayed serious. Sam hadn’t said anything, but the older Dean got, the less he saw the smiles in his eyes. He liked those smiles.
He had no sooner climbed into bed when he heard the pounding at the door.
“Dean,” he heard his father call to his brother. “Let me in, son.”
“What’s the password,” Dean’s voice was hard, and Sam knew that the rifle that was almost as long as Dean was tall was resting comfortably in his brother’s capable hands.
Sam sighed. Dean got to choose this week.
He heard the chain release from the door and the door creak open. He heard Dean’s gasp of surprise and the rifle clatter to the floor. He heard his father groan in pain and he heard something that sounded like someone hitting the floor. He wanted to get up and see, but he was suddenly afraid.
“Son,” Dad’s voice sounded funny. It sounded shaky like Sam’s did when he’d been crying. Was Dad crying? Dad didn’t cry.
“I got it, I got it, Dad,” Dean was saying. Sam could hear his brother moving around and he listened hard to figure out where he was in the small apartment. Kitchenette, bathroom, back to the living room.
“Dean,” Dad started again.
“It’s okay, Dad. It’s okay, now.” Sam heard Dean’s voice, steady, sure. His brother sounded older than Dad. Sam knew he was taking care of it. He knew Dad would be okay now because Dean was there.
“Yeah,” Sam gasped out.
“You still with me?”
“I need to step away a second and get something to splint this with, okay?”
Dean was gone no more than two minutes, but Sam had already started to panic.
“I’m here,” Dean panted. “You hanging in there?”
“Yeah,” Sam said. “It’s not as bad now.”
“I’ll give you something here in a second,” Dean said, wiping the sweat from his brow again as it started to run into his eyes. It was starting to get annoying. He wasn’t even hot anymore. He noticed Sam shiver.
“Let me get this, and we’ll build a fire,” Dean said.
“What about the –“
“I don’t smell anything,” Dean said quickly. “Besides, Sam, it’s dark out there. We’re going to have to wait here until morning and we can get out of here.”
“I don’t like it any more than you do, believe me,” Dean grumbled.
Actually, Sam thought, as he felt Dean steady his fractured leg with what felt like two thick sticks, Dean probably liked it a lot less than Sam. He had a thing about camping since their last encounter with a wendigo.
“No more wendigos,” Sam groaned as Dean shucked his jacket and long-sleeved shirt, then pulled his white T-shirt over his head.
“We drawing a line, there, Sam?”
“Yeah,” Sam looked at his brother, noticing his shivering in the cold at the sudden loss of clothing. He watched Dean cut the T-shirt he’d been wearing into strips. “We don’t do wendigos.”
Dean looked up with a half grin and Sam’s breath caught, seeing his brother clearly in the light of the halogen lamp.
Dean focused on Sam, hearing the change in his brother’s tone. “You okay?”
“Your head, man,” Sam said.
Dean gave him a look that said ‘do I have horns or what’.
“Dude, you’re bleeding all over the place,” Sam said, pointing to the T-shirt.
Dean wiped at what he’d thought was sweat and this time looked at his hand. It was covered in blood. The T-shirt he was cutting up was blood-smeared. He reached up to feel where the worst of the pain had been thrumming and felt about a two inch gash on the side of his head.
“Huh,” he said.
“Huh? You lose a pint of blood and all you can say is huh?”
“Don’t be such a girl, Sam,” Dean scoffed, continuing to cut up the T-shirt. “You know head wounds always look worse than they are.”
“How many fingers am I holding up?”
Dean didn’t bother to look at him. Instead he answered while securing the branches he’d found to Sam’s broken leg. “No more than ten, no less than one.”
“Sam,” he echoed in the same warning tone. “I’m fine, okay?” He lifted his eyes to Sam’s. “I’m fine.”
He had put butterfly bandages across the hole in Sam’s leg and used a couple of the cleaner strips of his T-shirt to pad the wound, then carefully wrapped the bandages around Sam’s leg. The tree limbs might rub on him a little, but the bone wasn’t going anywhere and that was the important thing.
Dean’s shivering increased as he worked; the minute he was done, he pulled his long-sleeved shirt back on, hissing as the material slid over the cuts on his arm. Sam had remained silent after his last decree that he was fine, and was just watching him. Silence on Sam’s part wasn’t all that unusual. Pouting wasn’t either. But as Dean lifted his eyes to his brother’s and saw the stark pain reflected there, he sighed.
