A/N: This is a very short piece of Sam whumpage because I needed a good dose of brotherly h/c this morning and because I wanted to write a gen story as a belated birthday present for my good friend, the fantastically patient, TammiTam. I know I've been more elusive than the Scarlet Pimpernel lately but I value our friendship, big time. Thanks for sticking by me.
Warnings - for some bad language and an unbeta'ed posting.
Wise Men Don't Make Wishes - 1/1
Dean stomps--literally stomps as though he's trying to pull off an impersonation of a fairytale giant--as he makes his way through the dense forest undergrowth of Bear Creek, Kentucky.
There are wild flowers littering his path. Tiny round petals of Birdsfoot Violet, Ivy-leaved Morning Glory and the pale white blossom of Cumberland Sandwort--which is rare enough to push some botanists close to a full on orgasm--but all of the flowers are promptly trampled into the ground by Dean's heavy biker boots.
Thick brambles twist, wrapping themselves tightly around Dean's ankles and he spits out curses, turning the air blue, as he kicks his way free of them.
His bare forearms are viciously scratched up, thin lines of bright red snaking over his skin but the cuts are small and inconsequential enough that he doesn't notice them. Then again, right now, Dean could lose an arm and it probably wouldn't even register, not when Sam…when Sammy is…
Goddamn enchanted forest.
"SAMMY?" Dean isn't in the best frame of mind and it isn't because of the fact he's being torn to shreds by plants but more about the fact that this morning he had a little brother and now he's all alone. "SAM?"
A tree root shifts upwards, breaking through the surface of the earth in a small shower of dirt, it catches Dean's foot. Dean goes down like a ton of bricks, hitting the ground hard enough to knock the wind right out of him. He lies still for a moment, blinking rapidly in shock before he's scrambling back up to his feet and hurrying onward again.
He can see the clearing up ahead. He can't see Sam, not yet but he can feel him. It's a sixth-sense Dean has perfected over the years, Sam might not even be in the same room but he always knows, he just knows, if his kid brother is nearby.
He'd know if Sam were already dead. He'd know with the way his heart would shrivel up and perish, the way his chest would feel hollow in its emptiness.
Dean finally, finally, breaks into the clearing he has been searching for. He finds the centre and stumbles down onto his knees. His breath comes in harsh pants, sweat dripping down his forehead into his eyes. "Okay, games over. Give him back." Dean whispers, eyes darting restlessly. He's so utterly sick with fear that he wants to cry.
Silence is Dean's only answer until somewhere in the distance, a crow caws and it sounds like laughter. "Please." Dean gasps and he pounds the ground with his fists in frustration, bending over until his forehead is resting on the cool damp grass. He breaths in the rich forest air, the musty decaying scent of the rapidly approaching Fall is so thick in the air he can almost taste death on his tongue. "Please don't take him away from me."
When they left the motel this morning, Sam was wearing one of Dean's Metallica t-shirts. All of his own gear apparently either too grungy, too tatty or too dotted with old crusty blood stains to meet Sam's high standards. Dean has never fully understood his brother's fixation with cleanliness. The way Dean has always seen things is that it's fine to keep wearing an item of clothing until it can stand up on its own and walk itself to the nearest Laundromat.
The t-shirt had looked way too baggy on Sam's slim gangly fourteen-year-old frame and Dean had sniggered loudly, pointing out that Sam would never have a big manly chest like his if he keeps turning his nose up at fast food in favor of eating nothing but salads and power bars. Sam had scowled and mumbled something back about how he'd never want to be like Dean anyway. Dean hadn't quite known what to make of that but somewhere, deep inside, it had hurt. Just a little.
It seems that has been Sam's MO lately, when he's not silently moping around the hotel room he's mumbling sarcastic comments under his breath--taking digs at Dean's choice of current girlfriend or at Dad's ongoing absence.
Quite simply, Sam has been an emo pain in Dean's butt ever since Dad left them alone together to track down a vampire nest rumoured to be in North Carolina. Dad had called last night, firm voice rumbling over the telephone line as he gave orders for them to check out a lead on a haunted forest not far from their motel. It's been almost a month since they've seen their father, the longest John's ever been away and when Sam slammed the bathroom door closed behind him, yelling that if Dad cared about them he wouldn't send them on hunts alone, there was a small part of Dean which agreed with him.
The hunt had seemed like a bust from the start. Three mind-numbing hours of tromping through the forest with nothing showing up on the EMF meter and Sam bitching and moaning every single step of the way about a piece of homework he hadn't had time to finish. Nothing pisses Dean off more than a hunt which garners no results, with nothing for him to shoot at Sam's whining had riled his temper to a point where Dean had suddenly stopped walking, turned around to glare angrily at his brother and said…
"You said I wish…." She's standing right in front of Dean, her tiny hand reaching out to touch velvety soft fingers to Dean's cheek. He has to fight back the urge to scramble away.
"I didn't mean it…fucking Christ, I'd never wish that."
"You said I wish you'd get lost Sam." Her voice is like birdsong, musical and intrinsically feline.
No. No. No. No. Dean shakes his head, his eyes sting and he has to blink a few times before her face comes back into focus. The incandescent light which surrounds her is so brilliant, piercing, it cuts through Dean's eyes like shards of glass. "Give me my brother." Dean says, shielding his face from the light with one hand. His lips are trembling and he knows his voice shakes when he speaks.
"You'll leave and never come back?"
"Yes, damn it. Anything."
"No Winchester must ever step foot in this forest again."
