Characters: Dean and Sam, OC
Abe watched as Dean jerked back slightly and Sam’s fingers tightened on his brother’s arm. He knew his words would have an impact on them, but he also suspected that on some level they’d known. If not that the wendigo had been the shaman’s brother, at least that he had not completely been the beast.
Dean dragged in a breath and Abe’s eyes flicked up to the TV screen where the lines of his life were measured. A couple bounced shakily then smoothed out. Sam kept his eyes on Abe, but Abe could see his awareness of his brother. It was in his posture, the lines of his face, the grip of his fingers.
“What the hell are you talking about, man?” he said, his voice a perfect imitation of Dean’s stubborn demand for the truth just moments ago.
“I’ll let Running Horse explain,” Abe said. He saw Dean’s eyebrow flicker up, and he continued. “I’ll translate.”
Dean simply blinked at him, his eyes weary, his face pale. He lay at the awkward angle Doc had positioned him in to ease the pressure on his wounded back, his left arm laying limp across his body. He had fisted the sheets in his right hand, and held that arm very still so that Sam’s hand didn’t slide away.
Sam shifted slightly in the wheelchair, reaching down to rub the top part of his right leg – the only place he could reach. “Well, go on then.”
Running Horse heard his cue and began speaking in a low, rhythmic voice. Abe had always found his cadence to be relaxing, almost hypnotic. But he knew that the brothers would have to hear the truth, so he raised the tone of his voice to the near-barking, authoritative tone he’d witnessed Dean react to. If Dean responded, he knew Sam would follow suit.
“Many years ago… I am an old man, I do not know the year… I fell and broke my neck. My brother was a grown man then, and learning the ways of the tribal shaman. It was the summer when many of the young men of our tribe left to fight in the Great War. The first of many… My brother did not leave. He was old enough to marry, to start a family, but he had me to care for. Our mother had died when I was very young. Our father had left the tribe long before that summer…”
Abe paused and left Running Horse take a drink of water. He kept his eyes on the brothers. Dean’s head had sunk back into the pillow and if possible, he’d grown paler. Sam’s jaw was hard, the muscle on the sides jumping as his dark eyes stayed pinned to Running Horse, looking both fearful and curious to hear his next words.
“I knew I was going to die. I felt my body grow cold. I felt myself falling and flying at the same time. I looked to see the Spirit Horse come to me. I looked for my mother. But then I saw my brother’s face, and the look in his eyes… he was going to save me, he said. He knew how to save me. He began speaking words… I had never heard these words before… he touched the break, and the pain grew…”
Running Horse paused when they heard the heart monitor jump again. Sam and Abe both looked to Dean, who simply shook his head. Abe could see his chest rising and falling in an increasing rhythm.
“Dean?” Sam asked, an entire conversation of care spoken through one word.
“I’m fine, Sam,” Dean asked, but Abe heard the weakness in his voice.
“We can come back –“ he started.
“No,” Dean interrupted, trying to control his breathing. “No, we gotta know.”
“The pain grew until I could no longer see, no longer hear… but I could feel my brother. I could feel his hands. Then, as if it had never been there, the pain was gone. I could move my body. I could breath. My brother was beyond happy. He was determined to learn all the tribal shaman could teach him. Past healing. Past spirit-walking. Past enlightenment. He said he wanted to find a way to keep us safe… so that we would never die… but everything dies. It is the balance of the universe. He could not accept this balance.”
“His hunger for knowledge increased and I grew afraid of him. This took many years… but when I was old enough to marry, I could not bear to be near my brother… though I loved him more than my life. One night, fearing for him because of the voices speaking in my dreams, I followed him to the cave. I witnessed there a horror that changed my heart…”
Abe heard Sam make a small sound in the back of his throat. He looked at him. Sam’s eyes were on Running Horse. They were dark pools of worry and weariness. Dean didn’t look at his brother, but he fisted his right hand tighter, so that the muscles bunched under his brother’s hand.
“Easy, Sam,” Dean said in a low, calming voice.
“It’s not the same,” he whispered again. Sam turned his head slightly so that he could see Dean out of the corners of his eyes. “It’s not the same as us,” Dean repeated, his voice still soft, but the edge to it said believe me.
