Characters: Dean and Sam, OC
Summary: This story is set in Season 1 between “Provenance” and “Dead Man’s Blood." When a hunt goes sideways, the brothers are hurt and lost in the northern Minnesota woods. They have only each other and their skills to get them out...and they aren't alone. They are being tracked by the 'perfect hunter.'
Disclaimer: Not Mine. More's the Pity
“Holy shit, there’s two of them!”
“What the hell? Since when did wendigos hunt in pairs?”
“Since now – Sam, look out!”
They were separated by five feet. Five feet. If Dean could have reached twice as long as his arm, he would have had a fistful of Sam’s jacket right now. He would have pulled him out of the way. He could have prevented all that was to come. Instead, he watched in horror as the boulder rolled in amazingly fast slow motion toward Sam. He watched Sam’s head jerk up at the sound of his voice and then saw him try to spring away, getting clipped on the shoulder and thrown off balance, teetering for precious seconds on the edge of the cliff while Dean reached and ran…but wasn’t fast enough.
Sam toppled over the edge and into the darkness.
The impossibly tall wendigo screamed a harsh, guttural sound from behind where Dean now stood, from the direction the boulder had come.
Nothing, no sound. The cave was damp, dark, and colder than the woods that surrounded it. It was more of a deep outcropping in a cliff face than a cave. The northern Minnesota woods hid many such caves which were perfect lairs for bears, wolves, and apparently wendigos. Dean dropped to his knees on the narrow ledge where seconds before his brother had been standing. The wendigo’s cry was a nauseating gurgle of insanity, and it was getting closer.
“Sam, dammit, you answer me,” Dean ordered, his eyes searching the darkness below, his tone a barely-controlled panic.
“Dean,” Sam’s voice was faint, and a lot closer than Dean thought it would be.
“Hey,” the relief in Dean’s voice was palpable. “Hey, you okay man?”
“Freakin’ boulder,” Sam grumbled, pain laced through his words.
“Can you move?” Dean still couldn’t see him. He gathered that Sam had tried to move, though, because a second later his gut clenched when Sam cried out in pain. “Sam!”
“Oh, God, Dean, m-my leg,” Sam’s breath was coming in gasps and his voice was faint.
“Don’t move,” Dean commanded. “I’m coming down.” Where the hell was he? Dean’s eyes darted below him, trying to see into the gloom.
“I’m right here,” Sam gasped. He’d seen Dean’s frantic eyes searching for him and realized that the darkness of the cave was covering him. They had entered the cave and climbed about ten feet up a stone wall to a ledge as they tracked the wendigo. They had set their packs down, and were prepared to fight the one wendigo they knew about when its friend had shown up. The ten-foot cliff face Sam had fallen from hadn’t been that steep, but he’d been off balance when he fell and had landed hard, on his right leg, the air leaving his lungs with force.
“Where? Sammy, I can’t –“
“Dean, behind you!” Sam found the air he’d been missing. He sucked it all back in when he saw the wendigo literally loom over Dean in the wan light filtering in from the mouth of the cave. He actually reached toward Dean, his instincts screaming at him to shove Dean aside, but even if he had been close enough, he couldn’t get his body to move. The pain in his leg canceled out all other function.
He watched Dean’s eyes flash wide for an instant of confusion, startled by the panic in Sam’s voice, then his brother ducked and turned, pulling the flare gun from the pocket of his cargo jacket and bringing it up to fire in one smooth motion. The snuff-growl of the tall, emaciated creature echoed off the small confines of the cave. Before Dean could get the gun completely up and pointed where it would do the most damage, the wendigo swiped at him, its claws slashing across his upper arm, the force of the blow propelling Dean sideways, out of Sam’s line of sight.
“Dean!” Sam bellowed, trying to use his arms and left leg to push him out of the little slope he’d fallen into. The pain that lanced through the lower part of his right leg brought him up short. He could feel the warm, sticky sensation of blood running down the inside of his jeans.
With a growl of frustration and pain, he dropped his head back, trying to see Dean, the wendigo, anything. Then, he caught a movement out of the corner of his eye and remembered the shocking realization that had gotten him into this mess. There were two. And if Dean was tangling with one, then what he was seeing was the mate or partner or whatever the hell it was advancing for the kill.