“It’s gonna be okay, Sam,” he said.
Sam worked his jaw. He slid his eyes away from Dean in an effort to get himself under control.
“I’m not gonna let anything bad happen to you,” Dean reminded him.
“What about you?” Sam’s voice was soft and Dean saw him shiver.
Dean covered Sam’s chest and arms with his jacket.
“What about me what?”
“What if something bad happens to you?”
Dean swallowed. Sam sounded very young in that moment. “Impossible,” he claimed. “I lead a charmed life.”
The incredulous look Sam shot him caused Dean to grin. He picked up the flashlight and stood slowly, surveying their surroundings. The boulder that had knocked Sam from the cliff rested in a little sloped area just beyond them.
“Well, looks like you picked as good a place as any to stay for the night.”
“You picked it.”
Dean rotated the light over to Sam.
“Yeah. It’s where you landed. I just crawled over to get the flare.”
“Nice. Look, my brother’s a boneless heap on the cave floor… hey maybe he has a flare gun…”
Sam couldn’t help but grin at Dean’s tone. “Just following the rules, man.”
Dean lifted the corner of his mouth in a half grin, crouching down to dig through the duffels. “What number is that, two or three?”
“Bad guys first, soldiers second?”
“Two. He made that rule when I was ten and you almost got killed trying to get him out of the way of that poltergeist in Jackson.”
Dean nodded with a small smile, and handed Sam three pain killers and the only bottle of regular water they had. Sam swallowed them gratefully, pulling Dean’s jacket tighter around him. “Is there a three?”
“I think that’s arbitrary,” Dean said, his eyebrows lifting and he looked to see what else they had with them in their duffels. “It’s either always be prepared, never stop fighting ‘til the fight’s done, or clean up the car before it rusts… y’know depending on his mood.”
Dean felt Sam’s eyes on him as he pulled out the remaining guns, holy water, peanut M&Ms, two spare flares, and the first aid kit. Not much there.
“At least you have provisions,” Sam commented. Dean looked up at him, and noticed his eyes were on the bag of M&Ms.
He grinned. “Never leave home without them.”
Sam watched his brother move the supplies into one duffel, then he cut open the other one, laying it flat. He cut off the handles and stuffed them into the full duffel, then spread the flattened bag over Sam’s legs. Keeping his center of balance low to the ground, Dean cleaned off a space of cave floor just beyond Sam. He handed his brother the bag of M&Ms.
“I’m going to get us some firewood,” he said. “Save me some,” he nodded to the yellow bag.
Sam watched as Dean stood and tensed as he saw his brother’s eyes blink closed with a line of pain between them. Dean swayed on his feet and Sam was sure he was going to topple over. He reached his hand out from under the coat, but Dean managed to steady himself and without another word, turned toward the cave exit.
“I’m fine, Sam,” Dean muttered as he walked outside to gather firewood.
Sam hated that word. Of all the lies his brother told, it was the biggest, most frequent one. Watching Dean’s retreating back until he couldn’t see him anymore, Sam popped an M&M into his mouth.
Chattanooga, TN 1991
“Dude, seriously, go easy on that,” Dean’s voice was stern.
“Because there isn’t much left. You want breakfast, right?”
“Can’t we just… go to the store?”
Dean sighed and looked over at him. Sam could see that it was on the tip of his tongue to play Dad’s ‘because I said so’ card, but he knew Dean hated that as much as he did.
“Because we’re out of money until Dad gets back, and I don’t want to…”
Sam nodded so that Dean didn’t have to finish. He didn’t want to have to steal food again. He hated it – mostly because of the danger of being caught. Dean was good, but if he slipped up, it would mean the end for their family.
“What about you?”
“I’m fine, Sammy,” Dean held up a one pound bag of peanut M&Ms, half-gone. Sam stared at it. Dean had been carrying it around for two days.
“What else have you eaten?”
“Don’t worry about it, little brother. I’m fine. Get your book bag and we’ll go through your homework.”
