Disclaimer: Eye don't own Supernatural, nor dew eye profit from this inn any weigh, sew their! (Ouch, I hurt me).
Thank You: To Wysawyg for being the best beta a girl could hope for. Truly, thanks.
Dedication: To Heather03nmg for passing her nursing exams! Congratulations and happy graduation day on Monday!
The wind blew gently through the large, old-growth trees and above, the full moon shone brightly through the dense foliage. Dean hunkered down in the underbrush and scanned the area, keeping his rifle at the ready. He and Sam had followed the clues to the werewolves' whereabouts and they had ended here, in the middle of an ancient forest in the foothills of southern Oregon. They had passed through a small town, turned onto a country road for endless miles and then an old, gravel, abandoned forest road for ten more miles. They were truly in the middle of nowhere and Dean was certain the Impala was angry with him for the pot-holed trip she'd been forced to endure.
Despite the near ninety degree weather of the early June afternoon the temperature had steadily plummeted when the sun dipped below the horizon. Dean estimated it was no more than fifty degrees now and the temperature was still dropping. He ignored the slight chill that ran under his coat and up his spine. The werewolves were in the area and he needed to be on the alert.
Sam had circled around the northern direction and he was headed around to the south. They knew there were at least two werewolves in the pack, but there existed a possibility of one to four more. When he spotted the werewolf through the trees, Dean raised his rifle and fired.
The shot rang true and the large beast fell to the ground with a crashing thud. Dean warily approached the morphing werewolf. He was relatively sure he had mortally wounded the creature, but cautiousness was more than just prudent while hunting, it kept you alive. He looked down at the wolf that was quickly changing back into a dark-haired man, scratch that, boy. He was no older than eighteen. Dean instantly renewed his vigilance and surveyed the landscape. That left at least two remaining werewolves.
The smell of wet dog coupled with dead rabbit reached Dean's nose on the gentle breeze. He whipped the barrel of the rifle upwind. The forest was quiet save for the occasional rustling of leaves and the chirping of crickets. Dean picked up the distant sound of crashing underbrush and saw the dark shape of the second werewolf dashing between the trees. Without hesitation, he gave chase.
He followed it through the thick woods, but stopped at the edge of a clearing. The werewolf raised its snout in the air and sniffed. It snapped its head in Dean's direction, the light of the moon reflecting in the glowing eyes and then it took off running in the opposite direction.
Cursing under his breath, Dean pursued the lycanthrope at top speed, but still lost ground. He found himself on the other side of the clearing trying to catch sight of the elusive creature. Dingy fur and sharp teeth suddenly appeared directly in front of him, as the werewolf swung down from a low branch of the nearby tree. The claws of its hind-legs raked his chest when it kicked him backwards before dropping to the ground.
Dean fell, but managed to maintain his grip on the rifle when he hit a pile of wood debris and stones with a solid thud. He aimed his gun at the werewolf and his finger tightened on the trigger even as the werewolf snarled at Dean and sprang towards him. He fired.
"Son of a…" Dean swore as the recoil jostled sore muscles. He never saw if the bullet found its mark because the ground beneath him gave way in a rumble of tumbling stones and cracking wood. He fell in slow motion as rocks, debris and even himself bounced off and collided with each other and the sides of the hole. He fell as the moon moved further away in the sky and his body impacted with the ground below before the stars flicked out.
Sam crouched next to the body of the dead werewolf taking in the appearance of the young woman before him as it changed back into a human being. His mind moved to Madison, but didn't linger there long. He needed to keep his thoughts focused on the hunt and verify Dean was successful before allowing himself the luxury of introspection.
The breeze that had been blowing gently all evening grew in intensity as the night wore on. It was a cold wind that ran down the collar of Sam's jacket and into his bones. He ignored the snap in the air, numbing his fingers and instead focused his concentration on the task at hand. The forest surrounding him was still and silent. Sam eyed the woods carefully looking for any indication of more werewolves or of his brother.
