A/N: Written for glorfinniel's birthday, because she rocks.
He hated hunting at dusk, he really did. The shadows were long and moved like they hid something. The problem was that they easily could be hiding something. Dean had his knife out and was on high alert. He'd rather his gun of course, but he and Sam had both decided that, having failed to dissuade the family from camping out in the forest, they couldn't risk a stray bullet.
Also, a gunshot would alert the family to their presence and the family, more specifically, the father wouldn't be exactly happy with them hanging around the campsite. Who the hell takes four children out camping in the middle of nowhere anyway? Don't these people have any sense of danger? You might as well cover yourself in steaks and run into a pack of wolves. Come on, five children had gone missing from these woods in the past month, what kind of parent doesn't heed a warning like that?
But Dean wasn't thinking about any of these things, he was keeping an eye, ear and even nose out for the slightest hint of trouble. He was concentrating solely on what his senses were telling him. That was why, when he heard the slight rustling of the bushes and light footsteps on the springy ground, he didn't stop to think that it might be little Richie trying to get away from his annoying older brother. Dean assumed the parents would at least keep the children in their sight, that children would be too loud to sound like something stalking its prey, that no child would come this far out.
That was why, when the footsteps came near, he didn't think to look before he turned. He didn't think that perhaps striking out with the knife before he got a clear look at his attacker was a bad idea. That was why Dean found himself staring into the eyes of a very shocked Richie Young, holding the handle of the knife that was protruding from the small boy's shoulder.
Everything was quiet for just a few moments that could have been years long as far as either of them were concerned. Then Richie screamed and stumbled backwards and Dean let go of the knife like it was electrified. The boy fell backward and landed sitting down, Dean followed him down onto his knees. Their eyes had never left each other, Richie's wide in pain and fear, Dean's wide in shock.
He had to make it better, he had to make the little boy stop screaming, he had to make the little boy stop looking at him like that. He shuffled closer and Richie tried to shuffle back but that jarred his shoulder. He was still screaming, pausing only for breath, someone would be coming soon, Dean had to make it better before then.
That shoulder, it was covered in blood, that was where he'd have to start. The knife, Dean needed that knife, what if something had been lead here by the screams? He reached for the knife and the boy tensed, silenced at last. Dean kicked himself mentally, don't remove the knife, of course, don't do that. Stop the bleeding, that was a better plan of action.
Dean pinched the wound closed around the knife in the front and did the same to the exit wound with his other hand. God, the knife looked so big stuck through a shoulder like that, such a small shoulder. The boy was wimpering, looking up at Dean through his too-long hair. It was then that Dean realised he was talking, saying little things he hoped were reassuring, telling the boy that he was stopping the bleeding and that it was good to stop the bleeding, that's what you should do.
"Shit, Dean!" Dean looked up sharply at Sam, who'd just appeared, he'd probably followed the none-too-quiet screaming.
"It's all fine, it's ok, I'm handling it!"
"Fine? Jesus, Dean, you're covered in blood! What have you done?" What had he done? What had he done? He'd stabbed a kid, Jesus, he'd stabbed a little boy and he told Sam as much. He wasn't making anything better, he was the reason it was all so bad, he couldn't make it better. He let go of the boy's shoulder and backed up fast.
"Dean! What the hell are you doing?" said Sam as he rushed to take Dean's recently vacated place. Dean couldn't answer, he was staring at his hands. Covered, covered in blood that wasn't his own, wasn't even his family's and he'd caused it.
"Richie!" someone somewhere screeched, it was his mother. Dean couldn't bring himself to look up at her, he wanted to run away but his hands would still be with him, he couldn't run away from his hands.
"Dean! Dean!" that was Sam yelling at him, he could look at Sam. Sam was looking at him pleadingly through his too-long hair, Jesus Christ he could look so young sometimes. "Dean, help me move him, Dean, please!" Yes, he could do that, he could help make things better if Sam was there.
