Chapter 1

Synopsis: When a hunt goes completely wrong, a distraught John has to come to the rescue of his boys.

Notes: Thanks as always to my wonderful beta's Phoebe and Amarintha who brush through my musings with a fine tooth comb and make it all pretty and presentable. This first chapter is in honor of the Season 4 premiere this Thursday, just 2 more sleeps … Woo Hoo! It was initially going to be a Hurt/Sammy story only (which I've been promising) … but the Hurt/Dean plot bunnies got hold of it as well … blame them … I'm just the vessel ;0)

Warning: Language. I'm using the F word … probably Phoebe's influence ROFL … but I think it's necessary under the circumstance ;0)

Cliffhanger Artwork: Please check out my homepage for the link to the beautiful banner that nargynargy made for Cliffhanger :)

Dean's POV


This is so not good. My stomach churns. Dad is seriously going to kick my ass … well … only if I can get us out of this mess.

"Look after your brother Dean … keep an eye out for Sammy … don't disappoint me!"

"Yessir ... you know I will!"

My shoulder wrenches in its socket ... god … I think I've dislocated it. I bite down on my lip, ignoring the white hot pain flaring up one arm as I try to grip onto the cold and slippery rock surface beneath me with the other. Shit! Shit! Shit!! Someone please explain, how is it that things always go from 'worse' to 'you-gotta-be-shitting-me' in the blink of an eye? Sometimes I wonder at the mysterious workings of the universe. I swear it has to be some sort of mass frickin' conspiracy, either that, or Sammy and I are totally frickin' cursed! There's just no way one family can have this much bad luck!


"I've got you, I've got you …"

Take now for example. I'm clinging for all I'm worth with one hand clamped onto my little brother's arm while he hangs over the edge of a cliff … just another ordinary frickin' day in the life of a Winchester. I'm lying flat on my stomach at a very hazardous-to-your-health angle. He's looking up at me with terrified eyes, body swinging dangerously as I hold on with superhuman strength. I grunt as he swings, twisting wildly, while his other hand moves up to grasp onto my outstretched arm. He's trying to get some leverage but the rock face is icy, and his foot keeps slipping. The full weight of his body pulls on my shoulder again as he hangs in free space, making me shout out in pain. He looks up apologetically as he continues to try and pull himself up, worry etched in every line on his face.

We're both sweating heavily from the effort … shit … I hate mountains … and cliffs … but mostly camping, I really hate camping! Probably the thin, cold mountain air, which is making it almost impossible for me to breathe, even without the added pressure of holding onto Sammy …

I had to dive halfway down this sloping incline, sliding the rest of the way, before I thankfully caught Sammy's arm just as he went over the side, inches ahead of me. I can feel the uncomfortable sting of the beginnings of a massive bruise along my side, even though we're both wearing well padded winter jackets.

"Dean … I can't hold on …"

God, he's looking at me with defeat, he thinks he's going to die.

"Yes you can Sammy … you hold on damnit … I'll pull you up!"

I grunt again as I start inching myself backwards slowly, my calf and thigh muscles burning painfully as I overexert them. I can do this! I can do this! The sharp angle of the smooth rock I'm lying on, the fresh snowfall, and that uncooperative thing called gravity, are working overtime against me.

"A little help … Sam …"

I huff, ignoring the agony each tugging movement is causing my shoulder. He tries to get a footing again, his sweat slick hands clinging to my jacket sleeve while I keep a firm grip on his right arm. I watch as he struggles to get traction, but years of wind erosion and ice have left their mark on the rock face. He slips again, I yell again … but I don't release my hold.

He swings freely, the ground far below hidden by outcropping ledges and tall trees. The sudden hopelessness in his eyes makes me want to scream out loud, not in pain, but in sheer frustration. Come on! Give us a damn break, will ya? I glance up pleadingly at the sky, looking for something, anything … nothing. The quick looks Sam keeps throwing my way … shit … I know what he's thinking. He's going to try and convince me, try somehow to save me … sacrifice himself … but I cling to him more desperately with every ounce of strength I have, adrenalin and fear coursing through my tired body.

The words I'm expecting, the words I refuse to ever accept, still make me sick to my stomach … they're words I never wanted to hear from Sammy's mouth.

"Dean … please … let me go."

I grunt loudly as I try to get more leverage of my own, feeling myself slipping again ...

"No way dude … not in a million years!"


Shit, he's using that tone of voice … and suddenly I'm furious … he's pleading with me, he's giving up … but I won't let him …


I shut my eyes for a brief second, trying to focus past the anger and fear.

