Title: Of Alligators and Sewers
Author: Black WingedBird
Standard Dis, mild languge
Author's Notes: This was written for Tonya (Wolfpup) as a birthday fic. She requested a hurt!Dean fic- something I've never done before (at least not without hurting Sam MORE). This is my take on a classic, Supernatural Style. Enjoy.
"Dude. It so reeks down here."
"We're in the sewer, Dean."
Dean's left foot splashed into a deep puddle and his shoe filled with cold, stinking water. He cursed, held the shotgun out for balance, and hopped on one foot as he tried to shake off the water. "Oh gross- man…"
"Knock it off. It'll hear us." Sam's sharp retort echoed through the dark tunnel.
"You knock it off," Dean shot back as he limped along, falling back into position behind Sam. They each carried a shotgun loaded with real shells, plus Sam had the bag of bait, ammo, salt and gas slung over his shoulder like a tall, gangly pack mule. The flashlights shone brightly in the darkness, reflecting off the slick stone walls as they darted from crack to crevice. The smell turned Dean's stomach and he forced himself to breathe through his mouth. The ceiling arched overhead, only a couple feet from his head- only inches from Sam's. This was prime territory for rats, and Dean patted the butt of the shotgun, drawing comfort from its solidness. "This has got to be the worst gig we've ever taken. I mean, I know I said I was bored, but this? Come on…"
"Look," Sam said, his flashlight falling steady on an opening up ahead. He jabbed the air with his own shotgun. "According to the blueprints, these tunnels all connect up ahead. The water will be deeper there. More… inhabitable."
"Bobby said we're wasting our time," Dean argued.
"Well something is taking the dogs and cats. I'm not waiting for a child to be next."
Relenting to his brother's inner hero, Dean sighed and ducked a glob of brown goo, trying not to think about what it could be. Sam had been leading them on this entire expedition, ever the copilot. "You're pretty familiar with sewers."
"And you're familiar with gutters."
"Nothing. Come on."
Dean narrowed his eyes at Sam's back. "Doesn't this bother you? You do realize we're wading through sludge right now, right? Human waste?" He tightened his grip on the shotgun when he saw a rat-sized shadow on the other side of the tunnel.
"Do you want to catch this thing or not?"
"Then shut up."
Dean glared. "You are such a killjoy." He looked around again, then added quietly, "You know, if there were any joy down here to start with."
They came to a stop at the edge of the walkway. Below them, a pool of stagnant, frothy water reflected the flashlight beams dully. A putrid stench roiled up, clogging his lungs. Dean turned away and coughed into his fist, the flashlight's orb a brilliant strobe in the darkness. He glanced at Sam, who regarded him with a wince that betrayed his disdain.
"What?" Dean choked. "The smell doesn't bother you?"
"Look at who I keep for company."
Dean shoved Sam.
Sam caught his balance on the edge of the drop off. The bag fell from Sam's shoulder and he caught it with a straight face, like he meant to do it. "You push me in there and the vinyl in your car is gonna reek for months."
Taking the bag from Sam, Dean said, "Aw, you're a big boy. I'm sure you can find your way back to the motel alone."
Under the breath: "Jerk."
Dean unzipped the bag. "Heard that. Bitch."
"Can we just do this, please?"
"You know, kids today need to learn about responsibility. If some little punk hadn't flushed this thing, I could be relaxing with a beer, watching 'I Love New York' right now." Dean pulled the paper bag from the backpack and shook it to unroll the top. He reached inside and pulled out two large steaks, raw and glistening. "Have I ever told you how much I love our job?" he grinned.
Sam looked around, his flashlight skimming the water's surface. "Here's to hoping that it's hungry."
Tying the 130 pound test fishing line through the steaks, Dean snorted. "Oh, I don't know. The décor down here kinda grows on you. We've paid money to stay in shittier joints than this. Hey- I could use some light here."
Sam aimed the flashlight on the steaks and shifted his grip on the shotgun. "You do realize we're going to have to pull this thing out of the water to burn it, right?"
Dean straightened, dangling the steaks and smiled as they twirled. He turned to Sam and patted his shoulder. "Why do you think you're here? You got your waders on under your jeans, right?"
Sam rolled his eyes and raised the shotgun, aiming at the water. "Go fish."
"We really need to work on your sense of humor, little brother."
Dean turned cockeyed from the ledge, swung the steaks around and around to gain momentum, then let out the length on the upswing. The hunks of meat arched through the air, spotlighted by Sam's flashlight, and plunked through the water's crust with a small splash. Sam tossed the flashlight to Dean and sighted down the shotgun.
