Characters: Dean and Sam, OC
“I remember,” Sam said softly, looking down at his hands in his lap. “I remember now.” He remembered the stark fear at the idea that he could lose Dean. He remembered the safe feeling of his father’s arms. And he remembered the rule. He never forgot that rule.
He shifted uncomfortably. The ache in his leg had intensified – the painkillers Dean gave him were already wearing off. His face felt hot – like he was sitting too close to the fire. He tried to shove away, but ended up book-ending himself next to Dean. “Dude, scoot over.”
“I’m hot,” Sam said, unconsciously licking his lips. He looked at Dean expectantly and realized that his brother was shivering. “You’re cold?”
“It’s like 30 degrees in here, Sam.”
“Well, I’m too close to the fire then,” Sam said, shoving Dean’s shoulder with one hand. Dean didn’t budge.
“No, you have a fever,” Dean said, his lips thinning with worry. “I was afraid of that.”
Sam sighed. He rubbed his hand over his face and shrugged Dean’s jacket off. “Well, here, then, you take this.”
Dean pushed it back at him. “No way, man,” he shook his head. “You need to stay warm – we can’t afford to let that fever get worse because you’re chilled.”
Sam clenched his jaw stubbornly, and Dean stared back at him. It was a silent battle of wills, Dean’s jacket fisted between them. Sam could see the determination in Dean’s eyes, and he knew the wisdom of his brother’s words, but there were times he resisted Dean simply for the sake of resisting him.
He lost the battle when his leg reminded him of his predicament with a particularly harsh throb. He jerked in response and Dean’s jacket settled back over his chest. Sam closed his eyes and rested his head back against the wall, clenching his teeth against the pain until it eased a bit. When he could take a breath without whimpering, he opened his eyes again to see Dean staring at him.
“No,” Sam said, muttering, “but there’s not much we can do about it.”
Moving slowly, and keeping his head as level as possible, Dean climbed across Sam, stoked the fire and took out some more painkillers. He handed them and the water bottle to Sam. Sam swallowed them gratefully.
“Can’t give you anymore for awhile, man,” Dean said, capping the water and sticking it back in the bag.
“Kill joy,” Sam muttered with a half grin.
Dean leaned over to take another look at Sam’s leg and as he did so, a wave of black swept over him. He could feel himself falling forward, and some part of him knew he was perched over Sam’s leg. He pressed his fists into the cave floor, hard, pushing his body away from Sam. He swallowed, taking deep breaths, willing the darkness away, willing the buzzing in his ears to stop. Every muscle in his body tightened as he worked to keep himself from falling onto Sam, keep himself awake…
Dimly, as though from a great distance, he heard his name… his name in his father’s voice. His name barked by John to get up, get focused… He blinked and could see Sam’s worried eyes… Sam’s face faded out and Dean blinked again and saw the eyes of the wolf in Sam’s face… he shook his head and closed his eyes tight, focusing inside of himself, focusing on the place inside that only one person in his life had been able to see, and she had done so accidentally. He found his will there. He grabbed it and held on tight.
He blinked again, and like a camera lens tightening focus, his eyes narrowed in on Sam. Sound rushed back to him and he realized that he was still on his knees, but that Sam was gripping his upper arms, and he was staring at him, hard, saying something over and over. Dean blinked rapidly and focused on what Sam was saying… with me, man, don’t you go, you stay with me, okay? You said you’d get us out of this, and you always do what you say, so you stay with me… are you with me… are you
“…with me, Dean?”
“Yeah,” Dean whispered. Then, stronger, “Yeah, Sammy.”
“What the hell was that?”
Dean realized that Sam was gripping right across his cuts when he tried to lift his left arm and felt the needle prick stab through him at the movement. He gently shrugged Sam’s hands away.
“I think I need more M&Ms,” he said with a shaky grin.