"You hold on … I'll pull you up … please for the love of god … just hang on."

Where the hell is dad when I need him? He went off in a different direction, up the mountainside, and into the dense forest somewhere, but Sammy and I were the ones who found the frickin' Wendigo. After three gawdawfully long days of camping out here in the cold wilderness. Hell, I even killed the smelly thing with a flick of lighter fluid and a match, saw it go up in flames, but not before it managed to throw Sammy with incredible force, sliding him down the slope, and nearly over this frickin' cliff. The memory makes my stomach flip again. Shit … If I could just get a steady hold somewhere, I could probably reach that 'borrowed' satellite phone Dad insisted we take with us on the hunt. It's in my jacket pocket.

"Storm's coming boys … need to be able to keep in touch in case there's an emergency."

Yeah, well thanks a mill dad, forgot to mention a little something about how the hell I should contact you in an emergency when both my hands are full. Shit!

"Dean … it's okay …"

I give Sammy a warning look. Damnit, I'm going to kick his scrawny ass when we get off this mountain! Doesn't he understand? It's not okay … I can't … I won't lose him …

I slip a few inches forward again, everything from my waist up hanging over the edge of the cliff, but my grip remains firm and steady … muscles I didn't know I had are cramping with the effort. Shit … it's happening … this is it … there's no way I can get enough leverage to pull Sammy up … he knows it … I know it. The truth bites like a bitch. Didn't in a million years imagine it would all end like this, dying on some frickin' mountain. Sammy shakes his head, silently begging me to save myself … I swallow hard … knowing what I have to do. It's my job … to protect Sammy … just that one job … what my life has always been about, I have no real regrets, none that I'll admit to myself … well, present situation excluded.

The seconds tick by … I know the inevitable is about to happen, I'm slipping which means that Sammy's going to let go of my arm … I can see the resignation on his face, but he's underestimating me, he doesn't know how far I'll go … what I'll do, what I'll sacrifice. My hand becomes an unbreakable vise and I try to ignore the agony threatening to break that precious hold, doing the only thing I can to distract myself under the circumstances … I make a list …

One completely dead Wendigo … check.

One completely pissed off Dad when he eventually finds our sorry asses … check.

One completely fucked up situation … check.

Sammy's writhing frantically now, starting to claw at my fingers in panic, trying to loosen my grip as he battles to squirm loose.

I still manage to smile down at him calmly, even though I'm terrified … never been so scared in my whole life ...

"It's okay Sammy, I've got you … I'm not going to let you go …"

"No Dean … please …"

I can see the shock in his expression, the denial as I reach out, releasing my hold on the cliff, on the one thing that could've saved my life … grabbing onto him instead with both hands … knowing without a doubt that if I can't save him … then I can't save myself. I slip the last few inches, clinging to him with a death-like grip as gravity finally wins and we both slip over the edge.

Everything moves in slow motion, just like in the movies. It would be really cool, if I weren't on the verge of freaking out right now. Sammy's distorted yell of denial echoes around us.


It's still a seriously weird sensation though, but not completely unfamiliar. Been in similar deadly situations before, got the bloody t-shirts to prove it … okay, nothing quiet as bad as this, but damn close. Both my arms have somehow wrapped around Sammy's waist, and I've managed to twist myself into a pretzel, but I got myself between Sam and whatever it is we hit first. Just a last ditch, and completely hopeless effort to miraculously save my little brother somehow, anyhow.

The wind is whistling madly around us as we fall and I'm surprised to find I have a moment to admire the scenery, removing myself from the reality of the situation. So this is where it all ends … in 'gods' country … the white capped mountains and the fir trees in the distance … not at the clutches of the demons … I snort at the irony.

… it takes another moment to look into Sammy's childlike face, tears falling down his cheeks in sparkling droplets. His eyes are wider than I've ever seen them, full of fear, regret, anger, sadness … and love. I try to smile at him reassuringly, knowing how completely pathetic I am for trying.

I think about Dad … yeah, he's definitely going to tear me a new one for this stunt and I grin at that stupid thought. But my life doesn't flash before my eyes, not like I've heard people say it does, it's just Sammy and me in the moment. Sammy … he's been my whole life.

At least we're going out together.

That thought is what follows me the rest of the way down, a peaceful warmth settling over me as we turn slowly in midair. It feels like we're falling forever, but it's probably only a few seconds … time suddenly has no meaning. I'm looking at the brilliantly bright sky above, Sammy and I embracing, a final hug, a final goodbye … before the harsh, bone crunching impact turns the beautiful blue to impenetrable black.