“Dean!” he bellowed again, and this time he heard him.
“Fucking son of a bitch,” Dean was yelling, a grunt of pain following the phrase.
Sam’s brown eyes darted, trying to see something, a shadow, an arm, something that gave him some indication of where Dean was.
“Arggaahh!” Dean yelled and was suddenly in Sam’s line of sight as he flew over Sam’s head and hit the far wall at an alarming rate of speed. His body slid to a motionless pile at the base of the wall.
Shit, Sam thought, knowing that both wendigos were still above him as he hadn’t seen the flare gun or a torch or anything illuminate the cave before Dean’s aerial stunt took him out of the game. Sam had lost his gun when the boulder hit him, but he knew that Dean would still have his. He knew it would be clutched in his hand, conscious or not.
When he’d found Dean in the basement of the cabin with the Rawhead, nearly dead from a heart attack triggered by 100,000 volts of electricity, he’d had to pry the taser from his brother’s grip.
“Dean!” he called, twisting his neck so that he could see his brother. Dean didn’t move. Sam tried again, and this time he both heard and felt a shower of smaller rocks from the cliff edge above as a wendigo moved toward them, drawn no doubt by the scent of the blood he could feel pooling under his right leg. Puffing out a series of breaths to try to still the nausea that immediately hit when he shifted his leg, Sam started to pull himself toward Dean’s still form.
In seconds he was sweating, bright spots of light dancing in front of his eyes as the pain from his leg slammed into him in literal waves. The crest of each wave made him whimper or cry out depending on its intensity, the lull of each wave made him pause in his slow backwards crawl toward Dean as the relief made him weak.
In what seemed like a year, but was probably only a span of about three minutes, he felt Dean’s back under his outstretched hand. Dean was on his stomach, both arms underneath him. Sam paused, panting, and darted his eyes around the dimly lit cave. He couldn’t see either creature, but he could hear them, smell them. They exuded a rank odor of rotting flesh, dirt, and stagnant water.
Sam dropped his head back to the cave floor trying to catch his breath. Sweat ran down his face and inside of his shirt, despite the frigid air in the cave. Closer, Sam, it’s getting closer, he could almost hear his brother’s voice in his head. It was always Dean’s voice he heard when he was in trouble or hesitant. He knew Dean heard John – Dean had always heard John more clearly than he had anyone else – but for Sam, it was his brother’s voice commanding, comforting, encouraging, warning.
A guttural growl spurred him into action. He rotated his right arm over his head and fisted Dean’s jacket, rolling his brother to his back. Dean was limp, unresponsive. Sam swallowed, unable to clearly see his brother’s face from this angle. He reached out blindly to find Dean’s neck and searched with frantic fingers for a pulse. He felt it, faint, rapid, but there. First things first, Sammy, the voice that was Dean in his head reminded him. Kill the bad guy, then care for the soldiers.
Sam’s hands shook slightly as he gripped Dean’s arm, bringing it into his line of sight, praying it was this hand and not his left for some random reason. Though his fingers were loose, the flare gun was there. Sam worked it from his brother’s grip and rotated around to face the direction of the cliff. The stench was stronger now. Sam kept the gun up, darting his eyes around. He heard the gravel fall again from the cliff above.
And then it was there. Just there, it’s long claw-like fingers splayed, reaching, its sharp teeth dripping, and black pits where its eyes should be boring into Sam. He couldn’t see where the other one was, but one was enough for now.
He pulled the trigger, closing his eyes and turning his head as the flare lit up the torso of the wendigo, its shrill cry of agony drowning out any other sound and all other thought. In seconds the first creature was no more than a pile of ash and bone. Sam blinked a bit in the left-over light of the flare. His over-taxed brain flashed to the last time he’d seen a wendigo die by flare-gun fire. In the wake of the burst of light he’d seen his brother, battered, bloody, bruised, actually grinning as he stood on the other side of the creature.
“Not bad, huh?”
Sam began searching frantically for the second creature while patting down Dean’s jacket pockets for another flare.
“C’mon c’mon c’mon…” he chanted. Dean was always prepared. Extra prepared. John had literally drilled that into his brother from a young age. “Where is it, Dean,” he muttered.