“My brother had learned of an ancient power, one that shaman do not speak of, one that was discovered in darkness and led to darkness. By eating the flesh of one with power, he would absorb that power and with it, immortality. I now know he believed he could save us, save me, from any harm. He had killed the tribal shaman and as I watched, he consumed him. The blood ran from his mouth, down his chest, his eyes were no longer the eyes of my brother, the sounds coming from the cave were wild, animal-like, and terrifying.”
“I returned during the day, having studied the shaman’s magic enough to try to understand my brother. I marked the cave wall with stain made of blood, herbs, and tree sap. I marked it in the form of a pentagram to keep the evil away from the tribe. I used the earth as the barrier. And I kept him in there. Alive, but not living. Increasing his hate. Increasing his blood lust. Killing his soul. Saving my people.”
“The protection charm was broken,” Sam said, his voice rough. “When we found it, a piece was missing.”
Abe nodded. “When you said that there had been two creatures, I went to Running Horse. He didn’t know of a second. Near as we can figure, it was the second wendigo that freed his brother.”
“Why didn’t you kill him,” Dean asked, his voice sandpaper-rough, his eyes on Running Horse.
Abe started to translate, but stopped when he realized that Running Horse had been waiting for this question. The old man seemed to sag slightly in the chair, his face downcast. He said something in a voice that reminded Abe just how old this man was. It sounded like empty tree branches rubbing together in the wind.
“Because he was my brother.”
“No he wasn’t,” Dean argued, his breaths coming in quick pants. The beep of the monitor increased, and Sam turned to him. “Not anymore. He was evil. And you knew it. And you allowed… you…”
“Dean? Hey,” Sam said, his grip tightening visibly on Dean’s arm.
Dean's face matched the pillow he lay against, the only color coming from his dark-blonde hair and the sooty lashes that brushed his cheeks as his eyes fluttered closed once. He forced them open, the flash of green Abe saw almost lit from within.
“Hey, Doc,” Abe called.
Dean kept his eyes on Running Horse, his voice weak but accusatory. “You let evil live. And people died.”
“He was my brother.”
Abe heard a noise from Dean then. An almost keening growl. He looked at the boy's face. Dean’s eyes were closed, his lips pressed together as though holding back a silent scream. Abe saw the muscle in his jaw jump and once again his heart went out to him. Stepping away from Running Horse he moved towards Dean’s bed. Thinking to help ease him into a more comfortable position, he carefully grasp Dean’s left arm and tried to move it back on the pillow. He mirrored Sam’s jerk of surprise when Dean cried out.
“Dean?!” Sam said, leaning forward, hampered by his leg and the chair.
Dean’s head was pressed back into the pillow and he was breathing through clenched teeth. Abe let go of his arm and stepped back as Doc appeared in the room, moving up next to the side of Dean’s bed where Abe stood. He checked the read-out on the monitor, then as though he didn’t believe it, he put his stethoscope in his ears, listening to Dean’s heart.
“Dean,” Doc called, pulling open his right eye and shining a light in it. Abe could see his pupil react from the angle where he stood at the edge of the bed. Dean didn’t respond. From what Abe could see, he seemed to be concentrating on breathing, as though that simple, natural action had become a monumental effort.
“What’s wrong with him?” Sam asked, his voice trembling. Abe heard the youth in that voice. The little brother. The need to be reassured that he wasn’t going to lose his hero.
Doc shook his head. “This is what I was trying to tell you boys earlier,” he said, tilting the bed slightly lower and adjusting the pillow at Dean’s back so that he could look at the dressing there. “The infection that set in to his arm isn’t abating with the antibiotics. And now,” he said, peering under the bandages at Dean’s back, “it looks like his back—“
“Right here, people,” Dean ground out.
“Dean,” Sam leaned as close as his wheelchair would allow. “What’s wrong? What hurts?”
“God, Sam,” Dean groaned. “Arm… just… cut it off or something.”
Sam lifted his eyes to Doc’s. “Isn’t there anything else you can try?”
Doc’s generous mouth was pressed into a thin line. He was staring at Dean’s profile with narrowed eyes. Then, like a light bulb had literally gone off in his head, he turned and left the room.
