Author's Note: I am so shocked (and pleased) by the response I got on the first chapter. I tried to send a review reply to everyone I could but I'm sorry if I accidentally missed you. (I know if you happened to reply a bit later I didn't get a chance to send one out, so thank you so much!)
And once again thanks to Puddleofdrool for the prompt, and Sendintheclowns for the marvelous (and once again speedy…this person is like a madwoman with edits) beta.Part 2/2
On the future path filled with thorns
Who knows if the shining morning ahead
have his own beaming thorns?
May be even sharper than the ones on its path and curb.
Olufunmbi Aransiola - Excerpt from "Thorn in the Future"
Shining Morning Ahead
"C'mon, Sammy, just a bit farther," Dean encouraged as he guided his brother around a steep incline. He learned early it was much easier to take a flat path, even if it took a bit longer.
Steadying his pace, Dean looked over at his brother, who was clinging desperately to his left side.
The rain turned into a full-fledged downpour long, slowing their pace considerably. The mud continually sloshed beneath their feet, making it extremely difficult to find their balance.
Feeling Sam listing a bit down his side, Dean strengthened his grip around his back. "Sammy, you with me?"
Sam breathed a shaky "Y-Yeah," which did nothing to ease Dean's nerves.
Dean glanced down at his brother's waterlogged hair. Sam was all but limp in his arms, his left foot just skimming above the ground. Dean bent down a bit closer to look at his makeshift bandage around Sam's ankle. Even through the rain, it was easy to tell the torn t-shirt was doing nothing to stanch the bleeding.
Shit. It was amazing how their whole situation could be summed up in one word. They were in the middle of the worlds, with no reception, a broken ankle from an old, rusty bear trap, and no way to yell for help with a Sasquatch roaming around. And to top it all off it was raining cats and dogs…supposedly cats and dogs had something to do with how bad it rained. Shit, shit, shitity shit shit.
It was amazing how their whole situation could be summed up in one word. They were in the middle of the worlds, with no reception, a broken ankle from an old, rusty bear trap, and no way to yell for help with a Sasquatch roaming around.
He was so busy looking over Sam's bandage and cursing to himself, he almost toppled over as Sam swayed against him. "Sam, wake up!" Dean yelled in a harsh whisper as he steadied himself and his brother.
Sam merely sank into Dean's arms, no longer having the strength to hold himself up on one foot. "C-cold," he stammered between his chattered teeth.
Dean bent down and placed each of his hands on Sam's face, forcing the boy to look at him in the eyes.
Sam swayed a bit, trying to find his balance on the slippery forest floor. He blinked a couple times trying to get the rain out of his eyes and focus on Dean's face. He kept on readjusting his eyes against the dark and the rain. Why was the rain making everything so blurry? Dean was barely three inches away from his face and he still couldn't see him clearly.
Not liking the detached look in Sam's eyes, Dean placed his arms around Sam's shoulders and hoisted him up against him once more. "C'mon, Gimpy, we gotta get you out of the rain."
"Don't call me that," Sam slurred, sounding like he had one too many drinks in him.
Focusing on trying to find shelter from the storm, Dean slowly started moved a couple steps forward, guiding the one-legged Sam with him. "What…Gimpy? Would you prefer something cooler like Gimpsters? Or what about Mr. McGimp?" he asked, his voice light, hoping his teasing would keep the kid alert.
"I…hate you," Sam wheezed as he struggled to keep up with Dean's pace. He knew Dean wasn't moving that fast. The way he paused in between each step told him that much. But, for some reason, his one good leg no longer had the strength to lift itself off the ground, let alone hop along with his evil two-legged brother. 'Gimpy' my ass. How about I kick you in the head, and then we'll see who's gimpy?
Dean threw him out of his thoughts as he sharply turned to the left. Sam's foot slightly slid under the soft mud, but he quickly regained his balance.
"I see an overhang. Let's go before the storm gets any worse," Dean said, walking towards what appeared to be a large, overgrown ledge that tilted inward.
Sam saw the ledge as a blessing, a chance to sit down and rest. Wait out the storm until the morning when their father would undoubtedly find them. "Thank God," he whispered as he picked up his pace.
"Whoa there, Speedy Gonzales, where was this energy five minutes ago?" Dean asked, inwardly smiling at his brother's eagerness.
Sam chose to remain quiet. As long as he was out of the rain, he brother could call him whatever he wanted…as long as it wasn't Gimpy. At this point, he'd take Sammy over Gimpy.
They couldn't reach the overhang fast enough. Granted, in Sam's opinion, two hours ago, before the whole one-legged in a rainstorm situation, wouldn't have been fast enough.
Dean promptly guided Sam to the floor and carefully stretched out the boy's injured leg to check the wound.
It was strange. Sam barely felt it as Dean poked and prodded around his wound. He simply lay down on the ground and stretched his arms about his head until the rock stopped him. He just felt numb…and a bit fuzzy. He wasn't sure if someone could feel fuzzy, but he didn't care to elaborate on it. Right now, he was in paradise. A nine by four foot paradise.
And nothing else mattered.