He could feel rock salt pellets, car keys, an extra clip for the .45… he grunted as he pushed his brother onto his left side and felt his back pockets with the back of his hand. He was beginning to shake from the effort and the hot throb of pain from his lower leg was building on a crest again. If he didn’t find this flare soon, he was afraid that – there! There it was. Back pocket. Easy reach. Of course.
Sam dug it out, loaded the gun and shifted against Dean as his brother’s unconscious form slumped back against the cave floor.
“Where are you, you bastard,” Sam growled, keeping the gun up.
The cave was silent save for his harsh breathing. As the pain crested over him, Sam’s arms trembled. He lowered the gun to his lap, still looking around the cave. He couldn’t see his leg, but he knew by the pain that it was broken, and by the feel of the blood that the break was bad. He held himself tense as the pain eased again, then dropped his head back, resting it on the inside of Dean’s shoulder.
“Dean,” Sam called, holding his breath as he waited for a response. Dean hadn’t moved, hadn’t made a sound since he hit that wall.
The silence of the cave was beginning to suffocate Sam. He could feel his breath coming in harsh gasps, coming too fast.
“Dean,” this time his voice was less sure, less of a command for an answer, and more of a plea for reassurance. Answer me, big brother, let me know you’re still with me… let me know we’re getting out of this.
The flare gun dropped loose in his grip as he closed his eyes against another wave of pain. He then became aware of two things at once: Dean was stirring and the stench of the wendigo was gone. Had the second one left?
“Sam,” his name was a mere breath of air whispered across his brother’s still unaware lips. It wasn’t acknowledgment of his presence. It was simply Dean’s first thought upon waking, verbalized through his bewilderment.
“Dean, man, c’mon,” Sam swallowed. “I need you to wake up.”
He didn’t lift his head from Dean’s shoulder so that he could feel when his brother became more awake, ready to resume control. He felt Dean shift slowly and could picture him turning his head toward the weight on his shoulder, his green eyes blinking in pained confusion.
“Sam?” this time it was spoke with more strength. “How… did I get…”
“Wendigo. Tossed you into the wall.”
Dean groaned and Sam felt him shift again. “Why’r you layin’ on me?”
“Flare gun,” Sam panted through gritted teeth. His leg was on fire now.
“You get it?”
“One of them,” Sam answered.
“Shit, yeah, two,” Dean muttered. Sam felt him starting to relax, starting to fade, and that’s when the real worry set in.
“Dean!” he barked with as much force as he could put behind his voice. Dean jumped, suddenly more awake.
“Dean, I need your help, man,” Sam continued, allowing the pain to seep into his voice.
The plea in Sam’s voice brought him the rest of the way to awareness. He blinked up at the dark, blank canvas of the cave ceiling for a moment, gathering his bearings. His head pounded, he could feel the hot sting of the gashes on is left arm from the wendigo’s claws, and his vision wouldn’t stop sliding in and out of focus, but other than that, he seemed intact.
“You fell,” he said suddenly.
“Yeah,” Sam answered, unable to vocalize much more.
Dean shifted so that Sam’s head eased off of his shoulder and rested on the cave floor. He pushed himself into sitting position, waited a moment while his stomach caught up with his bouncing vision, then rolled to his knees. As he approached his prone brother, something Sam said suddenly registered.
“What happened to that other ugly mother?”
“Left,” Sam ground out.
One word answers were Dean’s stock in trade to handle pain. If Sam were adopting that trait, things were not good.
“Okay, take it easy, Sammy,” he soothed. “Let me take a look.”
Sam’s eyes were closed, his hands fisted at his sides. Dean remembered his brother’s pained gasp of my leg just before he managed to wrestle himself into a toss against a wall. He could see Sam’s left leg was up, bent at the knee. His right, however… Dean hissed.
“Okay, Sam, I’m not gonna bullshit you,” he said, his voice low. “This is not good.”
Sam nodded once. He was sweating and shaking, but he was focused on controlling his breathing. Dean’s here… Dean’s here… Dean’s here…
“Looks like the bone broke through the skin just below your knee,” Dean muttered, wishing for more light. “I’m gonna have to go up and get our bags… get the supplies.”