“He’s got an idea, Dean, okay? Just… just hang on,” Sam said, leaning close again.
“Don’t let go’ame, Sam,” Dean whispered.
“Don’t let go… I’ll fall if you let go,” Dean’s voice was so low Abe could barely hear him.
But as Abe made out the words, his worry increased. Just listening to their conversation earlier, he knew that Dean would never have admitted to such a thing if he’d been completely coherent. His need for Sam he saw as a weakness. That much Abe had seen when, upon realizing that his Dad hadn’t come for them, the first thing Dean did was berate himself for putting Sam’s life in danger.
“I’m right here, Dean,” Sam whispered, reaching over with his other hand to cover Dean’s fist.
Doc blurred back into the room, moving with more speed and grace than Abe gave the big man credit for. When a life was in the balance, Doc was a man on a mission. He carefully moved behind Sam’s chair, hooking a different IV bag up to the pole next to Dean’s bed. Without moving Sam’s hands away from his brother, he exchanged the line that fed into the catheter on Dean’s arm. Next he filled a syringe with a clear liquid and hovered over the port.
“Dean,” Doc said. Dean grunted once in response. “I’m going to give you something for the pain. It might make you sleepy, but you need to rest. I’m trying a stronger antibiotic to kick this infection in your arm, okay?”
“Sam?” Dean whispered through frozen lips.
“I’m not going anywhere, man.”
“’Kay,” Dean said to Doc. Doc pushed the painkiller into the IV, and as they watched, within minutes Dean visibly relaxed.
The hurried beep of the monitor smoothed out and returned to a normal rhythm. Abe watched Dean’s fisted fingers relax under Sam’s hand. Sam moved that hand away, but kept his fingers wrapped around Dean’s right forearm.
“Dean?” he called, checking. His brother didn’t respond. His face was still lined with pain, but his breathing had evened out. Abe watched as Doc lifted his eyelid, checking. He pulled back, his shoulders dropping slightly.
“He’s out, Sam.”
Sam looked up. “Might make him sleepy?” he asked.
“Well, if I told him that I was going to knock him out, what do you think he’d do?”
Sam looked back at Dean. “Tell you to go to hell.”
“Exactly,” Doc sighed. “It was a good sign that he woke up on his own, but…”
“What?” Abe asked.
“I can’t get that infection under control. It’s almost like… like it comes in waves. Which is not how the body works,” Doc shook his head.
Running Horse spoke up. Doc lifted his head, then shook it once, denying the old man’s words.
“What?” Sam asked. “What did he say?”
Abe sighed tiredly. “He said that it isn’t infection. It’s poison.”
“My ass,” Doc growled. “This boy hasn’t been poisoned, he was injured. His cuts are infected.”
Abe pushed his hands into his back jeans pockets. “Doc, listen,” he began, his voice a slow, measured beat of reason. “You said it yourself – the infection came from the bacteria on the creature’s claws. What if Running Horse has a point? What if that… bacteria is poisoning him?”
Doc lifted his eyes to Sam, studying him, questions in his eyes. Abe watched Sam stare back. It was almost as if he were witnessing a battle of wills. And he was amazed when Doc was the one to look away.
“It never touched me, Doc,” Sam said. "I'm not infected because it never touched me."
“And why is that,” Doc said, his eyes now on Dean’s face. “You were practically helpless out there. It should have torn you to shreds.”
“Well, I shot the first one... after it threw Dean into the wall. And with the second, well, Dean wouldn’t let it,” Sam shrugged. “Plus,” he looked over at Running Horse. “He copied the protection charm on the canvas.”
Doc looked up at Abe. “Yeah,” he said thoughtfully. “Saw that.”
Abe lifted a shoulder. “The shaman magic protected his brother. Why couldn’t it heal him?”
Doc studied Abe longer and Abe felt like he was disappearing under the intense gaze. He thought for a moment that they had him convinced, but then his eyes clouded once more and he shook his head.
“These antibiotics will work,” he said, decisively. “I’m sure of it.”
“I can’t afford for you to be wrong,” Sam said, his eyes hard.