There was no movement in the area, no sound reaching his ears and Sam was aware of just how wrong that was. He moved stealthily through the trees, keeping the barrel of his rifle at the ready as he worked his way back towards Dean. The stars sparkled brightly in the cold sky and the moon shone through the patches of leaves in the trees. He could see well enough to walk without a flashlight so he chose to keep his turned off. There was no reason to give the werewolf more advantage than it already had.
Sam caught the silvery light of moonbeams bouncing off an object on the ground in the distance. He quickened his pace and the object on the ground became the white flesh of a dead, teenage boy. He crouched down next to the body and examined the bullet hole. It was a clean shot to the heart and Sam knew it was one of the werewolves. Dean had been here.
Wiping his hand on his pants, Sam stood up and looked around for signs of where Dean had gone from here, though he did not really expect to find anything. Dean could cover his tracks without even giving it a conscious thought. As Sam suspected the forest kept her secrets and the location of Dean remained a mystery. Sam knew the body on the pine-needle floor meant one more werewolf must still be in the area. He may not be able to track Dean, but he could track the other wolf.
The woods filled with the sounds of crickets chirping and the gentle rustle of leaves. It took Sam a moment to realize the world had gone from a black and white silent movie back to Technicolor surround sound. A change in the environment of that magnitude could only mean one thing, a predator of some type had moved out of the area. He knew he could not let his guard down because the werewolf could still be around, but the signs were not good. Dean would have moved out with the werewolf, so that left that much more ground to cover. Sam lifted his rifle to the ready position and headed out to look for the werewolf's trail.
Dean felt hard pebbles under his back and digging into the back of his head. Damn, that meant he hadn't made it back to a motel room. His head hummed at a frequency so high he figured every dog in the nearby vicinity would home in on him at any moment. Dean wondered briefly if they had gotten his money or if he had simply pissed them off and they had beaten him and left him here. It did not matter because either way, he needed to pick himself up and head back to the motel before Sam came looking for him. If his little brother knew he had managed to get the stuffing knocked out of him there'd be no end to the lectures or the mother hen routine.
The last time Dean had returned from a bar with a swollen lip and bloody knuckles Sam had discussed Dean's behavior and the likelihood it had contributed to his current appearance ad nauseam.
"You've been out hustling pool without back up again, haven't you?" Sam asked when he opened the door.
"We needed the money, Sam. You know we can't keep using the bogus cards with the Feds breathing down our necks right now," Dean replied, shouldering his way past Sam and into the motel room.
"I would have gone with you," Sam said, walking to the bathroom to fetch the first aid kit.
"I didn't want you to," Dean replied, flopping into a lumpy, upholstered chair.
"What kind of bar did you go to?" Sam asked, his voice filtering in to Dean from the bathroom.
"The kind that would have had me defending your honor instead of my cash," Dean answered with a smirk as Sam reappeared.
"Nice, can you be serious for two minutes?" Sam snapped, pulling up a hard back chair in front of Dean.
He eyed Sam warily as he pulled out a gauze pad, doused it with liquid and pressed it to Dean's forehead. "Ouch!" he protested, pushing Sam's hand away. "I was being serious. What do you have in that thing?"
"It's just peroxide," Sam insisted pressing it to the cut again. "Stop being a baby. It won't work anyway. What bar?"
"It wasn't so much a bar as it was a kind of club," Dean admitted.
Sam's eyes narrowed suspiciously and he sighed, "Dean, don't you think the job itself is dangerous enough?"
Dean didn't have a response that Sam would find reasonable, so he simply frowned at Sam and let him finish his ministrations and ranting.
Dean was pulled from his memories by an increase in the intensity of the fizzy-popping noise in his head. He furrowed his brow in pain. White light flared behind his eyelids and he groaned as the buzzing and the light merged and expanded until it blocked out all thought and the darkness came once more.
Sam followed the trail of the werewolf until it ended at the edge of a clearing. He passed through the clearing twice looking for signs of where the werewolf had re-entered the woods, but to no avail. The trail was cold. Sam wanted to call out for Dean, he had a feeling his brother was close by still hunting the werewolf, but he didn't want to risk giving away Dean's, or his own, location to the vicious lupine.