Sam wanted to yell at him, to call him a liar, to tell him how his heart had dropped when he saw all of the color leave Dean’s face – all but the bright line of red from the still-seeping head wound – and had to watch Dean force himself to fight off unconsciousness. But he didn’t. He sat back against the cave wall, and leveled his eyes on Dean.
“You have a concussion, Dean.”
“Thank you, Dr. Winchester.”
“This isn’t good.”
“What’s your point?”
Sam sighed. He was right. What were they going to do about that? Not like they could even call 9-1-1. Sam had checked for reception before they’d entered the cave… several hours and a lifetime ago. Nothing. No bars. Too far into the woods, too deep into the cave… They were hurt, alone, and there was no back-up coming.
“We can never be this stupid again,” Sam declared.
“Oh, I’m pretty sure we can. We shouldn’t, but we can,” Dean said, climbing carefully back over Sam and positioning himself once again between his brother and the mouth of the cave. The cooler air that occasionally breezed in helped him stay alert.
Dean lifted a brow and slid his eyes to Sam. “Bless you.”
“No, man, those markings in Lost Creek. They were Anasazi.”
“Dude, you’re right,” Dean said leaning forward.
Sam’s shrug stated ‘of course I am’.
“These aren’t the same, though,” Dean said, looking at the pattern of the drawings on the wall.
Sam, too, leaned forward, “No, but… the way they’re arranged…”
Dean nodded excitedly. “Yeah, that’s what I was thinking, but…”
Sam instinctively tried to scoot forward, toward the markings. He was viciously reminded to stay put, and sat back with a hiss of pain. The ache in his leg intensified and he gripped it just above the knee.
“What is it, Sam?”
“There’s one missing,” Sam said through clenched teeth.
“Missing?” Dean looked back over at the markings on the wall. There were five figures arranged in a vaguely familiar pattern, but where a sixth figure could be there instead was a fist-sized chip in the wall. “Huh.”
Dean carefully crawled forward and looked at the rocks cluttered at the base of the wall. Could it be that simple? He reached into the pack and drew out the flashlight. Sam watched as Dean silently, methodically picked up each rock at the base of the wall and looked it over. The painkillers made his head fuzzy again and he blinked slowly, letting his body relax.
“Why do you count beats, Dean?”
“Beets?” Dean looked over at Sam like he’d suddenly turned purple.
“In a song. When you’re hurt.”
“Oh, that,” Dean shrugged and continued to pick up rocks, looking for a sign of the markings on them. “I don’t know… just a habit I picked up somewhere.”
“You don’t pick up habits, you develop them.”
“Oh, who are you, Freud?”
“Seriously, Dude. You had to have ---“
“God, Sam, you’re like a dog with a bone. Why do you do that, huh? Why do you keep asking questions?”
“Because I want answers,” Sam said simply, watching with satisfaction as Dean’s retort was cut off.
“Dad used to sing to me,” Dean finally said when the silence had gotten too heavy for him to breathe through. “Happy?”
Sam narrowed his eyes. “Dad?!”
“Yeah, when… after…” Dean sighed and rubbed his forehead, wiping off a thin trail of blood from his temple.
Lawrence, KS, 1983
“Dean, you can’t stay in there, son.”
“Sammy can’t sleep.”
“Sammy’s already asleep, Dean. C’mere.”
“No, Daddy. What if he wakes up?”
“I’ll take care of him.”
“What if someone comes before you?”
“God, boy, you… you don’t have to worry about that, okay?”
“Come here, Dean.”
“Why what, Son?”
“Why don’t I have to worry ‘bout that?”
“Because I’ll watch out for Sammy.”
“No, ‘cause Mommy said she would.”
“Mommy said she would and she’s not. So I will. I’ll watch out for Sammy.”
“You don’t talk for months…I finally get you to say something, and this is what I get?”
“I’ll take care of him.”
“Okay, Bud, but how ‘bout… how ‘bout I take care of you?”
“I need you to go to sleep, Dean.”
“But I don’t wanna go…”
“How ‘bout I sing to you?”