Sam stared at the bag in his hands as the memory washed over him. Dad had been two days late. And when he got back, he’d smelled like whiskey. By the time he got home, Dean was pale and shaky, but he helped his Dad unpack and clean the guns before he asked for any money, silencing Sam with a well-timed glare. They’d gone to the store, and afterwards Dean had eaten three ham sandwiches and four glasses of milk in about ten minutes time. Since then, Sam didn’t think he’d ever seen his brother without the chocolate candy.
“You gonna eat those or stare holes through the bag?”
Sam jumped, crumpling the bag between his hands. “Dude, you scared the crap outta me.”
“Shame on you, Sammy,” Dean shook his head. “I shouldn’t be able to sneak up on you.”
Sam just glared at him. The painkillers were making his head fuzzy, but the pain in his leg had been reduced to a dull ache. Slowly, so as not to disturb the splint, he used his hands and pulled himself back until he could prop himself back against the wall.
“You doing okay?” Dean asked.
Sam nodded, just watching his brother. He rotated the lamp until it was pointed in Dean’s direction. He watched with fascination as Dean piled the firewood he’d gathered on one side of him, sat down and pulled some of the dried twigs and leaves he’d found into a pile and set a short piece of wood beside them. He then unlaced one of his boots, tied either end of the lace to one of two equal-lengthed sticks, then stood the second stick up on the flat piece of wood and wrapped the bootlace once around the stick. The end result looked like he was playing a violin against the bow, rather than the other way around.
He began to pull the stick with the string on it rapidly, turning the other stick against the flat piece of wood.
“Dude, what the hell are you doing?”
Dean lifted his head to briefly meet Sam’s eyes. “What does it look like I’m doing?”
“I think you’re trying to… make a fire.”
“You sure you didn’t hit your head, Sammy?”
“Dad never taught us that,” Sam ignored his brother’s comment. Dad had taught them to be prepared. Extra prepared. He would have chewed Dean’s ass for not having waterproof matches in the packs.
“So… where’d you learn it?”
Dean paused in his efforts, lifting his eyes to Sam, as thought weighing the consequences of confession. “MacGyver.”
“The TV Show?”
“No, Sam, MacGyver my imaginary friend,” Dean resumed the rubbing. Smoke started to filter up from the top of the vertical stick. “There was an episode once where Mac—“
“You’re on a first name basis with him?”
“Dude, you want to hear this or not?”
“And that’s not his first name.”
“Anyway,” Dean sighed. “He takes a bunch of kids out on some sort of get-over-being-a-delinquent trip into the wilderness and the plane crashes…”
“Oh great. Way to go, Mac.”
“Not like he crashed the plane,” Dean protested, rubbing faster as the smoke began to build. “So, since they’re stuck out there until help arrives he does all kinds of stuff to help them help themselves to survive.”
“Did it work?”
Dean grinned as his efforts paid off. Flames sparked from the end of the stick and Dean brushed the dried twigs and leaves on top of the tiny fire. When they caught, he started to add more firewood until eventually he had a fire large enough to illuminate their immediate area and the cave up to the cliff wall.
“It’s MacGyver. The dude can make a bomb out of a soup can and a roll of duct tape. ‘Course it worked.”
As the boys looked around, they were amazed to see crude drawings on the walls of the cave, and in the ceiling, a phenomenal site. The cave was like the crest of a giant geode. On the ceiling, reflecting in the firelight, thousands of crystals of varying length and color sparkled down at them.
“Damn,” Dean whispered.
“This ever happen on MacGyver?”
“Not even close.”
“What are those markings?”
Dean leaned forward, inspecting them closer. “Some kind of Indian markings maybe?” He looked over his shoulder to Sam, unconsciously wiping more blood from his eye with the back of his hand. “What were those markings we saw in Lost Creek?”
Sam saw the blood on his brother’s hand. His lips thinned. “Dean, let’s take care of your head.”
“Your head, dude. It’s still bleeding.”
Dean blinked, looking genuinely puzzled. He turned his hand over and saw the blood on the back of it. He was suddenly very thirsty. Wiping the back of his hand on his jeans, he moved back over to Sam in a low crouch.
“Lemme have some of that water, Sam,” he said, reaching his hand out. Sam handed him the bottle, reaching for the duffel and the first aid kit.
“Some day trip,” Sam muttered.