According to his watch there were only two more hours before dawn. Sam worried he would not be able to connect with Dean before daybreak and the only place Sam could be certain Dean would eventually turn up was the Impala. His decision made, he headed back to the waiting car on Waldo Road. Sam tried to keep his attention on the sights and sounds around him, but a portion of his brain could not help but dwell on his brother. Trouble had a way of finding Dean.
Sam paced the confines of the motel room in tight lines. He had finished his homework hours ago; Dean and Dad should have been back already. He flicked on the television and flung himself into the motel's only chair. He jiggled his leg and tapped his thumb on the armrest, while attempting to distract himself with the mindless drivel on the set. Turning off the television and standing up, Sam threw the remote into the recently vacated chair and started pacing again in earnest.
He could not wait until he was eighteen like Dean so his dad and his brother would stop treating him like a child. He was not sure he was ready to hunt, but he was ready to stop being left behind. They had only left Austin a week ago and already his father had found a new hunt – a possible chupacabra sighting in New Mexico.
Sam started his third lap around the small room when the door burst open and his absent family members stumbled in, the younger supported by the elder.
"Dean!" Sam exclaimed, moving to intercept with his brother.
"Move out of the way, Sammy," John commanded, manhandling Dean to the bed. "Grab the first aid kit."
"Dad, what happened?" Sam asked, grabbing the kit and taking his place at Dean's side.
"Wild dogs," John replied simply. "We almost didn't make it back to the car."
Sam watched as John cut away Dean's jeans from the cuff to his knee. Bite marks left streaks of red on Dean's leg. "It looks like Dean didn't," Sam replied. He had not meant to sound accusatory, but it came out that way even to his own ears.
"He'll be fine," John said in a clipped tone. Turning his attention to Dean he asked, "Won't you son?"
"I'm okay, Sammy," Dean replied, directing his tight response to his anxious little brother.
"Sam, hand me the peroxide," John barked, holding out one hand for the peroxide while the other held a sterile gauze pad to Dean's leg.
"What about diseases – like rabies?" Sam asked, the worry in his chest creeping out through his throat. "We don't have anything for stuff like that."
"One step at a time, Sammy," John replied. "One step at a time."
Sam arrived at the Impala with the strange feeling of being unable to recall exactly how he had managed to get there. Great Sam, way to pay attention, he silently chided himself. He rested the rifle carefully along the side of the car and fished in his pocket for the lock pick set. Dean would be angry if he knew Sam was picking the lock, but then Dean should not have taken the keys with him as usual. The sound of a twig breaking behind him had Sam whirling around.
A flash of brown appeared in his vision, the only warning before a giant weight connected with his chest. The back of his head connected with the Impala and Sam felt an odd sense of relief at hitting the metal frame rather than the window. He did not want to be the one that told Dean the window was broken on the car – again.
One hand grabbed for the rifle while the other hand rose in a feeble attempt to stave off the next attack. The next hit came at him from the side and caused him to stumble to the right. He lost his footing on the rough gravel and fell to the ground. His fingers found the rifle butt on the way down and when his back hit the gravel, he rolled in one motion to a crouching position, braced the weapon with his shoulder and fired.
When Dean awoke for the second time, he was able to crack his eyes open to peer into the darkness. Stars above his head told him he was outside. Why was he outside? Dean's head pounded and he moved his hand to the back of his head. It came away sticky and he groaned. The stars glittered and blurred and Dean wondered why they danced in erratic patterns and the ground shivered in response. He realized belatedly that it was he, who shivered and the even longer before he put together the clues to his probable concussion.
Images came unbidden of a hunt for the werewolves: Research at the rundown motel, leading them to the hunting grounds of the werewolf pack; he and Sam splitting up to search for the werewolves; chasing one through the trees and then - falling. Sam was still out there, hunting a pack of werewolves by himself and no doubt searching for him. "Sam!" Dean called out weakly without thinking. There was no response, but Dean was not expecting one. He knew Sam would not have left him bleeding at the bottom of a hole if he was nearby.