"Then if you can get to him in time, he's yours for the taking." She points through the trees and Dean's eyes follow the line of her long bony finger.
He doesn't stop to ask how much time he has, how much time Sam has, he's wasted way too much already. Instead he runs and he knows he's hit the jackpot the moment his eyes fall upon the oak tree. It's old, ancient, twisted trunk and wild knarled limbs. Dean sees the hole in the trunk and reaches inside, fingers catching on silvery cobwebs and dried out twigs from a bird's nest in the hollow space inside. Then, something soft and pliant. Something cold to the touch.
Dean's hands are bleeding as he tears at the sides of the hole, frantically ripping chunks and strips of bark away to make it bigger. He could run back to the car and fetch an axe but he can't risk accidentally striking Sam and he doesn't know how much longer Sam can hold on. Or even if Sam is holding on.
The tree is rotten and the dead wood starts to fall away in his hands as the hole grows larger. He pulls and tugs and keeps making steady progress until he can finally see the top of Sam's head, tangled waves of dirty brown hair.
A few more pieces of wood come away and Dean can see Sam's white face, his eyes are closed and Dean breath catches in his throat. His chest tightening, he works harder, mindless of the sweat breaking out on his back and the blood now running freely from the slices the razor sharp splinters are digging into his fingers.
At long last the hole is big enough for Dean to reach inside the truck and he tugs Sam towards him. Sam's body topples forward, a loose limbed rag doll. He's too light, too quiet, as Dean pulls him free through the narrow space the hole allows.
Dean staggers back and falls clumsily, Sam a sprawling dead weight on top of him. He struggles out from underneath his brother and rolls Sam over onto his back, pressing his ear to the faded Metallica logo covering Sam's chest. There's a heartbeat, a slow steady pounding but Sam's chest isn't moving and Sam's still so worryingly pale underneath all the dirt covering his skin. His face is bleached white and he looks as otherworldly as the dryad back there in the clearing.
Dean's sits back on his haunches, reaches down to run a hand through Sam's hair. Sam's chest isn't moving. Sam's chest isn't moving.
A jolt of panic bursts through Dean's body and he leans over, thumb and forefinger closing off Sam's nostrils as he breathes into Sam's mouth. Sam's chest rises and then goes still. Come on. Come on.
Dean breathes again, Sam's lips are dry and cracked against his own warm moist mouth. Sam tastes of salt and coppery blood. Dean doesn't want to think about how long Sam must have been trapped inside the tree but even when he tries not to look, he can't help but notice that all of Sam's fingernails are torn and bleeding. He focuses back on the job at hand, the repetitive pattern of breathing for Sam and then lifting his head to watch Sam's chest for any signs of movement.
Suddenly Sam coughs and Dean jumps, startled. He quickly shifts away, giving his brother space to move, to breathe. Sam rolls onto his side, hacking dryly and Dean wishes he had a bottle of water or something useful to offer him. Not knowing what else to do he puts a hand on Sam's arm, trying to soothe him through the worst of the coughing fit. Finally Sam flops onto his back, clearly worn out, tears making his cheeks damp to the touch.
"I didn't mean it, Sammy. I didn't."
Sam doesn't answer instead he crawls weakly towards Dean, curling himself into Dean's lap like he's five-years-old again and still small enough to fit. Dean doesn't care, this is one display of honest to God need that he won't tease Sam over. He wraps his arms around his brother's shivering body and pulls him in towards his chest. Dean swiftly ghosts his hands over Sam's limbs, checking for hidden wounds or possible breaks and then, he wraps Sam in his arms and simply holds him.
He holds Sam like that until Sam goes limp, head drooping against Dean's shoulder. Dean slips an arm under Sam's knees and struggles to his feet. Turning in the direction of the road, he starts walking. It's a long trek but Dean honestly doesn't give a damn. Everything that matters to him is sleeping in his arms.
The next morning comes quickly and Sam's still exhausted but virtually back to his old self again. Dean, however, is still in full-on hovering mode. Bringing back food for his brother which he wouldn't normally touch with a ten-foot barge pole.
When Dean returns from one such shopping trip and hands over a bag of oatmeal and raisin cookies, Sam knows something has got to give. "Dean…it wasn't your fault."
"Please, Sammy, I don't want you to make me feel better."
"I don't fucking care what you want." Sam spits out and Dean twists his head to look at him, shocked. "I forgive you." Sam adds, softly, fingers fidgeting with the white paper bag in front of him.
Dean rolls his bottom lip between his teeth, eyes staring holes into the carpet. He stays motionless until Sam gets up from his bed and walks unsteadily towards him. Sam reaches out to give Dean a brief hug, long arms wrapping around his back and Dean sinks into the embrace before he pushes Sam gently away. "Such a girl."
Sam shakes his head and slumps back onto the bed. Too tired to do much else, he sees the worry on Dean's face before Dean thinks fast enough to erase all trace of it. "Get some more sleep, princess." Dean says, throwing the comforter from his own bed over Sam's legs in a way which is meant to appear nonchalant but is anything but.
Sam sinks back against his pillow, eyes following Dean around the room until he can't keep them open any longer. He's almost--but not quite--asleep when he feels Dean tugging the comforter up so that it's snug around his shoulders and he smells a fleeting scent of gunpowder mingled with sweat and cheap deodorant which belongs solely to his brother.
As Sam drifts, slipping deeper into sleep, he thinks he hears Dean whisper I love you Sammy but really, he always has had the weirdest dreams.
Dryad: Dryads are specifically the nymphs of oak trees, although the term has come to be used for all tree nymphs in general.