I'm an awful person. I really, really am. If anyone, by some slim chance, is still actually reading this – you have my eternal gratitude. Because seriously, I don't expect anyone to have to put up with my terrible update times! If you're frustrated, I don't blame you. I would be too. I have no good excuse other than being a busy college student with a job, a partying roommate, and very limited free time. I have been keeping up with the stories I'm following, though, because so far I've found it more important to continue to provide reviews to those who deserve them than to update this story – which actually, guys, I'm beginning to dislike – instead. I'm not saying I hate this fic, just that I could have done a lot more to improve it and make it flow better.

I've actually found a few inconsistencies that I'm dying to fix, but I don't really have the time for that...just gotta work with what I have, I guess! I don't want to depress anyone, I think I'm sorta bringing down the mood here...I'm actually really happy with my life, just really busy! THANKS so much to everyone who continues to read this, your reviews and constant support are the reason why I'm making myself update now. And haha, from now on I'm either sticking to oneshots or completely writing out the story ahead of time, so hopefully no more long updates in the future *smiles sweetly* And oh, I may just include everyone's favorite character in this chappie! You know, the one that starts with a "B"... Hope that's a good enough apology...

So again, I truly AM sorry...and without further ado, here's the sixth chapter! Please R&R to let me know you're still here...although I don't blame you if you're not. But wait, I guess if you're reading this, that means you ARE here...whatever. I'm tired.

(By the way, this is sort of a really early season 3 fic - after the deal, but before major episodes later this season; so no real spoilers other than for season 2.)


Sam was freaking out. While the absence of the chainsaw-wielding demon-like creature should have made him happy, in reality it was just placing an ominous cloud over the entire forest. There was an air of expectation and doom all around him, and a creepy silence throughout the entire area. He couldn't hear any birds chirping, any twigs breaking from the step of an animal, not even any leaves rustling in the wind. It was like he was all alone in his hopeless quest out of the woodsall the other creatures had somehow sensed the evil and either hid, or left, long ago. Animals had an innate sense of danger, like a sixth sense just inherently present in their makeup. Sam couldn't help but wish that humans were so lucky...he and Dean might very well not be in this situation if they could have anticipated the impending doom that would come with entering the forest.

His arm was now numb.

Sam supposed this was a good thing, at least for the present moment, but nonetheless a fairly bad indicator of the severity of the injury. The point when the body begins to block pain through natural painkillers is usually a bad sign.

But it did help him concentrate on the mission at hand.

Dean was still sitting in a dark and dirty hole in the ground, injured and who knew in what type of mindset. Sam was his only hope for rescue, and he wasn't about to get sidetracked by some meager flesh wound. It wasn't the Winchester way.

He had been trying to run throughout the majority of his trek through the underbrush, but at this point it had become virtually impossible to do so. Even being in excellent shape, his body was in no condition to endure further physical exertion. He was panting hard, lungs burning in their attempt to draw significant oxygen and throat dry and painful from a lack of water. He had drained whatever store of was left about an hour ago, back when he thought he was still somewhat close to the turnoff back to the road. At that point, he should have only had less than a mile to go until the trail that led back to civilization; but he had been hiking an additional hour and had yet to spy his destination. He was at least two miles ahead of where he had wanted to be.

It was safe to say he was lost.

Did he underestimate the distance? He was pretty sure he didn't read the map wrong, but those things were never all that clear.

Even worse of a possibility, did he miss the turn?

Sam blanched at the idea. He couldn't have missed it. He was looking for it, paying attention – it was vital that he found it. It was the only way to safely reach the main road, the only clear-cut path. Veering off to the left at this point in some blind attempt to hit pavement was near suicide, as the woods were simply too dense to have any hope of making it out.

If Sam had missed it, missed his only chance to help Dean, the nearest way back to the modern world, it would mean turning back and hiking two more agonizing miles, not even with any certainty that he'd find the path that he was looking for after doubling back. What if it was now overgrown? No longer there? Turning around could be a devastating waste of time. And he didn't have any time whatsoever.

Sam couldn't believe he was such a friggin' failure. If he and Dean's positions were reversed, Dean would have already found some way out – would've found some way to get them out of the situation. Sam was so eager to fill his brother's shoes, yet once the situation actually called for it he just couldn't step up.

His dad had been right, all those times he chided him as a kid. Sam wasn't tough enough. Wasn't strong enough. "Why can't you be more like your brother, son?"

Sam sighed.