“Sam, you need to rest,” Doc said, completely ignoring Sam’s trembling confession. “Let me get Josh to help you back to bed.”
“Kid, I will not have two lives on my conscience,” he growled and stormed out of the room.
Abe felt himself grow cold at those words, and looked at Sam. Sam’s face was pale under his mop of shaggy brown hair, his jaw trembling as he looked after Doc’s retreating form. After a moment he looked over at Running Horse.
As if feeling his gaze, Running Horse murmured, “Seyenz.” He lifted a shoulder in apology.
Sam pressed his lips together, then nodded. “I know. I couldn’t have done it either,” he whispered.
When Josh came in to help Sam into the bed, Abe called for Mark.
“Mark, you and Brian help Running Horse get back to his house,” he ordered.
“Where are you going?” Mark asked.
“I’m staying here with them,” Abe jerked his head over his shoulder at the brothers. “But, uh, Mark?”
“Stay close, huh? I don’t think this is over,” Abe sighed, resting a heavy hand on Running Horse’s shoulder.
As the late afternoon sun waned in its travel through the windows of Dean’s room, Sam lay sideways in his bed, his eyes on his brother, his right leg propped on pillows. Abe sat in the chair Running Horse had vacated, watching Sam watching Dean.
“I think he learns by teaching,” Sam suddenly said. Abe jumped slightly at the unexpected sound of his voice.
“Well, our Dad, he, uh, he kept this… journal. A way of keeping track of everything he hunted,” Sam said, his eyes flicking from Dean to Abe, then back again.
“Things like… like demons and werewolves?” Abe asked, hesitantly, afraid for the answer.
“Among other things,” Sam nodded. “Dean tell you that?”
“Not exactly,” Abe shifted. “I mean, he told your Dad that he’d been hurt worse when I wanted to leave one of you behind… he insisted that he walk.”
Sam nodded, still looking at Dean.
“He, uh, he mentioned a werewolf,” Abe said.
Sam snorted, “Which one?”
Abe swallowed hard, a chill shivering down his spine. There had been more than one? “I can’t believe how you two have grown up,” he whispered.
“It’s a long story,” Sam said, “but you found out about the wendigo all on your own, so you know I’m not making it up.”
Sam pulled his bottom lip in. “I’ve never known anything else. Dean, he uh, he had normal until he was four,” he shifted and looked up at the ceiling, his face dark, his eyes haunted. “I’m not sure which way is worse.”
“What happened when he was four?”
“A demon killed our mom,” Sam said, his voice crackling over the words like wrinkled paper.
Abe felt the cold chill again. Watching Sam’s face he realized he was losing him to memories. “So this journal?” he asked, pulling him back.
“Yeah,” Sam nodded, still looking at the ceiling. “Dad has everything in that. History, ways of killing, protection, exorcisms, the works.” He shifted his eyes back over to Dean. “Dean knew we’d have to learn it. So instead of helping me with ABC’s, he had me copy stuff out of Dad’s journal. It’s how he taught me to write.”
Abe looked from Sam over to the still body in the other bed. That night in the woods he’d felt from Dean such devotion to his brother, such respect for his father. The more he learned about him, the more confusing he became. It seemed he was such a cornerstone in this family. And yet… and yet it was as though he were invisible at the same time. He was gravity. Needed, depended upon, and unseen.
“Pretty smart,” Abe said, thinking about the boys' writing lessons.
“Well, yeah, until I got into kindergarten,” Sam said with a grin. “Dad had some serious explaining to do.”
Abe chuckled. “I’ll bet.”
Doc ducked in and checked on Dean, his face impassible. He didn’t look at Abe, but went over to Sam. He listened to his heart, his lungs, took his pulse, checked his temperature.
“You’re doing better, Sam,” Doc said. “But I still don’t like your color. You need to rest.”
“I’ll stay, Sam,” Abe offered as Sam opened his mouth in protest. Doc did look at him, then, as if surprised by his dedication. “I’ll keep an eye on him. I won’t let you sleep through something important.”
Sam lifted one corner of his mouth in surprised gratitude. “Thanks, man.”
Abe lifted a shoulder, then looked at Doc, challenging him to deny him this. I pulled them out of the woods, old man. Just try to kick me out.