“Let me have the flare gun.”
“No,” Sam ground out.
“Waddaya mean, no?” Dean’s eyes flew to Sam’s face, surprised.
“I can see…better than you… in the dark. I can… watch for it,” Sam said, looking at his brother still perched at his lower leg.
“Whatever, Riddick,” Dean grumbled. “Like you could hit anything shaking like that.”
“Dude, TV… has an off button… and I hit the other one just fine,” Sam shot back.
Dean worked his jaw, knowing his brother was right.
“Just don’t miss,” he said, pressing his lips together to ward off a particularly harsh thump in his head. “Off button my ass, you knew what I was talking about,” he muttered as he turned to find a way back up the cliff face.
“I heard that,” Sam said.
“Well I said it out loud,” Dean snapped at him.
Sam concentrated on keeping his breaths even, blending the pain thrumming from his leg with the rhythm of his breathing. He kept his eyes on Dean, not missing the unsteady sway that his brother controlled just before he started to work his way, hand over hand, up the cliff face. At least it was a baby cliff.
He didn’t realize he’d said that thought out loud until he heard Dean’s curse in reply. He knew what his brother was doing. Antagonize him, keep him focused on the barbs, not on the pain. Get him irritated with Dean and he just might forget the waves of pain slicing through his leg. Dean had done this before. With the werewolf when he was 14, the poltergeist when he was 16, and that time he’d managed to break his arm on the basketball court when he was 10… his first and only non-supernatural injury.
“I’m up,” Dean called, breathless. “I got the bags.”
“You see an easier way down?”
“Geeze, Sammy, what the hell is easier than falling?”
“Just be careful,” Sam grumbled.
Dean had to stop and take a breath. His head was pounding and he kept seeing two of everything. He had to reach for the duffel handles three times before he actually grabbed them. Sweat kept running into his eyes and he rubbed it out impatiently with the back of his hand. Had to get back down to Sam. Leg looked bad. Had to set it, get him out of there. Somehow. He’d had trouble carrying his brother since he turned thirteen and overnight, it seemed, grew taller than Dean. And with the incessant burn in his arm, carrying Sam’s lanky bulk was pretty much a non-option.
Set leg, then worry about escape. First, he had to get down. He looked over the edge and almost threw up as his vision wavered again, the nausea hitting him like a wave.
“You okay, man?” Sam asked.
Dean hadn’t realized he’d closed his eyes until he opened them at Sam’s voice. “Sure, why?”
“You looked… you sure you’re okay?”
Dean wasn’t okay, and he was starting to register that. The crack to his head was harder than he realized. He swallowed. Then swallowed again. The instant he knew he was going to be sick, he turned away from the edge of the cliff.
“Damn,” he moaned, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He hated getting sick. He knew what this meant, though. With the pain, the double vision, the nausea…but he’d had concussions before and this could not stop him from helping Sam. A compound fracture trumps a concussion any day.
“I’m coming, Sam,” Dean said softly, hoping Sam’s ears were as good as his eyesight. “Just… just gimme a minute. I just need a minute.”
New Orleans, LA 2005
Dean shook his head. He had to get up, he knew it. Something was wrong with Sam if he was losing this bad in a fistfight. He tried to stand and ended up falling forward, catching himself with his hands. He heard a gasp of surprise and possibly of pain from one of his attackers. It’s about time, Sam, he thought. He just needed a minute… just a minute to catch his breath.
Another gasp, sounds of a struggle, and the unmistakable sound of flesh hitting flesh. Then, he swore he heard the sound of a knife stabbing into someone. It had a distinct muffled pop that he’d heard countless times before. But that didn’t make sense because he had the knife, not Sam… He felt hands on his shoulders, easing him back into sitting position.
Gentle hands probed the back of his head and he winced when they touched the bleeding gash at the back of his scalp. He tried to brush the hands away when they moved to his eyes, prying them open to check his alertness.
“M’okay,” he mumbled, trying desperately to sound as if he meant it.
“No, you are not,” said a voice that was definitely not Sam’s.
Dean’s eyes flew open. “Where’s Sam?” His voice sounded rough to his ears. Rough and worried.