“Like Mommy did?”
“Do you know Mommy’s songs?”
“Boy, you’re heavy. No, Bud. But I know my songs.”
“Take the highway to the end of the night, end of the night, end of the night, take a journey to the bright midnight, end of the night, end of the night, realms of bliss, realms of light, some are born to sweet delight, some are born to sweet delight, some are born to the endless night, end of the night, end of the night…”
“You wouldn’t remember this, Sam, but we lived with Mike and Kate for awhile after the fire.”
“Dad’s partner Mike? From the garage?”
“Yeah,” Dean rolled his neck, not looking at Sam, not looking at the rocks on the cave floor, not really looking at anything. But Sam could guess at what he was seeing. He was seeing a baby in his arms and a house on fire.
“I remember everything just…felt wrong. It’s hard to remember specifics, y’know?”
Sam nodded even though Dean wasn’t looking at him.
“I couldn’t sleep. I remember… I, uh, used to climb into your crib.”
The side of Dean’s mouth pulled up into a small smile. When he continued, his voice was so low that Sam had to practically hold his breath to hear him. “I had it in my head that if anything came through the door again, I would be there to scare it off… it would have to get me first.”
Sam swallowed. His brother never really quit that habit. He still put himself between Sam and the door. “So, uh, when did Dad…”
Dean sighed. “I guess I didn’t really, uh… y’know, feel like talking for awhile.”
Sam suddenly remembered Lucas Barr. Lucas had witnessed his father drowning by the hands of a water spirit and it had traumatized him into silence. Dean’s confession to Lucas had surprised and humbled Sam, showing him a side of his brother that he was ashamed he had never known.
Dean cleared his throat and roused himself from his stare into the middle distance. He turned back to the rocks, methodically sifting through them as he spoke. “So Dad started singing to me when we went to bed. He didn’t sing like Mom used to… not… I don’t know… flowy like her. He sang in beats. In rhythms. I guess I started the same thing when I felt… out of control somehow.”
Sam nodded, swallowing. Nothing could make Dean feel more out of control than being injured. That was when Sam had noticed the singing or the counting – when Dean was hurting.
“I never knew that,” Sam said, softly.
Dean lifted a shoulder. “Well, how could you, Sam. You were just a baby.”
“You see him a lot differently than I do.”
Dean looked at his brother over his shoulder. “He was… he’s been two different people for me, Sam. You’ve only seen one.” He turned back to sifting through the rocks.
“Dean, were you ever in love before Cassie?”
At this Dean dropped the rock he was holding and gave Sam a sidelong glance. “Okay, random.”
“I’m serious. I don’t remember you…like ever being with someone more than a night. Ever.”
“Where is this coming from, Sam?” Dean hedged.
“I wonder if… I mean, Jess she…”
Dean turned slowly so that he was facing his brother. “What, Sam?”
Sam shrugged. His eyes were bright, reflecting the firelight. Dean couldn’t tell from where he sat if it was from the fever, or if they were tears.
“If Jess had lived, I just wonder if…”
“You wonder if it would have lasted.”
Sam nodded, his throat working hard.
“Sammy, there’s no way to know that. Don’t beat yourself up wondering what might have been, especially when…”
“It’s just,” Sam swallowed and looked down. Dean could see now that the shining in his eyes had been tears as one dropped from his brother’s eye and hit his folded hands. “When I was with Sarah, I… I felt real again. Like… like a person again.”
“Like Jess made you feel.”
Sam nodded again.
Dean pressed his lips together, folding his bottom one in. He sighed. “Sam, it’s okay to be a person without Jessica. It’s okay,” he stressed when Sam shook his head once. “You are never going to forget her. You’re never going to forget what happened to her. Even when we kill that evil son of a bitch.”
Sam lifted his eyes to Deans, waiting for the good news.
“But, you will forget what it feels like to hurt like this. You will, Sam, I promise,” he finished softly.
“How long did it take you?”
Dean’s breath caught in his throat. “What?”