He ignored the mother's ineffectual attempts to keep him away from her son and held Richie's legs. The boy was shivering now, face taught with pain that the shivering caused but he was unable to stop it. Dean looked to Sam to see when to lift, Sam was talking, instructions and comforting words but it was all faint and distant so he just followed Sam's lead and lifted when he did. Richie moaned and his mother grabbed Dean's arm and tried to pull him away but they were moving through the trees now, surprisingly fast seeing as it felt like he was moving through water.
Sam started shouting orders as soon as they got to the campsite, for a table and for a medical kit and for someone to call the park rangers. The kids got right to it while the mother hovered over Richie. The father, once Richie had been put down, went straight for Dean, demanding to know what had happened. Dean told him straight out that he'd stabbed Richie and then told him again, then again and again until the father had him pushed up against a tree. The father was yelling something in his face but Dean couldn't hear it, his brain was still trying to deal with what his own mouth had been saying.
The punch the father delivered didn't phase Dean much either, even if it did make his vision waver and wobble like he was drunk. The second punch to his stomach did result in Dean reflexively curling in on himself, but it still didn't really register. He didn't even raise his hands to protect himself because that would bring them into his line of sight, the proof that he stabbed a small boy, done exactly what he was trying to prevent. Nothing else really seemed to matter.
"Dean, Dean are you with me?" except for Sammy, Sammy always mattered, "Does anything hurt?" Dean shook his head. Sammy was kneeling, huh, when had he ended up on the floor? And where had the father gone? He should really keep an eye on what was going on. "Dean you have to tell me what happened,"
"I stabbed him,"
"Yes, I know Dean. Was there... anything else there?"
"No, no, he crept up on me. I... I thought he was... something else," Dean's eyes wandered down to Sam's hands, they were covered in blood as well, the blood he caused, he couldn't look away. "How... how is he, Sam?"
"He's alive. Help'll be here in a couple of minutes," Dean continued staring at the rusty brown, flaking blood on his brother's arms. "Hey, Dean, hey," Sam put a finger under Dean's chin and pulled his head up so Dean had to look him in the eyes, "It wasn't your fault, ok? It was an accident," Dean found that funny, far funnier than it should have been.
"Sam, I stabbed him, of course it's my fault!" he gestured to where the family were gathered around the table, all of them dividing their attention between Richie and seeing what the brothers were going to do.
"Dean, you look pale, are you sure you're not hurt?" Dean nodded that yes, he was sure, so Sam pulled him to his feet, only to have his knees give way beneath him. Standing up didn't usually cause that much trouble. "Ok, Dean, ok," Sam was back on the floor with him, "Are you sure you're not hurt anywhere? Dean? I need to know," Dean thought about it, Sammy needed him to tell the truth.
"Yes, I can see that, you're going to have one hell of a bruise," Dean's eyes wandered back down to where Sam was holding onto his arm, both of them covered in blood, a little boy's blood, "Dean, Dean? Look at me," Dean looked up at Sam, "I'm going to go see how Richie's doing, ok?" Dean nodded, Sam should definitely be making things better for Richie. Sam shouldn't be sitting here with him, there wasn't even anything wrong with him.
So Sam left him to sit and stare at his hands and at the bloody handprints on his front and watch the moment he stabbed a small boy playing over and over in his head. He could hear it slide in, see the wide-eyed shock on the boy's face, feel the boy's slight shudders travel up the knife handle into his hand. He'd been lucky, had Dean not been expecting something much bigger, the knife would have been much nearer the heart and he would have bled out before they got him to the campsite. He could still bleed out and it would be Dean's fault, it would be Dean's knife. He'd be a murderer, a murderer of small children. He didn't want to be a murderer, he liked children.
He could hear the sound of tyres coming up the track. There were few times when he'd been so glad to hear the authorities coming.
Dean stood up on his still shaky legs and made his way over to the table, only to find his way blocked by the father.
"That's close enough," Dean tried to go around the father but had no success, "Don't you think you've done enough?"