Joss shrugged, “I do not know. I followed you, and when I got here, you were fighting two men. And losing,” he added, grimacing at the bruising already showing up around Dean’s left eye and on his forehead.
Dean started to push Joss away and stand. The world chose that moment to tilt dangerously to the side. To avoid sliding off the planet entirely, Dean eased back down until the world righted itself.
“Gotta find him,” he said. Where the hell was Sam?
“Man, that was weird,” Dean muttered. For a moment he felt as though he was actually back in those woods with Joss Coulee, realizing that his brother had been taken from him. “I’m coming down.”
With a barely muffled grunt of pain he slung their packs over his shoulders, ignoring the stabbing pain in his arm and worked his way slowly back down the cliff face.
“No bad guy?” he panted when he reached Sam.
“Not yet,” Sam replied, his voice thin with pain.
Dean dug into Sam’s pack for the flashlight with the halogen lamp on the side. “Think this will draw it?”
“We’ll smell it,” Sam said.
“We’ll smell it if it comes back.”
Dean cocked his head to the side, studying his brother. “Look at the college boy,” he teased, a soft grin tugging up the corner of his mouth. “Pretty smart, there, Sammy.”
He flicked on the halogen lamp, then dug the first aid kit out. He wiped the back of his hand across his forehead to block the sweat that seemed determined to fall into his eyes, reached around and drew out his knife from its sheath in his waistband, then gently cut away Sam’s jeans starting just above the knee. He sliced the material down the center so that it just fell off Sam’s leg. He registered that when focused on this task – caring for his brother – his vision remained thankfully steady.
He didn’t realize he’d been humming a steadying beat until he saw Sam’s head quirk up.
“Dude, is that… Zepplin?”
Dean’s hands paused. “Uh, yeah. Huh.”
“You do that a lot, you know,” Sam said, his eyes steady on Dean’s.
“Count the beats in a song,” Sam said, watching Dean’s eyebrows go up in surprise. “Mostly when you’re hurting.”
Dean could recognize a veiled attempt at checking on him when he heard one. “I’m fine, Sam.”
“Well, I’m not,” Sam said.
“Yeah, that much is clear, little brother,” Dean muttered, gathering the items he’d need from the first aid kit.
“Can you… can you sing it for me?” Sam asked through clenched teeth.
“What?” Dean’s head shot up in surprise.
“Y’know, like you used to,” Sam breathed out, trying to ride the wave of pain.
“Sam, that was… a long time ago,” Dean said, completely surprised by the request.
“I won’t tell.”
Dean looked at his brother, the pain pulling his skin taut across his features, the set of his jaw, the paleness of his skin. “Yeah, okay,” he said, then, “You want me to warn you?”
“When you start singing?”
“When I set this,” Dean said.
Dean licked his lips, pulling his lower one in and clamping it between his teeth for a moment. He poured the antiseptic over the small hole Sam’s bone protruded from. Sam groaned through clenched teeth squeezing his eyes shut tight.
“Leaves are falling all around, it's time I was on my way. Thanks to you, I'm much obliged for such a pleasant stay.”
He placed his left hand, his weaker hand, on the side of Sam’s bone, and gripped Sam’s leg with his right one. John had taught them field medicine early on, knowing that he would need help after hunting…
“But now it's time for me to go, the autumn moon lights my way. For now I smell the rain, and with it pain, and it's headed my way.”
Sam’s scream when he pulled the leg straight echoed off of the cave walls. It seemed to go on for hours, though in reality it lasted barely ten seconds. The scream tore into Dean and he actually curled over Sam’s leg.
“Easy,” he whispered, keeping his hands on Sam’s leg as the scream subsided into trembling whimpers as Sam fought for control. “Easy, kiddo, it’s over now.”
“Holy s-shit,” Sam gasped, tears in his voice.
“You did good, Sam,” Dean’s voice was a low murmur, as if talking his brother back from a ledge.
“Damn, that hurt,” Sam said, trying to suck it up, trying to take it. The way he knew his brother would. The way he knew his brother had because it was what his father wanted.
“It’s okay, Sammy,” Dean soothed. “It’s okay now.”
Sam blinked at those words. Those words he’d heard Dean say to one of them so many times…
Part Two can be found here: http://gaelicspirit.livejournal.com/9860.html