He slowly rolled his head towards Dean's voice. What?
"Sam, wake up!"
I am awake. What's your problem?
He instantly felt two strong hands on his shoulders. "Sam!"
He didn't realize his eyes were even closed until he opened him to Dean's blurry face.
"Wha'?" he asked. Even to his own ears his words sounded slurred and mumbled.
Dean didn't like the glazed look in Sam's eyes or how his cheeks appeared to be pasty white. "Sam, you feelin' okay?"
Rolling his eyes, Sam looked away from his brother, tired of him treating him as if he was five. "I'm fine," he proudly stated. He was sixteen for God's sake. He could take care of himself.
That instantly irked Dean. Something was most definitely wrong. The boy was caught in a rusty bear trap, broke his ankle, and dragged through the rain. He should be anything but fine.
He didn't like the pale look in Sam's face, but he knew it was inevitable considering the blood loss. He was more worried about how much blood Sammy lost. Looking back over Sam's elongated frame, Dean noticed a slight tremble in his upper body. "Dude, you're shaking," he said, his strong voice hiding his current fear.
Sam turned his head to the side and barely opened his eyes for his response. "I'm also wet and cold, Sherlock," he muttered sleepily.
"Sam," Dean snapped, hoping to wake his brother up from his reverie. He slightly leaned over and put his hand in front of his brother's face. "How many fingers am I holding up?"
Sam's eyes blinked open, but promptly closed them again. "A nummer…" he groaned.
Dean glared down at the kid. He really wasn't in the mood to deal with his brother's smart ass attitude. Sighing, he figured he would deal with grumpy Sam later; first, he had to make sure he prevented him from going into shock. Hell, the kid could be halfway there with the way his was acting so agitated.
He needed to stop Sam's trembling. He knew it was probably from the cold rain like Sammy said, even his fingers were feeling a bit numb, but he still didn't like the tremors that racked through Sam's upper body. He bent over the boy's lanky frame and carefully took off his jacket.
"Wha'…doin'?" Sam moaned as his body shifted.
"I'm getting you out of your wet jacket. Just try to stay awake for me," Dean instructed as he shrugged off his own leather jacket and placed it over Sam's trembling body. His jacket was lined to it was much warmer than Sam's. After making sure the jacket was secure, he placed Sam's jacket over his own, knowing the insulation was needed while the wetness wouldn't penetrate through the leather.
Satisfied with his work, Dean moved his attention down to the boy's ankle. He had already tied a second bandage around the broken appendage, but it still wasn't doing much to stanch the bleeding. Son of a bitch.
Already using his undershirt for the previous bandages, he took off his black Led Zeppelin shirt and looked at it longingly, sad to see it go. Sighing, he took out his pocked knife and cut it into long, thin strands and tied tightly around the blood sodden material. As he tied the knot, Sam sharply moaned and started to shift.
"Stay still, moving will just make it worse," Dean bluntly stated as he wrapped one more strand around the injured ankle.
"Dea…" Sam grunted through clenched teeth. Whatever numbness that was previously there long left, leaving his ankle ablaze with pain.
He saw dark spots at another sharp twist of pain. "Hurry…up," Sam gasped, his fingernails clenching the dirt beside him.
Out of nowhere Dean appeared in his field of vision…shirtless. Unable to form the words, Sam just stared, puzzled by his brother's apparent lack of clothing.
Dean simply smirked at Sam's expression. "Let's just hope that works, 'cause we are running out of material to use."
Sam looked from his brother's bare chest, to his own, which was covered with his two shirts and two jackets. Surely, Dean could have used one of his extra shirts instead of his own. They both knew he layered his clothing. "I-"
Dean promptly cut him off. "I'm not the one with the broken ankle bleeding all over the place," he calmly stated as if he read Sam's mind.
Too tired to argue, Sam merely sighed and closed his eyes.
"Hey! You need to stay awake," Dean ordered, his voice sounding way too much like his father's.
Sam groaned but made no effort to open his eyes.
"C'mon, talk to me. You always say I never listen to you." Dean was getting desperate. He controlled the bleeding, but now he needed his brother to stay awake. They were stuck underneath the overhang until the rain let up…or their father found them…and he wasn't going to let Sam slip into shock without him knowing.
At least when he was talking, Dean knew he was still alive.
"Abou…what?" Sam muttered, finally opening his eyes.
That stopped Dean right in his tracks. He didn't know what the hell to talk about. He never knew. Sam always seemed to have that area covered. "I…I don't know."
Sam's eyes started to close again.
Seeing Sam start to drift off, Dean began to panic. "College!" he exclaimed, pleased to see his brother's eyes snap back open. "Talk to me about college."
Sam looked at him skeptically for a moment. "Seriously?" For the first time since the reached the overhang, Sam's voice was clear.
Sam rolled his head away from Dean. "You don't care about stuff like that…" he said, his voice getting the same tired edge back.
Dean was almost hurt by Sam's statement…he would have been more hurt if it wasn't so goddamn true.
He couldn't wait for his graduation day. Hell, he was thinking about graduating a semester early just to get the hell out of school. But moving around so much made getting the credits nearly impossible.
