Disclaimer: Everything Winchester, Supernatural and Impala related belong to someone else. I'm just doing this for fun.
Beta'd: By Wysawyg who graciously gives her time and talent to offer suggestions and proof-read my stories, taking time away from her own. Thank you!
I played quite a lot after she beta'd so as usual any remaining errors are mine and mine alone.
Thank You: Thanks for your help, Heather, and I promise sometime in the future there'll be a free of charge Dean story for you. (c: And to Carocali for being helpful and supportive - It means a lot!
"Ah, baby," Dean crooned. "You are a sight for sore eyes." He ran his hand affectionately down the roof of the Impala.
Sam snickered and opened the passenger door for Dean. As his brother slipped inside Sam remarked, "Why do I always feel like I'm interrupting a private moment between the two of you?"
He closed the door on Dean's laughing reply, slowly walked around the back side of the Impala and climbed into the driver's seat. "Next stop, Doctor Bailey's," he announced upon starting the engine.
Dean stopped chuckling and glared at Sam, causing the younger brother to chuckle instead. Dust kicked up on the abandoned logging road as the sleek, black car winded down the hill towards town.
Dr. Bailey pushed back his horn-rimmed glasses, searching the cupboard for the spare bottle he knew he'd put here last spring. The contents looked a bit cloudy and he gave it a hard shake to see if the fluid would remix. Squinting through bifocals he read the freshness date and realized it expired nearly eight months ago, but he assumed it would provide relief nonetheless.
He sighed as he thought about his patients in the next room. They had returned early yesterday morning, both bedraggled with Dean leaning heavily on Sam. He had properly chastised the pair and, after allowing brothers to clean up, he had promptly placed Dean back on oxygen, much to Dean's dismay.
It had taken nearly a half an hour to coax the story out of the brothers and even then, he did not believe he had the whole truth. Falling into the river? That, he believed. The bruises were consistent with an unplanned water excursion and he doubted they would have shown up on his doorstep in their skivvies if not for lack of dry clothes.
Dean being strangled by a rope from the bridge in the river? That, he did not believe. The bruising pattern was consistent with fingers, not a rope. He did not think for an instant Sam had attacked his brother which meant they were hiding something.
He had evaluated Dean's condition all the while under the watchful eye of his brother. Dean's kidneys had survived the river trip, but his ribs had not faired quite as well. With Sam's nodding approval, he had administered a strong pain killer. Dean had fallen asleep almost immediately, only staying conscious long enough for a rumbling growl to be directed towards his brother.
Don't mind him, Sam had said. Doctor Bailey remembered he had smiled reassuringly at Sam, but the truth was, he had not really known what to make of the brothers. They seemed very close and yet there was something guarded about both of them. It had taken him well into the next day to discover the reason for the façade was him.
Every two hours he had gone in to check on his patients only to find Sam blinking awake at the squeaking of the door, sitting next to his brother, with his hand resting on Dean's chest. Doctor Bailey had threatened Sam with banishment from the room and he remembered full well the expression on the younger man's face.
It had not been threatening or angry, but the message had been all too clear. Sam was not leaving his brother and nothing the doctor said would change that. He had not tried to lecture Sam about sleep after that, but contented himself on the pockets of sleep his second patient was getting. It had been on his most recent trip into the overnight room that he had discovered Sam had needed his attention as well.
Dr. Bailey sat down on the rolling chair in the exam room and yawned. Exhaustion had settled into his bones from the late night hours: a symptom of his growing age. He had not had this much excitement since Carl Jenkins had chopped his toe off last Christmas splitting wood for the family bonfire.
He yawned again and pushed himself up slowly to a standing position. He knew he would not be able to convince the brothers to stay here much longer. Already they were showing signs of cabin fever. Doctor Bailey reached the door to the overnight room and he could hear annoyed hisses through the door. Hoping to learn more of the truth by stealth, he pressed his ear to the door.
"Dean, stop that," Sam hissed. "It's disgusting."
"So are you," Dean retorted.
"That doesn't even make sense," Sam complained.
"Neither do you," Dean replied.
Dr. Bailey heard a banging thud and Sam's voice grow in volume. "God you are impossible when you've been cooped up too long. We need to get out of here soon before I'm forced to do something I'll regret."
Deciding it was safer to enter now, rather than after Dean had indeed pushed Sam too far, he knocked briskly once and entered. The sight that greeted him brought a chuckle to his lips, quickly squelched by the reproachful look on Sam's face.