Why can't I?

Dean was strong. Dean was reliable. Dean knew what to do in times like this. But right now, it was up to Sam. And he just couldn't find the strength. He brushed dripping wet strands of his long brown hair out if his irritated eyes, stopping for a slight second to get his bearings. Placing his hands on his knees, he was slightly chagrined to find them bloody; he had fallen just a little while back on some rocks, and it seemed like he had actually been scraped up pretty badly.

Awesome.

His boots were caked in mud, rubber soles tearing from the leather. They weren't meant for hiking, let alone running through rock-strewn trails. They were just a burden,
adding additional weight to his overworked legs. Damnit, why didn't he and Dean think to wear sneakers? He winced as he looked down at his wounded arm, not from pain – as it was still mostly numb – but more from disgust. It looked worse than it had earlier. The shirt wrapped around the injury, meant to stem the flow of blood, was now coated in dark brown crust, and there was a slight stench from what Sam hoped to simply be trapped sweat and body odor. He didn't let himself think it was dying tissue. No, he wouldn't go there. It would just freak him out, distract him from what he needed to do. But as he attempted to shift the fabric, trying to stretch it a bit over his arm to let in some fresh air, he found that it was completely adhered to his skin from dried blood and congealed pus.

So that wasn't a good sign.

But what could Sam do about it? Nothing, that was what. Sighing, he tried to assess other injuries he may have had. His bare chest, exposed after he had removed his t-shirt to use as a tourniquet, was dripping blood from a nasty scratch inflicted by a tree branch, a scratch that burned like hell as sweat dripped into the open flesh. He was covered in hundreds of other small cuts, found all over his body, as well as maybe twenty to thirty mosquito bites that itched like none other.

Though not at all happy about his current state, Sam was simply grateful that most everything – besides his arm, of course – was superficial. That didn't change the fact, however, that his body still hurt all over. His muscles protested loudly at the exertion he was submitting them to, and his head felt like it was going to explode. He went in and out of double vision, unsure of whether or not it was caused by a bump on the head he simply didn't remember or from dehydration.

But again, it had to be ignored.

He just had to figure out what to do next, before the demon returned.

oo00O00oo

Dean jolted awake with a scream of pain.

Oh God, his leg. Jesus effing Christ, it hurt like a bitch. He bit back tears, not willing himself to openly cry – not too sure why, as he was the only one in this godforsaken hole, but hearing his father's voice echoing in his head; telling him that tears do nothing to fix the pain.

But damnit if he didn't just want to cry anyway. He was horrified to feel a burst from an apparent lesion on his leg; and then the sensation of warm fluid flowing down his skin. Tentatively reaching a shaking and unsteady hand down to his lower extremity to gauge the cause of this new development, as he still couldn't see in the utter darkness, he gasped as he sensed what seemed to be large blisters forming beneath his jeans – which were, by the way, stretched increasingly tighter over his skin. He was also suddenly aware of the fact that his boot was cutting off the circulation to his foot.

Swelling. Crap. If he didn't take off his boot right now, he could completely lose all blood flow to his foot – which would surely mean amputation. No, he couldn't go there. Not an option. But with horror, he began to realize that it wasn't just his foot that had swelled up – but rather his entire leg. Fluid from the infection had built up under the skin, creating pressure as it hit the resistance of his shoe and of his jeans. The pressure had begun to force blood, pus, and fluid from the infection to the top of the skin, creating blisters as they reached the surface; blisters which simply ruptured as his jeans applied pressure to the lesion. Though the bone that had broken through his skin had relieved some of the deadly pressure, the severity of the injury and the confines of his clothing had rendered any relief this fact might bring insignificant.

Dean realized with a jolt that this injury had now crossed over into life-threatening. Not only was he losing blood flow to his leg, which could mean amputation (should he ever get out of this hellhole), but there was so much fluid building up in the extremity that there was a large chance of it entering to his blood stream, travelling to the rest of his body, and potentially killing him.

Though Dean had been weaving in and out of both consciousness and sanity, this jolt of reality brought a moment of lucidity. He needed to get out, to help Sam, to kill this evil sonofabitch – but he still couldn't move. This wasn't right. He needed – wanted – to be out there, fighting the good fight. But Sam was now the one in danger, out there all by himself, simply because Dean had been stupid enough to fall for the damned trap set by the demon.