“How long did it take you to forget what hurting feels like?”
“Sam, I don’t –“
“Cause you can’t tell me it didn’t hurt you when Cassie pushed you away.”
Dean looked away.
“You broke the rule for her, Dean.”
“You don’t have to remind me, Sam,” his voice was hard, his jaw muscles tight. “And yeah,” he conceded, tossing rocks to the side with increased force, “it hurt. But it just proved to me what I already knew.”
Dean shrugged, throwing another rock away, hard. “That people leave. It’s what they do. Unless you hold onto them.” His shoulders sagged a bit, and he added softly, “I guess just didn’t hold on tight enough.”
“What about Brenna?”
“For God’s sake, Sam.”
“Well, you didn’t tell her.”
“She already knew.”
“Exactly, and she didn’t leave. I mean, she left, but…”
“I know what you mean.”
“Brenna’s… different,” Dean tried to push Sam away from that topic. He didn’t want to think too much about her, about what she was to him. When he did, the straight path that he saw through his life, the path he had to stay on to keep Sam safe, to stay the course, got blurry, and he couldn’t afford that now… or ever.
“Hey!” Dean shouted suddenly. He lifted a rock the size of his fist, nestled against the bottom of the wall. On one side of it, a sixth marking could clearly be seen.
“Huh,” Sam nodded. He watched as Dean fit the rock back into the wall, completing the pattern. Sitting where he was, at the opposite wall from Dean, he could see something his brother could not. “Dude, c’mere.”
“You gotta see this.”
Dean crawled back over to sit next to Sam, away from the fire. He followed Sam’s eyeline across to the wall where he’d just been sitting.
“Holy shit,” he breathed.
The firelight danced off of the crystals in the ceiling, reflecting a pattern on the wall between the markings. With the sixth marking added, there were five points, with one in the center, all connected by shimmering streams of light reflected from the crystals above.
“It’s a pentagram,” Sam whispered.
“It’s more than that,” Dean said, his eyes shifted to his left and out of the mouth of the cave. No sooner was that statement out of his mouth than the stench hit them. “It’s a protection charm.”
Sam looked away from the light on the cave wall and looked where Dean was looking. At the mouth of the cave. And the second wendigo.
“Dude,” Sam whispered. “It’s watching us.”
“Why hasn’t it…”
“Biding its time,” Dean said not taking his eyes from the creature. “Damn thing is a hunter, Sam. It’s not going to go down like its partner did.”
The wendigo let out a low gurgling growl and paced at the entrance to the cave. Dean reached into the bag for the flare gun. He loaded it and took slow aim. Just before he pulled the trigger, Sam’s hand pulled his arm down.
“What the hell, Sam!”
“We only have two left.”
“So what if you miss?”
“I won’t miss if you quit pulling on me!”
“It’s a protection charm, Dean,” Sam insisted.
Sam tugged his arm again. “Dude, save the ammo.”
Dean blinked at him, not understanding why Sam didn’t just let him kill the damn thing and be done with it.
“We’re protected here, Dean. Look! It can’t get in.”
Dean looked back and saw that indeed, the creature was pacing back and forth along the mouth of the cave. As they watched, breathing shallowly in the wake of the creature’s stench, it stopped, turned and looked at them.
“Creepy,” Dean whispered.
The wendigo stared at them for a few seconds more, then moving with the dangerous speed legend warned of, it darted away, taking with it the horrid smell. Dean leaned back against the wall, the flare-gun held loosely in his lap. He leaned his shoulder against his brothers, his body weary, his heart worried. He lifted his aching eyes to the wall across from them, looking at the protection charm dancing in the firelight. Put there by an Indian tribe, no doubt, to keep the wendigo in the cave, to try to keep their people safe.
“When we leave in the morning...can’t take the cave wall with us.”
Sam was silent for a moment. “Well, then, you’d better not miss.”
Part Five can be found here: http://gaelicspirit.livejournal.com/10747.html