Dean was sitting on the bed, propped up against a pillowed headboard, slowly peeling a sheet of translucent, necrotic skin from his arm. Doctor Bailey noticed a few pieces of skin on the floor next to Sam where they had apparently been thrown by one of the two brothers. Dean had stopped midway through the pull when Doctor Bailey had opened the door, but continued on the longer the doctor stood in the doorway. The long section of skin broke loose and Dean leaned over and placed it carefully on Sam's leg while Sam was distracted by the doctor.
Doctor Bailey glanced from one patient, pink from the chest up, to the other, pink mid-thigh down. He had a sudden, overwhelming attack of sympathy for these boys' parents. If they could get themselves into this much trouble now, they must have been a handful as children.
"I found more Calamine lotion," Dr. Bailey announced, handing the bottle to Sam.
"Thanks," Sam replied, giving the bottle a shake.
Doctor Bailey gave Sam an appraising look. "You really did manage to get a nasty case of poison oak," he commented.
"Yeah," Sam replied, scratching a spot on his knee absent-mindedly. His fingers found the sheet of discarded skin, gingerly picked it off and tossed it to the floor. Scowling at Dean, Sam leaned in closer to Doctor Bailey and whispered conspiratorially, "How is he really?"
"He has really good hearing," Dean sniped. He tugged on the nasal canula and frowned. "Is this really necessary?"
"Yes," Sam and Doctor Bailey replied simultaneously.
Dean sighed dramatically and rolled his eyes. "So? What's the verdict, Doc?"
Doctor Bailey looked from one brother to the other. "I'm cutting you loose."
"Really?" Dean asked the surprise evident on his face. "Really?"
"Yes, really," Doctor Bailey replied. He pushed his thick, black-framed glasses further up his nose. At the elated look on one brother's face and the look of trepidation on the other, he continued, "It isn't that I believe you are ready to leave, but I'm ready for you to leave. You're acting like a pair of poorly housebroken pups, circling the carpet to soil it when what you really need to do is go outside."
"I'm sorry, we didn't mean to cause trouble," Sam apologized, his hazel eyes conveying his sincerity. He pointed a pink coated finger at the door. "We can be ready to leave in ten minutes."
Doctor Bailey frowned. Obviously, these boys had seen their fair share of hard knocks to be so quick to leave needed medical care to avoid trouble. "I think you misunderstand me," Doctor Bailey explained. "It's readily apparent you won't stay much longer. I'm simply giving you permission to leave so you don't have to sneak out in the middle of the night."
The sheepish blush on Sam's face and the smirk on Dean's told him his statement rang true. "Uh, thanks," Sam replied finally.
"Not a problem," Doctor Bailey replied with a nod. "I'll get you," he said pointing at Dean. "Some sample painkillers and a final dose of the good stuff. And you," he continued, pointing this time at Sam, "can take that bottle of Calamine with you."
The brothers nodded and Doctor Bailey turned on his heel and left to fetch the promised painkillers. Behind him, he heard the light bickering start once more before he shut the door to silence it.
Sam shut the passenger door for his brother and turned to wave good-bye to Doctor Bailey before walking around the car to the driver's side. He slipped inside, started the car and drove away from the clinic.
The orange sun hung low in the sky, hovering barely over the tops of the surrounding tree-lined mountains. The Impala windows were down on both sides and the cooling dusk breeze whipped through the car.
Dean leaned forward, reaching for the radio and grunted in pain, wrapping his right arm around his torso. Sam slapped his hand away from the dials. "Driver picks the music. Shot gun shuts his cake hole," he said with a grin.
"Sam," Dean growled his name in warning.
"Your rules, Dean," Sam stated. His eyes flicked to his brother before returning to the road and his grin grew until dimples appeared.
"Fine time you picked to start listening to me," Dean grumbled under his breath. He folded his arms over his chest and leaned back against the seat.
"I listen all the time," Sam protested lightly. Dean glanced at him with disbelieving eyes and Sam shook his head at his grumpy brother. After a few minutes Sam spoke again, breaking the easy silence, "I think we should stay in Portland tonight."
"Planning on spending another five hours at Powell's?" Dean asked, rolling his window up to mid-way and shivering once.
"No," Sam protested. An hour maybe, he thought. "It's a good stopping point. There are several directions to head from there." Portland would be a good stopping point so Dean could rest without overdoing it the first day. Sam knew first hand how uncomfortable sitting in the car for hours with busted ribs could be.
"Sounds good," Dean replied. He looked out the window at the scenery as the road meandered through pasture land following the course of the deceptively calm river. "Are you sure the spirits moved on?" he asked in an abrupt change of topic.
"Yeah, I'm sure," Sam replied. "I saw the dragonflies following the river. They moved on."
"Dragonflies?" Dean asked, furrowing his brow and turning towards Sam.