He was a failure.

oo00O00oo

Bobby was worried. Damn those boys all to hell, what was with them trying to bite off more than they could chew? They were both as stubborn as mules, something they had both inherited from their daddy – more by necessity than by inherent nature, as John simply demanded hard work and virtual perfection on the part of his boys. Sure, he loved his sons – more than what was probably healthy, actually – but he sure didn't know how to show it. Those two boys were put through hell from childhood on, and even though John was no longer there physically, he still had an enduring hold on their behavior.

Bobby cursed under his breath as he hung up the phone, pinching the bridge of his nose and pacing back and forth through his living room.

He had called both boys nearly ten times in the past two hours, getting their voicemails every time. He had left a message the first time, a somewhat joking stab at their inability to get rid of the thing on time, with a hint of concern thrown in for their well-being. The second time, he hadn't been able to hide the slight tremble in his voice as he asked if they were okay – "Just call me if you need help, boys. Don't try and tackle too much, recklessness never helped anyone." The third missed phone call had left him nearly yelling through the line, more out of fear than his temper. And from that call on, he hadn't been able to leave a message. He just hung up with anger, cursing loudly, as the recorded voicemail message hit his ears.

He had asked those boys if they needed help. He called Dean for an update, to see what was going on, and caught the kid as he and Sam were leaving a diner; they had just heard of a case involving chainsaw murders in the woods somewhere and were going to check it out.

"You sure you know enough about this case, boy?" Bobby's voice was meant to be casual, though his serious intent and paternal tone were evident.

"Yeah yeah Bobby, it's small fry. Believe me, me and Sam are just gonna scope it out. Get some fresh air, kill that evil sonofabitch."

Then Sam's voice, from the background. "Dean, we're just checking it out, no killing anything today. We don't even know what it is yet."

A sigh on the other end of the phone.

"Dean? What was that? You don't know what you're dealing with, son?" His anger was visibly rising.

"Calm down Bobby, it's fine. We've got an arsenal here, remember. I think we'll be okay." And damnit if the kid didn't through in a cocky laugh.

Bobby sighed. He was fighting a losing battle, and he knew it. "Just..."

"Yeah, yeah. We'll call you if we need help, okay? We're only gonna be a couple of hours anyway, I'll call you later and let you know how it went. Tell ya all the dirty and gruesome details, if that's what floats your boat."

"Swear, son? Cause if I don't get a call, I'll have your hide. You're not indestructible, Dean."

There was a moment of silence. Bobby knew that Dean respected him; he could only joke for so long. "Yeah, I swear. okay? Just don't friggin' worry, I'm all grown up now."

"Alright, well I guess-"

"I'll call you later, Bobby. Thanks for offering help, but I've got this one."

"Just be careful, son."

"You've got it."

Recalling this conversation, Bobby felt a pit form in his stomach. Dean never went back on his word, especially to him – and especially when it involved a hunt. He could act the smartass all he wanted, but he knew the severity of his job, and the consequences that came with his actions. He always picked up the phone, always called when he promised that he would. Not to mention Sam...the friggin' embodiment of charm and courtesy. He wasn't picking up either.

Damnit.

Bobby was going to Colorado.

Grabbing his jacket, he ran out to his truck, slammed his foot on the gas pedal, and sped from the driveway.

oo00O00oo

Sam wasn't ready to turn back. Not yet. He had decided that it was more likely he had just underestimated the distance of the turnoff than he had missed it altogether. Because if he had missed it, that would mean – most definitely – that it wasn't there at all. No way he could have failed to notice a glaring turn from the path, especially when he was looking so concertedly for it. And if it was overgrown, the only other possibility, then there was no point in turning back anyway.

He would just have to keep going; the path had to end somewhere, right?

A bit rejuvenated, completely convinced that the turnoff had to be up ahead, that it just had to be – he began jogging. Then he began running. He didn't know where the energy came from; apparently the human body reacted miraculously under situations such as these...adrenaline was an amazing thing.

However, the thing about running is that it's harder to slow down. And it's easier to miss the dangers that lie up ahead.

Sam didn't see the drop off that the path ended in. The 20-ft high rocky cliff that was waiting for him.

He was running a little too fast, and noticed a little too late.

TBC


I'm sorry guys – cliffhanger galore, and I don't know when the update will come. *hides from everyone* I swear this is a huge priority to me, but when I say I'm a busy college student...not kidding. I have a 5 page Science research paper, a 4 page English essay, and a 3 page Spanish composition due next week. So I'll be doing a lot of writing, yes, but not the kind that I'd prefer.