With one hand Dean tugged on the string, the other held the flashlight. "Just like the good old days, eh Sammy?"
"You've never fished before in your life."
"Yes I did," Dean argued, flicking his wrist as he slowly drew in the line. "That summer when we lived in Ohio. I was fourteen. We spent the whole day at the lake."
Sam glanced at him, his aim never wavering. "That girl was there. What was her name? Melissa?"
"Sweet Melissa. Brown hair that turned red in the sun, blue eyes, freckles… everywhere…"
"Yeah, you left me with a stick, fifteen feet of fishing line, and a cup of worms. You didn't fish. I did."
Still smiling, Dean shook his head. He'd done a little fishing, alright. "Well you should be a pro at this, then. Here, you want the honors? You wanna show me what a champion fisherman you are thanks to me?"
"Didn't think so."
Dean pulled up the beef. Water ran from it, the sound of splashing echoing against the walls and ceiling. He inspected the hunks, dangling them in front of his face, watching as they twirled- whole and un-nibbled. He looked at Sam. "Maybe he's in the mood for chicken."
"And dogs, cats, and who knows what else. Recast."
Dean angled his body and built up momentum before releasing the line. Again, the hunks of meat plunked into the water and Dean fed out the line as they sank. Sam stood solidly at his side, at the ready as Dean blew out a sigh. "You got the right sewer, right? I mean, we're not on the east side of town while he's on the west or anything."
"Of course I did."
"Because I'd hate to be wasting my time down here. I'm not wading around in this sludge with a pound of raw beef on a string just because I like inhaling the fumes."
Sam jerked. "I know what the problem is."
"All your bitching is scaring it off."
Walked right into that one, idiot. "I'm not bitching. I'm bored. Fishing is boring, that's why normal people don't do it."
"Maybe you should start barking. Pretend you're a plump little puppy who fell down the gutter. Oh, and you also have a broken leg."
"Dude, you start-"
The fishing line jerked hard, pulling Dean face-first into the slimy water before he could shut his mouth. He broke the surface with a crack, flailing in surprise, and dropped the light and the string as he clawed his way to the surface. The water was cold and thick and tasted like the worst-smelling gas station bathroom he'd ever been in. He stood and began spitting as soon as his head broke the surface.
Dean scrubbed at his face, coughing and hacking into the chest-level water. He blinked against the darkness, whipping around in the direction of Sam's voice. "Son of a bitch!"
"Dean, don't move! Be quiet."
"I can't even see the flashlight through this shit-"
Bright white light blinded him and Dean raised a hand to shield his face. Sam said, "Sorry. Stay there."
Dean felt the cold stare of Sam's shotgun as water dripped from his sleeve. He blinked away the green spots and asked, "See it?"
"Well I'm not gonna stand here in this." Dean started walking, feeling along the floor with his toes as he pushed through the sludge. "I'm never gonna be able to stop reeking. I think I lost my-"
A hiss slashed the air as a wall of white, pointed teeth exploded from the water to his left. Wide open jaws lunged at him, falling, a swirl of ivory, thick pink tongue and frothy water. Dean jumped back as Sam's shotgun boomed. The jaws snapped shut, spraying water, and two glowing green bubble-eyes stared at him above the water's surface.
"Holy fuck!" Dean shouted, scrambling backwards as the alligator surged forward.
"Dean, get out of there!"
The jaws opened again and a deep-throated hiss underscored the splashing water.
The shotgun fired again but the jaws remained open, rushing, falling as the alligator lunged. The water was thick and the floor slimy and Dean couldn't get out of the way fast enough. Pain seared his forearm, rows of teeth puncturing his skin like bullets. Jaws locked tight, the alligator jerked Dean off his feet and underwater.
They rolled. Dean flailed with his free arm, groping for a hold, his fingertips scraping against thick, wrinkled leather, then slimy concrete, then nothing but churning water. The blackness confused him, made it impossible to tell up from down. The jaws remained tight, the permanent feeling of his arm stuck in a car door- but with bone-scraping teeth. The alligator thrashed, jerking Dean back and forth, and with an internal pop and a flare of pain, his shoulder was torn out of joint. Fire seared his nerves as muscle and skin was torn and shredded.