He always knew Sammy looked at school differently. Almost as if it was a blessing. A chance to be part of the normal world his family never allowed him to partake in.
But none of that mattered right now. All that mattered was that Sammy was awake and talking.
"It doesn't matter if I don't care about it. You care about it. And you're the one that needs to talk. So go," Dean prompted, almost eager to hear what Sam had to say. Okay, that was a lie. He didn't care what Sammy had to say (and he would never be eager to hear about Sam moving away), he just had to hear Sam's voice.
That was all the encouragement Sam needed. "I…I've been looking at a couple c-colleges. I mean I don't have to be a full-time student. Just maybe t-take a class or two. A lot of colleges offer c-classes online, so I could still hunt with you g-guys," Sam rattled off, rushed, as if he was defending himself for some heinous crime.
"Okay…" Dean replied, thinking it over. It did make him feel a bit better. At least then he could still watch Sam…protect him if something were to happen. Like getting caught in a demonic bear trap.
"I could go to a c-college in Missouri or something. That way I'd be in the middle of the country, and it w-would be easier for me to travel places. Maybe even Kansas, I could probably get a scholarship for b-being born there," Sam continued, no longer paying attention to Dean's reaction.
While he was trying to listen, Dean far too distracted by the fact that Sam's tremors weren't stopping, even though the bleeding was slowing down. Shit.
Not even realizing Dean's attention left his face and was now focused on his leg, Sam plowed on, lost in his own thoughts. "I mean if you guys don't w-want me to go to Kansas, I guess I understand. It b-being Kansas and all. I just think I could save the most money by going there."
All of the sudden, the dull ache his ankle had become skyrocketed to life, leaving him quivering and breathless. "Dean…" he moaned out reaching for the source of the pain.
"Just breathe through it," Dean's voice reached his ears. "We have to elevate your leg to stop the blood flow."
Sam looked down at his brother, who was sitting beside him holding up his injured leg by the knee. "Dean…" he pleaded, blinking the dark spots out of his vision.
"It's okay, Sammy, just keep talking. It will stop hurting eventually," Dean encouraged trying to keep the boy's leg steady.
"I…I…" Sam searched his mind, but he totally forgot what he was talking about.
"College, Sam," Dean prompted, seeing Sam's struggle. "Something about Kansas." He felt slightly bad, he wasn't really listening to Sam before. He was too focused on the pale look in Sam's face and the way he shivered every once in a while.
He would try harder this time. He knew it was important to Sam, the least he could do was give him his attention.
Sam squeezed his eyes close and tried to talk through the pain. "I…I been really l-looking at this c-community college in Wichita, Kansas. It s…seems like a good one."
"Community college?" Dean asked, bewilderment clear in his voice. Thinking about it, he realized most of the college brochures he had found on Sam's desk were for community colleges.
Sam didn't belong in a community college. He was the kid who knew his multiplication tables at the age of six. The kid who had at least a 4.0 at any school he was sent to. If anything Sammy was meant for the Ivy League, not a community college.
"Yeah, they're the b-best deal. I'll be taking the same t-types of classes as any other c-college," Sam replied, even though he sounded like he was trying to convince himself instead of Dean.
"Sam, if you're gonna do this college thing, don't do it half assed." Dean berated, shocked his brother would even consider selling himself short. "You don't belong in some community college. You're too good for them. You belong in some snotty place like Harvard or Yale."
Sam looked at him for a moment, his eyes wide with trust. It was hard to Dean to think it was sixteen-year-old Sam he was talking to and not six-year-old Sammy.
"Even Stanford?" Sammy whispered as if he was telling a secret.
Dean couldn't help but chuckle at the awe apparent in Sam's eyes. Evidently, this 'Stanford' was the Holy Grail for Sam. "Even Stanford," Dean stated, looking Sam straight in the eye. To be honest, Dean had never heard of Stanford before, but as far as he was considered, Sammy could get into any college he wanted.
"Thanks, Dean," Sam smiled, his eyes half-mast.
"No problem, Gimpy."
Sam simply sighed at his new nickname. He didn't care what Dean called him. As long as Dean was there supporting him, he couldn't complain.
Dean looked down at his Sammy, knowing how rarely the kid genuinely smiled. They remained like that for a moment, both lost in their own thoughts of thoughts of the bear trap, their father, and the unknown future.
A stifled yell, snapped them out of their reverie.
"That's Dad," Dean whispered, recognizing the man's voice anywhere. Standing up, he looked back down at Sam. "Stay here."
Sam immediately gave him a look that screamed where the hell would I go…one-legged?
Dean rushed out into the rain, still shirtless, screaming, "Dad! We're here! Over here!"
He did not know what the future held. As long as they lived to see the next day, he was happy.
Author's Note 2: The wonderful nickname was brought on by my dog, Misty, (aka: Gimpy), who, since her surgery, has been walking on three legs but has just started putting weight on the fourth. Every time I saw her sad, little puppy dog face it reminded me I had to finish my story about one-legged Sam. So don't thank me for the update. Thank Gimpy.