Unfortunately, that meant he had to find a way out of here. The fact that Sam had not found him when he had obviously been here long enough to bleed a fair puddle on the rocks beneath him had to mean something was wrong. Dean attempted to roll to his side and his back screamed in protest. Without warning the contents of his stomach made an unexpected and forceful exit out of his body. He retched several times and when he was done, he blew his nose to remove any vomit that had lodged in the alternate route. He lay there panting with his eyes scrunched closed trying to catch his breath, but his lungs refused to cooperate. The stabbing pain in his lower back that he had not noticed while lying supine joined in the chorus.
His breathing finally under control, Dean opened his eyes and surveyed his surroundings from his new perspective. Rocks littered the ground and he could see clearly that the hole he had fallen in was no more than six feet in diameter which explained why he had been lying in such an odd position earlier. Dean wanted to squirm away from the strong smelling sick puddle only inches from him, but he lacked the strength at the moment. The one thing Dean had not anticipated was the man sitting on the opposite side, his leg bent awkwardly beside him and his skin pale.
The man turned to look at Dean with glassy, unfocused eyes. "They put us here," he whispered. "They put us here, but they'll be back."
"Who?" Dean asked, shifting slightly. He regretted his actions as shoots of sharp pain moved up his legs, along his spine and into his head. "The werewolves?"
"Yeah, they put us here," the man repeated, turning away from Dean and leaning back against the wall.
Dean took in the man's odd appearance. The worn overalls and scuffed boots hinted at farming or ranching. "Have you seen anyone else?" Dean questioned him. He doubted this man had seen Sam, but he had to know for sure.
Dean thought at first that perhaps the man had not heard him or that he had passed out, but instead he seemed to be sleeping. "Hey, hey!" Dean called, hoping to wake him up. When he saw the man's eyes flutter open he continued, "My name's Dean, what's yours?"
"Not that it matters because we won't be making it out of here alive, but my name's Gibbs, William Gibbs," William replied, still not looking at Dean. His face contorted in pain and he moaned.
"We are going to make it out of here alive. Do you hear me?" Dean asked. His question was met with only silence and Dean could feel the tug of unconsciousness pulling at him once more. He blinked hard against the burn in his eyes and fought back another wave of nausea. "William, we are going to be okay. I have to get out of here and then we'll find my brother."
William turned sad eyes to Dean. "I'm sorry I have to be the one to tell you," he stated. "They got him."
"Got who? Sam?" Dean demanded. No way did this man know who Sam was.
Gibbs nodded slowly. "They hurt him. He was bleedin' and yellin' as they ripped him open." Gibbs leaned his head back and gave all appearances of sleep once more.
Dean's mind whirled. He couldn't know who Sam was. Dean had not described him or given any indication that would help the man link Sam to him. Although in truth, there could not be that many people wandering about in these woods. The longer Dean's muddled mind dwelt on that fact, the stronger his conviction that Gibbs actually did know who Sam was. "How, how do you know he was my brother?" Dean asked quietly and brokenly.
Gibbs did not open his eyes or turn his head towards Dean. "I wouldn't have at all, 'cept he was callin' for you."
Dean's heart sank into his stomach. He refused to believe Sam was dead. He was hurt, he needed Dean to climb out of this hole and help him, but he was not dead. Dean struggled to stand, but a lack of strength coupled with uncooperative limbs conspired against him. He flopped back onto the ground and fisted loose dirt in his hands. He tossed the dirt impotently across to the other side of the hole and braced himself against renewed flares of pain. Dean fought against the hopelessness threatening to consume him and the waves of panic clawing at his brain. His head swam with dizziness and this time he allowed himself to sink into blissful unconsciousness.
AN: I recently flew to MN to visit my family and hit extremely hard turbulence flying over the mountains into Las Vegas. It was bumpy enough that my bottom lifted at least two inches off the seat, despite the seatbelt. I heard very clearly (and in their voices):
"Planes crash, Sam."
"And apparently clowns kill."
I chuckled softly to myself earning strange looks from my fellow passengers who no doubt thought I was going over the deep end. Ah well, what's a gal to do?
So…I figured I'd share my little story with a group of peeps most likely to understand. Aren't you the lucky ones? BG.