"Dragonflies were an animal totem that some Native American cultures viewed as spirits on flight to the afterlife," Sam explained, tapping the breaks lightly to avoid hitting a jack rabbit bounding across the highway.
Dean's lips lifted into a lopsided grin. "You're a great sidekick, Geek boy," he stated, turning back towards the window.
"Sidekick?" Sam asked. "The comic relief guy is the sidekick. That definitely describes you, not me," Sam joked, hoping the easy banter would infuse normalcy back into their lives.
"Well, it's true you don't have a sense of humor," Dean replied. "But the role of hero is always played by the best looking guy and that's me."
"I don't think you meet the height requirements," Sam shot back. "Shorty."
"I'm six-one," Dean argued.
"Yeah, you're short," Sam agreed with a grin.
Sam chalked up a win and the brothers fell into a comfortable silence. It stretched and lengthened until Sam noticed Dean appeared to be lost in thought. The melancholy expression his brother wore in direct contrast with his normal devil-may-care countenance.
"Hey Dean?" Sam asked, not taking his eyes from the road.
"Yeah?" Dean asked. He sounded tired and his speech slurred a bit from the medication as it finally kicked in.
"You're going to be okay," Sam stated, tearing his gaze from the twisting highway to his brother. "We both are." He turned back to the road and continued with a change of subject hoping to steer Dean back into calmer waters, "I did a little research before we left and there's possible demon activity in Mott, North Dakota." A good hunt always seemed to cheer his brother up.
When Dean did respond, Sam shot him a quick glance thinking his brother had finally succumbed to sleep. But Dean was not sleeping; he sat slouched in the passenger seat, arms wrapped around his torso, gaze averted.
"Dean," Sam interrupted. "Look, I think you're looking for something I can't give you. The truth is I won't be okay unless you are. So, you have to promise me something." Sam paused until Dean nodded. "You have to promise you're going to take care of yourself. Give me this year to figure things out."
Dean huffed lightly. "You've always been pushy," he muttered. "And such a girl," he finished with a smirk, elbowing Sam in the ribs.
Sam rolled his eyes, but he couldn't stop a grin from escaping. "Get some sleep," he said.
"When're we stopping for dinner?" Dean asked, ignoring Sam's command. "I'm starving."
"We should be in civilization within a couple of hours," Sam stated.
"A couple of hours?" Dean complained. "Just pull over and let me drive."
"Nope," Sam disagreed, flipping on the radio. He cruised through the stations quickly, but all he found was soft rock. It was better than nothing. "You're not driving."
Celine Dion's sultry tones filtered through the Impala's speakers. "Ah, hell no," Dean remarked, reaching for the dial again.
Sam slapped his hand away again. "And we've been over that already." Sam suppressed a grin, inwardly amused by Dean's displeasure over the lack of acceptable musical choices. He toyed with the idea of putting them both out of their misery by pulling out the box of cassettes under the passenger seat, but he decided distracting Dean from his current frame of mind was worth the price of Celine.
Dean folded his arms across his chest. "Whatever, Sam. I changed my mind. Wake me up when we stop for dinner." With that proclamation, he leaned back in the seat and closed his eyes. Within minutes, his arms dropped from the protective position around his ribs to his sides as he fell asleep along the winding highway.
Sam turned down the soft music allowing it to play quietly in the background. The wind still whistled through Dean's partially open window and the tires hummed on the asphalt, creating the perfect environment for Dean to sleep. Sam thought to the year ahead and while it promised the danger of demon hunts, the road he and Dean traveled - they traveled together.
AN: Yes, I wrote another fic that is set in my home state. But really, when you live out West there's no shortage of haunted places to explore. Waldo is real. It was founded in 1854 by William Waldo. In the 1890's there were 30,000 people in Waldo. Not only did the railways bypass poor Waldo, but the two major highways of the time did as well (and still do for that matter). It went from thriving metropolis, to small town, to a general store/post office, to what it is today…two graveyards in the middle of nowhere…literally.
Thanks to all who have been reading! It was a fun ride!
The Story Behind the Story
If you should find yourself in Southern Oregon with a hankering to visit the ghost town of Waldo, here's my advice. Drive to Cave Junction and find a local who knows:
a). What you are talking about and…
b). Where Waldo was located.
Because speaking from personal experience, the on-line directions bite rocks.
I had an idea of what I wanted to write, but I wanted to go out to Waldo to see the area first-hand, sort of pick up on the atmosphere and look around the old town site. When I told my husband where I wanted to go and why he said, "Sounds like a blast, let's all go."