He could hear the muted booms of Sam's shotgun but still the animal attacked, unfazed. Dazed by pain and unbalance, Dean fought to remain conscious. The movement paused and they floated weightlessly, each gathering strength before another round. Waving his other hand as a feeler, Dean found the floor and righted himself, pushing against it with all his strength. He broke the surface in a ragged gasp, sucking in both air and water and grateful for the chance to be doing so.
He got one lungful before the alligator thrashed again, plunging Dean again into the water, helpless to do anything but claw with one arm. His fingertips scraped against stone and Dean realized they were next to the wall. His brain screamed- get away!- and he grappled with the wall, finding a hold and dragging them against it.
The alligator, responding to his victim's flare of life, thrashed side to side- and immediately cracked his skull against the wall.
The pressure lifted and Dean recoiled, holding his injured arm tightly against his ribs. He broke the water's surface with a gasp, flinching as the shotgun fired behind him. Spotlighted by Sam's flashlight, the floating mass before him rocked with the current.
It didn't move. Stretched out and limp in death, the alligator had to be at least eight feet in length and probably weighed more than Dean. Ridges of horny plates decorated the animal's back, running the length of its body from eyes to tail. A pinkish membrane covered the animal's eyes. Blood seeped from dark, pocked leather.
A loud splash, then: "You okay?" Sam called from behind a bobbing orb of light.
Suddenly aware of his body's complaints, Dean swallowed and nodded. His shoulder burned, his forearm throbbed hotly and his fingers refused to work for the agony coursing through him. "Yeah. Fine," he lied. "You?"
"Took five shots to kill it," Sam replied, splashing closer, out of breath when he stopped next to Dean. "I was starting to wish for a plan B."
"I almost had him in a headlock," Dean said, listing to the side as dizziness cottoned his brain. Sam caught him, steady hands on Dean's shoulders as he added, "He was about to tap out."
"He was about to tear you apart," Sam argued, fear still coloring his voice. The flashlight sparkled on the water's tiny crests. "I couldn't get a good shot. Come on."
"At least I would've given him indigestion," Dean replied, trying to keep his feet under him as Sam dragged them. "Not that this place could reek any worse."
Sam propped him against the wall before climbing out. Dean blinked against the splashing water, then clenched his jaw as he was hugged high around the ribs and hauled up and out of the sludge. Water sloughed into a puddle around him on the slimy concrete. Dean breathed hard through his nose, biting back a whimper as he looked down.
Torn and mangled flesh just barely covered his forearm. It looked decayed, but the pain and blood throbbed relentlessly- a sign that yes, he was still alive thank you. This would be no simple patch job in the motel bathroom. This time, he had been fucked up good.
"Shit," Sam breathed. "We gotta get you to a hospital."
A deep breath of fowl air amplified his anger at the animal. "Before we burn it, I'm skinning it. I am so making boots out of that thing."
"It's dead. You need a hospital, then I'll come back and finish."
"We'll do it now," Dean panted, struggling to stand with one arm. "I want to watch the son of a bitch burn."
"Cowboy up, Sam. Lasso that oversized wallet and light him up." He leaned heavily against the wall, letting the order hang.
"Fine," Sam relented at last, peeling off his outer shirt. The flashlight streaked the ceiling in wild patterns. "Give me your arm."
Dean looked away, anticipating the hurt as Sam tied the fabric tightly around the wounds. "That Crocodile Hunter was fucking nuts, man. I wouldn't do this again no matter how many hot chicks were watching."
Sam looked at him, a peer-into-your-soul gaze filtered by messy bangs. "It's just an alligator, Dean- an animal some kid dumped down here when it got too big to hide under the bed. It's not supernatural. Let's just go."
"You were so damn adamant on coming down here in the first place, now we're staying!"
"I can still pour salt and light a match."
"It's just an alligator!"
"You don't know that. We gotta be sure, that's why I packed the stuff in the first place. Standard protocol." Dean waved at the bag with his good hand. "We're here, we're doing it. Now get your ass in gear or I'll do it myself."
"Sit down before you fall down," Sam said, easing Dean to the floor. "This won't take long."
Minutes later, the alligator was nothing more than a floating island of burning carcass. Molten flames stretched to the ceiling, crackling and feasting on gasoline and flesh. The smell intensified, forcing the brothers to filter the air through the necks of their shirts as they watched.
Drained of blood and adrenaline, Dean felt sluggish and exhausted. The concrete was cool against the back of his head and he let his eyes close.
"Hey, stay awake. Let's get out of here."
