By Dolen Feredir
Disclaimer: They don't belong to me and I'm not making any money from writing this story.
Notes: This takes place after the events in 'Nightmare' (episode 1.14) and contains spoilers for anything up to and including that episode.
Rating: T for some swearing
Part 1: Hunting in the Dark
Dean felt the air leave his lungs as he impacted with the tree. He fell to the ground and found himself staring upwards into the stormy sky. The hunter cursed as the heavy rain fell onto his unprotected face. Dean sat up quickly, cursing again as his vision swam but he had no time to sit there and recuperate. The thing was fast - too fast for the number of bullets they'd put into it already. He struggled to his feet, trying to ignore the throbbing in his head and the pull in his chest.
Dean pushed himself to run as the fight had already moved beyond his line of sight. He had dropped his gun at some point during his flight into the tree, but didn't waste time looking for the weapon. It wasn't like the rock-salt bullets had any effect on the creature anyway. In any case, the young man was nothing if not heavily-armed. Something had to work.
Dean drew his knife, wincing as he did. Definitely some bruised ribs there.
The muddy ground was becoming dangerously slippery, slowing Dean down as he attempted to rejoin the fight. He really hated hunting when the weather was like this. Not that he was prone to whining, but he was cold, wet and sore. The ground was slippery as hell, the driving rain was making it hard to see, and the intermittent lightning that illuminated the area was only partially helpful. It also would've been better if the creature they were hunting wasn't black.
Despite the inherent difficulties in this particular hunt, it didn't take long for Dean to reach the fight. His brother was doing an admirable job of keeping the creature busy.
Sam was raising his gun to fire when the dark creature attacked, driving the hunter backwards. It roared in rage, slashing out at Sam with razor-sharp claws. Sam dodged gracefully, not wasting more than a second before bringing his gun to bear once more. Dean watched as the younger Winchester fired another round into the animal, making it howl.
It retreated a short distance and stared at its opponent as though trying to determine how best to kill him. There was no indication that the bullet had actually caused any physical damage to the beast.
Wonderful. The thing was not only incredibly strong and fast, but impervious to rock salt, bullets, and holy water. To top that off, Sam's silver rounds only seemed to make the animal angry.
Dean caught up with Sam, who spared a quick glance in his direction to assure himself the elder Winchester was in one piece. The brothers kept their distance from one another - no sense letting their prey catch them both at the same time.
"Bullets don't work," Sam noted calmly as he fired another round anyway. A low growl from the pacing animal was the only response.
"I noticed," Dean replied. He kept his gaze fixed firmly on his prey as he attempted to circle behind it.
"Fire?" Sam questioned.
"Probably," Dean groaned. They didn't have the gas can and everything around them was soaking wet. "Great."
A flash of lightning gave Dean a brief opportunity to actually see what he was hunting. The creature's dark hair was plastered to its massive frame. It was painfully apparent that its size was not merely due to poofy hair - this animal was all muscle. It stared at Dean with intelligent eyes as though daring the hunter to try something. Dean looked straight into the glowing yellow orbs.
He had never been one to back away from a dare.
Curling its lips back, the creature showed off a rather impressive collection of incredibly sharp-looking teeth. Another rumbling growl filled the air. As though finished with its appraisal of the situation, the animal sprang forward again.
Dean leapt aside as the creature attacked. He cursed as he hit the ground, his sore ribs protesting the harsh treatment. Rolling to the side, Dean prepared for the feeling of claws slashing into his skin. With a furious yell, he readied his knife, but the onslaught never came.
The animal had already moved on.
Squinting as lightning once again lit up the clearing, Dean swore as the creature rushed Sam. His brother never had a chance to dodge the attack this time.
Hunter and prey fell to the ground in a tangled heap. Sam struggled as he was pinned under the weight of the animal. He pushed his gun into the creature's neck in an effort to keep the snapping maw away from his face.
Dean swore and regained his feet. For some reason the animal hadn't already sliced Sam's neck with its claws, but that didn't mean it would hold off forever. A sickly yellow glow was beginning to emanate from the creature. Dean gripped his knife more tightly and raced across the short distance that separated him from his beleaguered sibling.
In the few seconds it took Dean to reach them, Sam's struggles were weakening and the creature's glow was almost blindingly bright. It was planning to end the fight.
Without hesitation, Dean threw himself forward and plunged his knife deeply into where he thought the creature's heart would be.
The pain was surprising - he hadn't expected it to hurt.
Tiny pinpricks of energy flowed into his arm like a thousand needles driving into his skin, but Dean held on. He twisted the knife as the creature thrashed. It's clawed hands raked the air as it howled and tried to buck him off its back.
Dean hoped Sam had managed to get clear before the claws started flying, but there was no time to worry about that now.
Driving pain spread throughout Dean's body, growing in intensity until he felt his hold weakening. Gritting his teeth, the hunter forced himself to hold on as the creature's death throes slowed. Black fur glistened in the rain as it sank to the forest floor. The glow pulsed erratically, competing with the lightning as it cast unnatural illumination through the clearing. Through the agony, Dean realised the dark animal had given in to its fate. Heaving a final time, the creature let out one last massive breath as it finally stilled.
Just as Dean breathed a sigh of relief, the yellow light exploded, sending blinding brightness cascading from the animal's dead body. A physical impact followed, sending the elder Winchester careening across the clearing.
This time when Dean landed after his impromptu flight, he did not get up again.