Dean took a shallow swallow from the bottle, capped it and set it down next to Sam. “What?”
“Easy hunt, fire up a wendigo, we’re back in the car inside of two hours,” Sam said, recalling Dean’s words from earlier.
“How was I supposed to know there would be two of them?”
Sam just shook his head. They hadn’t been prepared. End of story. If they ever ran into their Dad again, if they ever found him again, he was going to be pissed if he ever found out about this hunt. He pulled the first aid kit from the pack.
“What are you doing?” Dean asked, sitting next to Sam in a low crouch, balanced on the balls of his feet. He’d been looking at the markings on the cave walls, trying to figure out why they looked familiar… something about the pattern more than the drawings themselves… something about the way they were organized was tickling his memory. His eyes caught on Sam’s movement.
“I’m gonna clean up your head, Dean.”
“It’s fine, Sam.”
“Dude, stop it. It’s not fine. You can’t bleed for an hour and be fine.”
“It’s not bleeding that bad.”
“You should see yourself, man. You look like something out of a John Carpenter movie.”
Sam rolled his eyes when Dean’s mouth flicked up in a grin. “You’re impossible.”
Dean shook his head. “Seriously, Sam, we’ve got more important things to worry about.”
Dean lifted a brow. “Your leg getting infected for one. Getting the hell back to the car tomorrow morning for another. Don’t know if you noticed this, little brother, but you’re awfully big to be carried.”
“You’re not carrying me.”
“Damn straight. But you aren’t walking either.”
Sam looked down at his leg; the dull ache was ever-present, but he could now feel a strange heat building around where Dean had done his best to close up the hole and stop the bleeding. How the hell were they going to get out of there?
“You’ll just have to go for help and come back for me.”
Dean shook his head once, decisively. “No. No way.”
“Dean, it’s the only thing that makes sense.”
Dean’s eyes were hard, his jaw set. “I’m not leaving you, Sam.”
“You wouldn’t be leaving me… you’d be going for help.”
“No, and that’s the end of it. I’ll get us out of here,” Dean looked back up at the markings on the walls again. “Somehow.”
Sam shook his head again, but the look in Dean’s eyes suddenly shifted. He looked… confused.
Dean just blinked at him.
“You okay, man?”
Dean blinked again and shook his head. The left side of his face was a mottled mixture of red and brown from the dirt and dried blood and the fresh blood that continued to seep from his head wound. He reached up with a clumsy hand and swiped at his cheek with the back of his hand.
“Just, uh,” he pulled his eyebrows together and looked at Sam. “Just gimme a minute, okay?”
“Yeah, sure,” Sam said, growing increasingly worried by the second. Dean put his hands on the tops of his knees and stood. The minute he did so, Sam knew it was a mistake. “Dean!”
Dean blinked again, and reached out blindly for the cave wall. “Whoa.”
“Dean, sit down, okay?”
“Yeah, okay,” Dean whispered. And then his knees buckled. Unable to move, all Sam could do was instinctively reach his arms out. He managed to catch Dean’s shoulders and prevent him from injuring himself further by cracking his head again.
“Dean?” Sam was in an awkward, twisted position in an effort to keep his splinted leg steady and catch his brother. With a strong heave he turned Dean onto his back and pulled his head and shoulders into his lap. “Dean?”
Under the dried blood Dean’s face was pale, his lashes throwing shadows on his cheeks from the dancing firelight. His lips were slightly parted and his breath was coming in short bursts.
“Dammit,” Sam growled. “Stupid, stubborn bastard. Hope your head is hard.”
Sam ran a tired hand over his eyes. He had to get a grip. Clean out Dean’s wound while he was out so that he couldn’t protest. Get him to wake up, because he knew he had a concussion. Sam shivered and looked over at the fire. He had to do that fast before the fire died out or they would both freeze to death. Autumn night, northern Minnesota woods, minimal supplies, no blankets, in a wendigo’s lair. Perfect Winchester evening.
As he reached for the first aid kit, he heard the unmistakable sound of gravel falling from the cliff face above. Sam lifted his eyes to the darkness above and saw two eyes reflecting the light that danced from the crystals on the ceiling.
“Oh, shit,” he breathed.
Part Three can be found here: http://gaelicspirit.livejournal.com/10113.html