Dean clung to Sam as they stood, unable to support his own weight. Through a foggy brain, he realized his depth of his dependency and immediately loathed it. This wasn't right, he wasn't supposed to be the one being cared for. That was his responsibility, a burden he bore with pride.
Right now though, it was all he could do to keep one foot in front of the other as they moved through the sewer. The white orb of Sam's flashlight bounced unsteadily on the ground before them, an excited hound leading them to freedom. Sam's other arm wrapped around Dean's shoulders, supporting him, as the back pack of supplies thumped in rhythm with their awkward gait.
By the time they reached the bottom of the ladder, Dean was out of breath and strength. His arm throbbed in waves of heat and agony, the intensity worsening by the minute. The ladder's iron rungs mocked him. "Hold up," he panted, disentangling himself from Sam and leaning against the wall. "Give me a minute."
Sam looked at him, the same critical look one gives a used car salesman seconds before signing the deed. He raised an eyebrow. "You can't climb."
"Yes I can, just give me a minute." Even as he spoke, Dean slid to the floor.
Sam looked up, aiming the flashlight through the opening above them. "I'll go up first, then lower a rope down. I'll pull you up."
Dean stared at him through swirling darkness, the hard pull of unconsciousness getting stronger. Goosebumps rose and he shivered as he processed Sam's words. "I'm not a sack of meat. I can climb."
But Sam was already ascending, his movements quick and tense, hurried. He was afraid.
Embarrassed, frustrated, and in pain, Dean closed his eyes and rested his head against the cold stone wall, injured arm resting in his lap. The bones didn't feel broken, but he couldn't really tell past the deep pain. His shoulder would be easy enough to fix- hell, even Sam could do that- but the mangled flesh worried him. Scars would immortalize a creature that wasn't worth the ammo used to kill it. It didn't deserve that respect, not like the other demons that had left their mark. Dean bore those scars proudly, as medals of honor and triumph, but this, what the alligator had done to him tonight… there was no pride here. He just hadn't gotten out of the way fast enough.
Unconsciousness claimed him.
A single streetlight glowed behind him, stretching Sam's shadow over the pavement as he worked the rope. Worry spiked his blood, quickly mutating into controlled panic.
Sam forced his trembling fingers over the rope, pushing and pulling at the knots until they were tight. The Impala rumbled impatiently behind him, scenting the air with exhaust fumes. The trunk was still open and inside lay the shotguns and back pack, where Sam had dropped them moments before.
At the bottom of the ladder, Dean was quiet and motionless.
"Hang on," Sam said, his shadow mirroring his movements as he worked. "Stay awake, Dean. It's not even three in the morning yet- you still got at least an hour before bed time."
Jerking the last knot into place, Sam quickly appraised the make-shift harness. It would hold, he was confident. Whether or not Dean would was the question.
Rope in hand, he hurried down the ladder, jumping the last three feet. The foul-smelling air was noticeable again, after having been out of it for a few minutes, and the air was thicker, hotter. Sam ignored it and went to Dean.
"Dean, come on- wake up," he ordered, his voice strangely calm despite the fear tingling in his veins. Without waiting for a response, Sam slipped his brother's arms through the ropes, carefully, unnerved at the pliancy of the limbs.
Dean turned his face away, muttering.
"I'm going to pull you up now," Sam said, just in case Dean was listening. "I'll go slow, but it'll probably hurt. Yell if you need me to stop, okay?"
"Not a… girl."
Sam smiled, leaving one hand on Dean's shoulder in a prolonged pat. "So you've mentioned." He let his hand slide away as he moved to the ladder. "Sit tight. Soon you'll be surrounded by more nurses than you can count."
Without opening his eyes, Dean smiled.
Sam quickly climbed the ladder, appreciating the fresh air as he pulled himself onto the street. He reached down and grabbed the rest of the rope, knuckles scratching the pavement. Hand over hand, he let out the length as he backed towards the Impala. At the rear bumper, Sam dropped to his knees, then all fours before twisting onto his back, pushing himself underneath the big car. He reached up, looping the rope around the rear axle, and then tied it off. After a hard yank to prove the knot's stability, Sam slid out and got to his feet.
'Thunderstruck' pounded a quick tempo through the speakers, providing an intense but quiet sense of urgency as Sam sat behind the steering wheel. Leaving the driver's door wide open, Sam put one foot on the brake before shifting the car into 'drive'. Then slowly, carefully, he lifted his foot.
