Disclaimer: Nope, I just checked and I still don't own 'em. What a shame!

It's Just a Scratch

By: Vanessa Sgroi

"C'mon, Sam," grunted Dean Winchester, "hurry the hell up!" A chill wind dried the meandering tracks of sweat on Dean's face as he called out somewhat breathlessly to his brother.

"I am, damn it," yelled Sam, shoveling furiously and sending dirt frantically flying over his left shoulder.

Dean yelped as an unseen force, controlled by the approaching vengeful spirit of Benjamin Booker, pitched him forward like a baseball over home plate. Contact with the ground drove air from his lungs. The hunter quickly regained his feet and wheezed a little, working to regain his breath. At the same instant, he was wishing he had time to locate the rock salt filled shotgun that had gone flying the first time Booker's spirit had launched him into the air.

"Sam? He's getting faster, and I'm getting slower."

Without warning, the elder Winchester was again picked up and lobbed like a lawn dart through the air. This time when he landed, the tip of a wing of a marble angel monument abraded his cheek and his right knee connected with a sizeable rock hidden by crunchy brown leaves and other debris. He couldn't hold back a surprised cry at the jolt of pain.

Hearing Dean's cry of distress, Sam redoubled his efforts to uncover Booker's coffin. He was rewarded moments later as the shovel landed with a dull thud on the casket lid. Clearing away more dirt, Sam positioned himself to pry open the lid.

"Got it!" he called.

His announcement was greeted with a curse, followed by another thwack of body meeting ground.

Sam hurriedly wrested the lid open, revealing Booker's brownish, pitted bones. Pulling himself from the open grave, he grabbed the container filled with salt and sprinkled it liberally over the bones,before snatching the gas can he'd left close by and dousing the remains with the flammable liquid. Next, he extracted a book of matches from his shirt pocket, lit the entire book, and tossed it in the hole. The resounding whoosh was accompanied by Sam's gusty sigh of satisfaction.

Dean watched as the angry spirit of Benjamin Booker, now only about two feet from his own face, melted away in a waterfall of gray sludge, disappearing completely in a matter of seconds. He pushed himself up off the ground and stood still for a moment assessing the various throbs and aches assaulting his body. Deciding the worst of it was his knee, bruised and tender from its close encounter with the rock, Dean opened his mouth to make a smart-ass crack to Sam when his brother suddenly shouted.

"Dean, watch out!"

The elder hunter spun to face the threat and instinctively ducked when he spied a flash of silver out of the corner of his eye. To his disgust, he was a hairsbreadth too slow and that same flash of silver sliced across the top of his left shoulder.

"Ow! What the hell?" His eyes scanned the gloom-filled cemetery but saw nothing of significance. "Sam? What'd you see?"

"I dunno. A black shadow with a white face . . . I think."

Both brothers remained still but their eyes scoured their surroundings for further danger, however, all was still.

Dean muttered, "Well, whatever it was, it seems to be gone. What was that silver flash?"

Sam countered, "Happened too fast. Didn't see what it was. But what was the 'ow' for?"

His older brother mumbled something Sam didn't quite catch.

"What was that?"

"I said," huffed Dean, "the damn thing hurt when it clipped me on the shoulder."

Approaching his brother, Sam asked, "How bad is it?" He watched closely as Dean rotated his shoulder.

"It's all right. It's just a scratch."

"Uh huh," came Sam's skeptical reply, "I'm still checking it when we get back to the motel."

"Whatever," Dean sighed, "Hey, you think we can find the silver thing here somewhere?"

"In the dark with just flashlights? I doubt it."

Dean rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands. "Nevermind. I'm too tired to look anyway. Let's just finish up and go."

He moved forward to start cleaning up their post salt-and-burn mess.

The younger hunter stated, "You're limping."

"Thank you for that brilliant diagnosis, Marcus Welby, M.D.," snorted Dean, "and before you ask—it's fine—just bruised from connecting with a big ass rock on the ground somewhere."

Mentally noting to check the knee as well as the shoulder, Sam left his intention unspoken since Dean would merely grumble.

As quickly as they could, the boys cleaned up the scene and then headed for the Impala. A half moon and sprinkling of stars shining bright between scuttling clouds, glittered on the shiny black car as they approached.

"Want me to drive?" Sam asked, stowing the two shovels and empty containers in the trunk. He watched as Dean tossed the shotgun in after them and closed the trunk lid.

"Nah, I got it."

A twist of the key brought the Impala to life and the big car rumbled out of the cemetery, turning toward the Best Rest Motel. The ride back was silent except for several huge yawns elicited from Dean.

Once back in the room, Dean limped over to his bed and slumped down on the edge, wincing as his swollen knee protested being bent. Another huge yawn caught him unaware and his jaw popped with its intensity.

He mumbled, "You wanna shower first?"

Seeing how tired his brother was, Sam offered, "No, you can go, but let me see that 'scratch'".

Dean's first thought was to argue, but he decided it wasn't worth it. Instead, he pulled off the two shirts he was wearing, bemoaning the torn cloth and small bloodstains.

Sam leaned in for a closer look at the wound. Though it looked a little raw and painful, he was pleased that, for once, Dean hadn't been just downplaying a wound. It was slightly more than a scratch and would need cleaning and bandaging as it was still oozing blood, but still it was a minor wound. He sighed in relief.

"Told ya."


"Told ya it was just a scratch," murmured the older man.

"Yeah, imagine that—for once you were honest," teased Sam. "It still needs cleaning and bandaging. Now let me see that knee."

"Ahhh, Sam . . ."

"I'm not gonna take no for an answer, dude."

Knowing Sam could be surprising adamant when he made up his mind, and also knowing he'd never get the leg of the jeans up over his injured knee, Dean reluctantly stood and undid the button and zipper of his jeans then pushed them to his ankles.

Sinking back on the bed, he muttered, "Happy now?"

Sam was silent has he examined the swollen joint. He pushed gently at the bruising with his fingers and he heard his brother hiss. "Looks painful."

"Ya think?" growled Dean.

"All right, all right," Sam raised his hands in a placating manner, "I'll bandage that cut on your shoulder after you get out of the shower, okay?"

Yawning again, Dean nodded before getting up and limping to the bathroom. Closing the door behind him, he turned the knobs and set the water temperature to just shy of too hot. Stripping quickly, he slid underneath the soothing waterfall.

(SN) (SN) (SN)

Sam decided to get some ice for his brother's knee while Dean was in the shower. He grabbed the little plastic bucket off the table. Thinking a couple of sodas might taste good too, he checked his pocket for money before snatching up the key and hurrying from the room.

(SN) (SN) (SN)

Dean sighed as the hot water caressed his abused muscles, easing their throbbing. He ducked his head under the spray and reached for the small bottle of shampoo tucked away in the corner of the tub.

The blinding pain struck without warning. Every pain receptor in his body—from his head to his toes—lit up like a Christmas tree. Every molecule felt electrified. He crashed to his knees with a guttural cry. The hot water, now burning like acid on his exposed skin, continued to rain down trapping the breath in his agonized lungs.

And just as fast as it struck, the pain disappeared.

Dean remained on his hands and knees, shivering despite the heat of the water. With supreme effort, he reached up and turned off the taps. In the sudden silence, just for a split second, he swore he heard a tinny echo of laughter. Shaking his head to dispel the crazy notion, Dean crawled out of the tub. Standing on shaky legs, he groped for the scratchy motel towel and slung it around his hips, not bothering to dry off and then slowly shuffled back into the main room, his twice- abused knee protesting every step.

TBC . . .