"Is he going to be ok?"
"You didn't seem to care when you stuck a knife into my son!" Dean flinched visibly at the words.
"Is he still alive? Is he going to be ok?" Dean tried to get around the father again.
"Get away from my family!" the father shoved him hard and Dean, unable to move his legs quick enough to keep up, fell back. Sam appeared then and had stern words with the father that Dean couldn't hear because he was dealing with the pain the sprouted at the back of his head when he hit the floor. Once it looked like the father had backed off, Sam knelt down beside Dean and helped him into a sitting position.
"Are you all right?"
"Am I a murderer?"
"Is he dead? Did I murder him?"
"No, Dean, no. It was an accident and he's in good hands now,"
"But he could still die!" Sam hesitated before replying and Dean's mind immediately jumped to worst case scenarios. The images flashed before him, from the cold, dead body of little Richie, to the blood-streaked knife, to him sitting in a prison cell, away from Sammy, away from anyone. He could hear the knife sliding in, feel it so easily parting flesh and muscle, see the blood blooming from the wound and trickling down.
"Dean! Dean!" Sam sounded so very far away, "Dean, nice deep breaths now, come on," Dean was swaying slightly, and leaned into Sam for support, everything was going dark, the sun didn't usually sink that fast. "Dean, breathe with me, come on, calm down," calm down? Calm down? Dean would have laughed if he'd had enough air in his lungs. He was a murderer! A murderer of small children! How could he calm down? No, calming down was out of the question, even though he did feel terribly dizzy and it was getting even darker now, how long had they been sitting here?
"Dean, Dean can you hear me?" His eyelids weren't usually that heavy were they? And was that a mask over his face? They seemed to be in a car or something as well, "Dean?" Ah, eyes were open, that was a good start. Though Sam was right there in his face, he could do without that. Dean weakly pushed Sam away.
"Give him some room," said someone out of his line of vision, sounded female though. Sam moved back and Dean tried to sit up, but Sam's hand was there on his chest stopping him. He frowned at Sam and removed the mask from his face.
"Dude, what the hell?"
"Dean, you hyperventilated and passed out, you don't need to sit up just yet," hyperventilated and passed out? Why would- oh shit, he remembered why. His eyes went wide and he gripped Sam's arm hard.
"How is he?"
"We don't know, but we're just five minutes from the hospital,"
"You passed out in front of a paramedic, there wasn't much I could do to stop them taking you,"
"Not allergic to hospitals, are you?" said the female voice, probably the paramedic. She was still out of his sight, though Sam was taking up quite a lot of his vision with the way he was still hovering there.
"Not my favourite place in the world," replied Dean. Those last five minutes to the hospital were horrible and when they finally got there it didn't get much better. All that either of them could get out of the family was that Richie wasn't dead, which was a relief, but a small one without knowing what his chances of surviving were.
Neither of them had a change of clothes, so they were still blood covered, even after washing away everything on their skin. In the hours between arriving and hearing of Richie's fate Dean was sure he'd developed at least five stomach ulcers and had developed a strong aversion to any liquid sounds due to the images that they kept bringing up.
Finally Richie's older sister came out, grinning so blindingly it was blatantly obvious that Richie was going to be fine. Still, actually hearing her say it was enough of a relief that Dean almost fainted again and had to sit down. Sam sat next to him.
"You ok there?" Dean said nothing for a moment, just breathing deep breaths.
"No," Sam raised an eyebrow at Dean, "We've still got to kill those evil bastards," Sam nodded.
"You want to go get them tonight?" Dean nodded, it might not make up for almost killing an innocent boy and he had some images that were going to stick with him for a long while but killing something would make him feel better. Killing something evil, something that deserved it, something that had killed children and had enjoyed it. It would make him feel just a little bit better, good enough that this incident could just blend into the background. Just one more thing in his past to avoid thinking about. That kind of pain he could deal with.
TBC... Well, that was Dean's point of view, we get Sam's next.