Horses rumbled under the hood as the car crept forward, inch by inch, the entire frame trembling with suppressed power. With one hand on the wheel for balance, Sam leaned out, twisted in the seat, watching the rope slide smoothly out of the manhole. Listening. Praying- Not to God, but to success.
Twenty feet later, Dean's head appeared and Sam stopped the car. He jogged the length of the rope, now dark from wetness and filth, and stopped next to his brother. "You okay?"
Dean looked at him, his pupils large and dark, eyes unfocused. "The car, Sammy?"
"Well how else was I supposed to drag you out? You're not a lightweight, you know."
Dean shook his head. "You've been watching… way too many old west movies."
Relieved, Sam grinned and reached down. "Come on, Cowboy. Let's get you to the ER."
Dean looked up as the door cracked open. "Sam! Sam, get in here. Check out this babe on the cooking channel. Look at her- isn't she hot?"
Sam glanced at the TV before dropping the bags of candy on Dean's lap. He took a seat beside the IV pump and sipped his cup of coffee. "What's she making?"
"Hell if I know- isn't she hot, though?" Dean swallowed, staring at the swell of her breasts atop her low-cut blouse. His stomach rumbled as she layered cheese and noodles. "I had no idea the food channel was so… entertaining. It's like porn, but so much better."
Sam took another sip. "Enjoy it while you can. They're kicking you out in an hour."
Dean picked up the bag of M&Ms and tore it open. "You got me clean clothes, right? I'm burning the others. That smell will never come out."
Sam nodded to the duffle bag on the floor by the bathroom. "Of course I did. You think I want to smell that the whole way back to the motel?"
Crunching the candy by the handful, Dean nodded. "Good job. Knew I kept you around for something."
Sam stayed quiet for a moment, the beat in time creating a more somber tone. "What'd they say about your arm?"
"After I got done spewing some bullshit about a garbage disposal and bad electrical wiring?"
Sam raised an eyebrow. "Good one."
"I thought so."
Dean emptied another handful of candy into his mouth, the hard shells clicking against his teeth. "I'll live. Thirty-nine stitches and a prescription for Codeine- you know the drill."
Behind his coffee, Sam winced. "I should have killed it faster."
"And how would you have done that, huh? The damn thing was using me as a squeaky toy- you couldn't have killed it faster without shooting me too. Plus, did you see its skin?"
"Okay then, quit with the guilt trip. Wasn't nothing that would've killed it faster, unless maybe you have some spear-fishing skills I don't know about."
Finally, Dean got the smile he was after. "No."
After dumping the last of the candy in his mouth, Dean took a moment to chew. He stared at his arm, now wrapped in a temporary bandage, and tried to imagine what the wounds would look like once they were healed. He'd already been lucky to escape nerve damage. He hadn't lost any fingers or broken any bones. How much more could he ask for? How much more did he deserve? Next to him, the IV pump hummed steadily, dripping fluids through clear tubing inserted via a needle into his vein. Wasn't it enough that he was alive?
Dean eyed the container of cream on the bedside table, a promise by the doctor that it would reduce the scarring.
"Attacked by a Sewer Alligator," he mused aloud. "He was a huge son of a bitch, wasn't he?"
Sam smiled sickly, obviously remembering the attack. "I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't been there. Five shots, Dean. It took five shots to kill it." After a quiet chuckle, he added, "You were like Tarzan. I've never seen someone own an alligator like that. Poor bastard never knew what hit him."
And Dean realized then, that perhaps he really had earned the wounds on his arm. In all his days of ghost-busting, he'd never seen his father wrestle an alligator. Never heard of Bobby or Caleb or anyone else surviving 200 pounds of snapping, bone-crushing reptile. And hell, even the dude on TV got bit every other episode.
His chest began to swell with pride. "I should have my own TV show," Dean announced, his eyes glued to the woman on TV preparing lasagna. "A survival show about shooting things. I'll call it, 'The Killing Hour'."
Sam shifted in his chair, studying the IV pump. "I'm cutting you off."
"No, no. Hear me out. You can be my geeky sidekick. Bobby can be the producer. We'll sell it to Fox, they love shit like that. And- oh! A movie! Think about it, we'll only need a budget of like, fifty bucks. We'll be rich! And famous... we'll get Paris to play the damsel in distress."
"Paris is in jail, Dean."
"Yeah, for like, a day. We'll just keep the camera angles above her waist to hide the ankle bracelet."
Sam stood. "I'm gonna go call Bobby. Tell him you're just fine."
Watching him go, Dean called, "Tell him we start filming Monday!"