Doc pressed his lips together in a line of defeat. “Fine. Call me if something changes,” he said, looking over his shoulder at Dean. “I’ll be right outside.”
“You got it,” Abe nodded.
Darkness settled over the little room as the sun rolled slowly under the earth. Sam fell into a restful sleep minutes after Doc left the room, proving to Abe how tenuous his own recovery was. He had as much determination to keep his brother with him as Dean had displayed in the woods. Abe adjusted himself in the chair, rolling his tired neck. The sounds of the monitor, the heating ducts, the boys' breathing began to lull him into a sleeping awareness.
The nightmare began for both almost at the same time. Abe blinked awake, unsure how long he’d been asleep. The first thing he heard was a quickening of the heart monitor. Then he heard Sam thrash once in his bed. Next a low cry from Dean. He stood, between the beds, unsure what was happening, who to go to.
Sam solved that problem. He sat up abruptly, sweat causing his hair to stick in clumps to his face, his lungs fighting for air.
“What, what is it?!” Abe stepped over to him, grasping his shoulders.
“He’s… he’s caught…” Sam said, pushing Abe away and trying to shove his covers down off of his leg.
“He’s what?” Abe looked over at the form on the bed. The monitor had picked up a double-time rhythm and Dean’s face was fisted in pain. He pressed his head back into the pillow and his legs twitched as though he were struggling… or… running.
“Sam, whoa, hey, what are you –“ Abe tried to stop Sam from swinging his leg over the bed. Sam pushed Abe away again and reached for the arm of the wheelchair.
“He’s caught. I saw him… his dream,” Sam was panting from the effects of his dream and trying to get his body from the bed to the chair. He jarred his leg and winced.
“Don’t ask me stupid questions, just help me or get out of my way,” Sam barked.
Abe really had no choice. Sam was getting into that chair. Abe helped to balance him, and lifted the leg rest for his right leg. He pushed him the few feet over to Dean’s bed, and then turned to call for Doc as Sam grasped Dean’s arm.
“Hey, hey,” Sam whispered, his fingers wrapping around the tight muscles on Dean’s arm, his brother’s fist bunched into the sheets. “I’m here, Dean…”
Doc was standing in the doorway when Abe turned.
“How longs he been like this?”
“Just a few minutes, I think.”
“What do you mean you think,” Doc barked as he moved over to Dean’s quaking body.
“I fell asleep,” Abe said, apologetically.
“You fell asleep?” Doc looked up at him.
“What do you want from me?” Abe yelled back.
“Hey!” Sam said, pulling their eyes to him. “Do we have to do this now?!”
Doc shook himself and started checking Dean.
“What’s the matter with him, Doc?” Sam asked.
“I think he’s… having some sort of a… seizure,” Doc answered hesitantly. “But it’s not presenting as…”
“He’s dreaming,” Sam said.
“How do you know?”
“I saw it,” he repeated. “And no I don’t know how, I just did. He’s trapped in the cave... as the wendigo – the second one… the one that talked.”
"What do you mean as --" Abe started.
"He's dreaming that he's the creature!" Sam snapped, his eyes flashing from Dean to Abe, then back again.
Dean’s head jerked back and forth and he tried to move his left arm, but the real pain stopped the dream motion. Abe watched as Sam scrunched his face in sympathetic pain, keeping one hand on Dean’s arm and putting the other one on top of his brother’s head, his thumb carefully smoothing the lines of pain across Dean’s forehead.
“Doc,” Abe said. “You have to let Running Horse try.”
Sam ignored him, but Doc lifted his head. “It’s not going to work, Abe.”
“Nothing else has either,” Abe shot back.
Doc sighed, looked down at the brothers, then nodded. “Fine.”
Mark appeared instantly in the doorway. “He never left, Abe,” he said.
“Running Horse. He never left.”
“Well, get him in here, then!”
Mark left the doorway and returned in minutes with Running Horse at his side. The old shaman moved quickly despite his stooped carriage and sightless eyes. Mark and Abe maneuvered him in front of Doc, on Dean’s left side. Running Horse looked at Sam.