So, charcoal sticks and paper in hand, we loaded into my husband's soccer mom mini-van and headed to Waldo. An hour and a half later, we pulled off the main highway onto Waldo Road. According to our directions, the town had stood three miles down the road. The directions did not say whether it was on the right or the left side, but I expected a wide open area with a visible cemetery. I was wrong.
At mile marker three, there was an old stone marker on the left at the bottom of a hill with the plaque missing. There obviously had never had a road up the hill, so we assumed that was not the correct place. We drove a little further and when we reached mile marker four we turned around and went back.
When we reached the stone marker again, there was a small truck parked there and an elderly couple was picking their way up the hill. Deciding we had been mistaken about Waldo's location, we followed.
The non-existent trail took us through swee'pea, manzanita bushes (I got my hair stuck as we crawled THROUGH one bush) and ferns. When we reached the top of the hill, the couple was coming back up from a lower spot on the hill.
My son asked, "Is this Waldo?"
"Waldo?" Jean (name changed) asked. "No, sweetie, that's on the other side of the road."
We thanked the couple and turned to leave when Bill (name changed) said, "You'll never find it if you've never been there before."
"Can you give us directions?" I asked.
"Nah, it's a little complicated. We'll just show you the way," Bill replied.
My husband thanked Bill and Jean and then we headed down the hill. Jean left us in the dust (we found out later she is 72. Ouch). I stayed behind with Bill (affectionately dubbed, 'Pokey' by his wife) and talked about Waldo.
He told me the Protestant cemetery was on this side of the hill, the Catholic on the other side and the Chinese cemetery in the middle. He also informed me the Chinese cemetery no longer existed. By request of the Chinese government, the bodies had been exhumed, the tombstones removed and the entire lot sent back to China in the early 1900's. All that remained were mounds of dirt.
We all piled into our respective vehicles and Jean and Bill led the way. We turned off onto a gravel, pot-holed road and it became evident very quickly that my husband's van could go no further. Bill suggested we climb into the back of their rig, so we did and drove another mile down the bumpy road.
We parked at the foot of a steep, rutted dirt road and started walking. Once again Jean shot out ahead, my husband and son trying vainly to keep up and I talked to Bill. Part way up the hill he stopped, turned to me and said, "You know, we're just teasing you. There's no cemetery up this hill…yet."
We emerged at the top of the hill amidst old-growth pine and cedar trees. Nestled in the shade of these sleeping giants were gray stone markers at the head of sunken graves. There was a children's section, a few family plots and many, many unmarked graves where time and weather had worn away all signs minus the sunken ground.
I took a few rubbings, wrote down some thoughts and grave names/dates before we headed back down the hill. Jean and Bill were going to show us the way to the Catholic cemetery. After walking down the hill, loading back into their truck, then back into our van, we drove all the way around the hill to the other side.
We pulled into a grassy flat area clearly marked by signs that read: "Private Property. Keep Out." What you need to understand is in rural Oregon that is a sign to be taken seriously. People come out, rifles in hand, when you trespass. And…Cave Junction is replete with naturalistic, free-spirits some of whom grow their own crops of happy grass.
Bill and Jean assured us it would be okay and if one of the property owners approached us, we would just tell them we were on the way to the cemetery and they'd let us pass. With that joyous thought in mind we proceeded to trudge two miles into the woods. We walked through a dry mining creek, past an odd stone shrine with wind-chimes, dream catchers and statues and over the Illinois River on a foot suspension bridge (metal, not rope).
My son, knowing how much I hate heights, waited until I was mid-point on the swaying bridge and then jumped up and down several times on it, causing it to rock ferociously. "Keep that up and you'll be swimming," I hissed. He laughed, but he did stop (lucky for him).
The Catholic cemetery is maintained better so the graves were not sunken, but only two headstones remained. The rest were marked by generic white crosses and the entire graveyard was surrounded by a wrought-iron fence. If you search the tall grass carefully, you can find stained glass pieces of windows from the old church.
The feeling was surreal, being out in the middle of nowhere and knowing you were standing where a bustling town once stood. Incidentally, I never could tell where the actual town of Waldo stood. Wherever it was, Mother Nature had reclaimed the land, but it got my twisted mind to thinking and that's how this story was born. A far cry from my original thought, 'Dean falls in a well.' LOL.
It also helped feed Heather's requests for her graduation story: Hurt!Dean, a hug or a snuggle, angst (my dreaded foe) and if I could figure out how to get them wet or CPR then that would be great. So, there you have it - the story behind the story.
Oh and my husband totally scored. He convinced me this proved we needed a four wheel drive vehicle so now he has a 4X4, Ford 150 truck to accompany his soccer mom van. (c:
Thanks again for reading!