“Onik,” he said. He continued, his brows pulled together, his expression fierce. Sam shot his eyes up to Abe.
“Don’t let go of his arm, Sam,” Abe said in a low, commanding tone. “You hang onto him no matter what, okay?”
Sam clenched his jaw and nodded, his fingers gripping Dean’s muscle-corded arm tighter.
Running Horse lay a hand on Dean’s bandaged arm. Abe’s gut clenched at the wounded sound that came from Dean’s throat at that touch. Doc started to go forward, his instinct as always to stop pain, but he hesitated. Running Horse’s voice began as a low chant, almost a song. Abe opened his mouth to translate but realized he couldn’t. He couldn’t speak. He could barely breathe. The energy in the room was similar to what he’d felt from Sam in the woods. He was held fast, a motionless witness to the coming moments.
Sam began to tremble with Running Horse’s words. He kept his eyes on Dean’s face, his hand on his brother’s arm, but he was not unaffected by the energy. He was fighting it, pushing it back to Running Horse, pushing it into Dean. Running Horse’s words increased in volume, then hit a cadence that would have made Abe jump if he could move.
Dean gasped, a rattling wet sound. He was sweating, rivulets of moisture running down the sides of his face. His jaw clenched and his head pressed back into the pillow. As Running Horse increased his chant his back arched up from the bed, the muscles in his stomach bunched, his right fist pressed into the bed, his left arm trembling violently. Just as Abe thought Dean would actually snap from the visible tension in his body, he opened his mouth and let out a cry.
The sound made Sam gasp. Abe saw him wince as though contact with his brother was painful, as though whatever Running Horse was doing to Dean was traveling through his wounded body and into Sam. Don’t let go… I’ll fall if you let go… Abe heard those words again with new meaning. Hang on, kid, he silently conveyed to Sam. Sam groaned low in the back of his throat and clenched his eyes against a pain Abe wasn’t able to imagine.
Dean’s cry came again and suddenly Sam’s own echoed his brother's. Sam’s head was bowed, his fingers white in their refusal to be pushed away.
“Sam,” Dean’s voice was a low punch of pain. Abe’s eyes flew to Dean in astonishment. His head was still pressed deep into the pillow, his back only slightly relaxed, his eyes shut tight, but his head turned toward where he’d last heard his brother’s voice. “Sammy…”
“I won’t let you fall, Dean,” Sam ground out, unable to raise his head, but not loosening his grip in the slightest.
“Sa—ahhhh!” Dean’s plea was cut off as his back arched once more and Abe watched in amazement as his white bandages on Dean’s arm were suddenly soaked in a reddish-green liquid. He saw the same liquid spreading slowly over the bed underneath Dean, soaking through the sheets. Dean tried to stifle his pained cry, but as the poison was pulled from his body, Running Horse’s words sped up, his tone growing harsher, more staccato, his grip becoming fiercer.
Then, as if someone had flipped a switch, it was suddenly over. Dean collapsed against the bed, eyes closed, breathing quick and uneven, heart rate erratic, but present. Running Horse seemed to shrink slightly and Abe found that he could once again move. He reached out automatically to grasp the old man’s shoulders.
Sam's head fell onto the bed next to Dean’s arm. “Dean?” he said, his voice low against the mattress. “Dean?” he called again. He was panting and trembling, but he didn’t let go of his brother.
“He’s out, Sam,” Abe said.
“Josh!” Doc called. “Get the hell in here!”
Abe moved Running Horse away from the bed on shaky legs. “Did it work?” he asked the old shaman.
Running Horse looked exhausted, but the smile on his wrinkled face was Abe’s answer. Abe sat him down in the chair, then turned toward the boys. Josh was trying to ease Sam away from Dean’s bed, the concern for his young patient evident on his face. Sam shook his head silently, unwilling or unable to let go of Dean’s arm. Josh’s words were not getting through.
“Sam, I need to check you out, kiddo. You are awfully pale. Just let go, Sam. Let him go. Sam, you need to let go of him –“
Abe stepped up to Sam. “He’s okay, now, Sam. You did good.”
Sam lifted his weary eyes to Abe. “Did it work?” his voice trembled, and unshed tears lingered in his eyes.
“Yeah, Sam,” Abe nodded. “It worked.” He looked over at Dean. He was a mess, but he was breathing. “He won’t fall,” he whispered.
At that Sam uncurled his fingers from his brother’s arm. Josh shot Abe a look of gratitude, then moved Sam over to the other bed. Abe turned to help Doc.
“What’s all that green stuff?” he asked.
“The infection. Or mystical wendigo disease. Or whatever the hell you two wackos said it was,” Doc grumbled, cutting the bandages from Dean’s arm.
“Well,” Abe couldn’t suppress a grin. “Guess even wackos are right once in awhile.”
Doc shot him a nasty look, but Abe just grinned back at him, jubilant in his victory. Doc’s resistance to the old ways of healing in their tribe had always been a point of contention between the men. Abe respected his methods – had seen him work miracles with medicines – but he was gratified to have been right about this. About the creature that had killed their people, and now, about how to save the boys that had killed the creature.
“Help me here,” Doc said. He’d removed the bandages from Dean’s arm, and rolled Dean to his right side. As he’d done before when they brought him to the clinic, Abe held Dean against him, Dean’s forehead resting on his arm. Not normally one for emotion, Abe was surprised when his throat constricted as Dean sighed. It was almost a whisper of thanks through the boy’s unconscious lips.
“Man, he’s a mess,” Doc grumbled. “Mark!”
Mark again appeared in the doorway. Abe wondered if he simply stood just out of sight waiting to be summoned.
“Get some clean sheets in here,” Doc ordered.
As Abe held Dean, he watched Doc clean off the liquid that had poured from his body. Mark and Brian came in and between the four of them they changed the bedding and helped Doc replace the stitches in Dean’s back and arm that had pulled. The whole process took almost an hour, and Abe hadn’t heard a sound behind him. He completely expected Sam to be asleep when he turned around. But the dark eyes caught his the minute Dean was settled.
“I saw his dream,” Sam whispered.
“That ever happen before?”
Sam nodded. “Once. Well, kinda. I was in his dream then.”
Abe pulled his eyebrows together. “In it?”
Sam sighed. “Long story,” he said, rubbing his neck. Josh stood on the other side of his bed, glowering at Abe like a bodyguard.
“What?” Abe asked him.
“He needs rest, Abe,” Josh grumbled.
“I’m not the one keeping him up,” Abe shot back.
Sam sighed. “Guys, cool it,” he said. “He was dreaming about the… the cave… and he was seeing us through the wendigo's eyes...” Sam cleared his throat. “I think he was trying to tell me something.”
Running Horse spoke up. Abe always wondered why the old man never learned to speak English when he understood it so well. He figured it was a matter of pride. He listened, shocked, then looked to Sam.
“You’re right, Sam,” he said, clearing his throat.
Sam shifted his head forward in an obvious ‘yeah, and...’ motion.
“Running Horse thinks that Dean knew to put that symbol on the travois because… he um, connected to the creature.”
“He knew what would keep it away from you. He simply wanted to get you safe, and cared about nothing else.”
Sam pulled his eyebrows together, looking over at Dean. Running Horse spoke again.
“One day he will destroy himself to save you… It is the blessing and the curse of brothers.”
Sam blinked, looking at Abe. “What the hell am I supposed to do with that?”
Abe shook his head, a pang of sympathy lancing his heart. He opened his mouth to answer Sam when a voice behind him cut him off.
“You listen, and put it away, Sam,” Doc said softly. He was looking down at Dean as he spoke. “You can’t live your life worried about how Dean will behave because of your actions.”
Sam swallowed and lay slowly back against his pillow. He looked up at the ceiling.
“Sam,” Doc pressed. “It is his choice to sacrifice for you.”
“No offense, Doc, “Sam whispered. “But that’s a load of crap.”
Abe swallowed, looking between Sam and Doc.
“I appreciate what you’re saying,” Sam continued. “But you don’t know what our lives have been like.” He shifted his head over toward Dean’s bed, his tired eyes resting on Doc. “My brother's been out of choices since he was four years old.”
Part Sixteen (Final part) can be found here: http://gaelicspirit.livejournal.com/13477.html