Beyond the Sun

Disclaimer: If I owned them, I wouldn't be writing fanfiction….Or would I? Hmmm….

oooOOOooo

Look for me the way you would if you were blind

Don't be so resistant

I've been known to travel much to fast

Is that you in the distance?

Beyond the Sun

Shinedown

oooOOOooo

The night couldn't have been darker, and the shriek of the wind was deafening. The storm had been building for hours, but it had begun to release its fury suddenly. After an ear-piercing clap of thunder and a burst of lightning that lit up the entire sky and, the rain started to fall in big, cold drops.

He'd hoped to finish the job before the squall started, but the creature had been more cunning than he'd expected. Somehow it had gotten between him and his brother and now, as the storm raged around him, he had no idea in which direction to go. He decided he may as continue forward, but the flashlight was all but useless as he made his way down the path through the woods.

Knowing it was futile against the wind, he yelled his brother's name, but even if there'd been an answer, he wouldn't have heard it. Panic was beginning to set in as he ran along the path, sweeping the ineffective beam around. He wasn't even looking for the creature anymore; he just wanted to find his brother and get the hell out of the damn storm.

-----

The moon was full behind the cover of the thick clouds, and that in no way lessened its effect on the werewolf. He barely felt the rain, and was invigorated by the cold wind blowing through his pelt. The storm had slowed the hunters, making it easier for him to escape. One of them had barely missed with a silver bullet, but a sudden crack of thunder had startled him and affected his aim. The bullet lodged in the tree the wolf had been hiding behind. He'd taken a moment to consider lunging at the man, but in the end, decided it would be more prudent just to get away.

He wasn't sure where the other one had gone at first, but he'd caught the scent despite the storm. He hadn't actually intended to get between them, but once he realized he had, he used it to his full advantage. He'd managed to lead one of them into the woods, off the relative safety of the path. He ran in circles, hoping to confuse the hunter, and it seemed he'd reached his goal. The hunter no longer appeared to be tracking him. Instead, he was probably looking for his way back to the path, but he was headed in the exact wrong direction.

Satisfied he was out of harm's way, the werewolf began to run. Even though he couldn't see the moon, he could feel it. He knew he didn't have much time before turning back into a human, and he needed to get to cover. There was a cabin not too far away, but the hunters could come upon it, so he would continue to the caves. He preferred to wake up curled in a bed, but that wouldn't happen if he was discovered. The caves would have to do.

As he ran, leaping gracefully over fallen logs and other obstacles, the werewolf listened as one hunter called for the other. He was confident the thunder and the wind covered his voice, and thought they probably wouldn't reunite until once the storm had ended. Considering that, he thought again about the comfortable bed he was giving up, but even apart, the hunters could discover him there. Better to stay with his original plan.

-----

Sam knew he would have no service on his cell phone in the middle of the woods, especially during a storm, but he checked it anyway. He'd seen his brother run off the path after the werewolf. He'd heard him take the shot, but he'd also heard the howl of the wolf moments later. It sounded victorious rather than injured, so Sam knew that Dean had missed.

He wasn't sure how the beast had gotten between them, not that it mattered now. He pushed his wet hair off of his face, calling Dean's name again. It was more out of frustration than anything else. He knew the wind swallowed his voice, and that there was almost no chance Dean would hear him.

They should have turned back when it was clear the storm wasn't going to blow over, but they both had felt they were too close to give up. And the rain had started so suddenly, and with such ferocity….Still, it would have been better to give up the hunt and stay safe. Now, he had no idea where Dean was, and no good way to find him.

He was sure the werewolf was long gone by now, but he'd seen Dean run into the cover of the trees after the animal. Normally, he'd trust his brother's skills, but with as black as it was and the rain being blown sideways by the wind….

"Dean!" Sam yelled as loud as he could, moving carefully in the direction he'd last seen his brother. "Dean!"

-----

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

As soon as Dean lost the werewolf, he should have gone back. He knew how easy it was to get turned around in a heavily wooded area at night, and now he was sure the fury bastard had been leading him in circles on purpose. He'd thought he was moving back toward the path, but he should have reached it by now. He called for Sam, but he knew it was useless.

His cell phone was worthless, and even if the batteries hadn't died in his flashlight, the beam wouldn't penetrate the inky blackness that surrounded him. He knew better than to panic because that would make everything worse, but even the best training sometimes failed. He'd spent forty years in Hell, and he didn't feel like he'd come back quite the same as he'd left. He knew all of the same things, but what he'd experienced in the pit….

No!

Dean refused to give in to the nervousness he suddenly felt. He just had to get his bearings and make his way back to the path. From there, he could get to Sam and together they would go back to the car. Unless, Dean realized, Sam was already waiting for him in the shelter of the Impala.

He stopped walking and looked around, but he had no idea where he was. He was certain he'd been going in the wrong direction, but which one was right? The wind wasn't blowing quite as hard as it had been, but he still had to squint against the sting of the rain. He reached into his pocket, but didn't find anything helpful. After a moment of consideration, he unzipped his coat and tugged at the tail of his flannel shirt. He ripped some of the material and tied it to a nearby sapling before turning around and going back the way he'd come. He looked at his watch, deciding he'd walk for ten minutes and then reevaluate the situation.

After a few minutes, Dean thought he heard his name being called. He stopped walking, listening more intently, but now all he heard was the wind and the thunder. He realized he'd been counting after the flash of lightning, stopping when the thunder crashed. The time between the two was increasing, so he knew the storm was moving away.

"Sam!" Dean yelled, not surprised when he didn't get an answer.

-----

Sam thought he heard his name and he paused. He knew the smart thing would be to get back on the path and make his way to the car. For all he knew, Dean had already found his way back to it. Something told him that wasn't the case, though. His instinct was telling him that Dean was lost in the woods.

It was strange to think of Dean being lost. He had an almost atlas-like knowledge of the back roads of America, and could find his way anywhere he needed to go. He almost never even had to look at a map, and as far as Sam knew, had never used the GPS function on is phone to find his way. During the day, there was no way Dean would have gotten turned around in the woods. Even on a normal night he'd be able to use the stars as a guide back to his car.

Sam looked behind him, back toward the surety of the trail. After another moment of consideration, he continued forward.

-----

Dean flinched as another bolt of lightning flashed. It seemed much closer than only a moment before. Maybe there was another wave coming, he thought. As the thunder rolled over him, he stopped to check his watch. He'd been walking for nearly ten minutes, even though it didn't seem like it had been that long. He looked around, again, seeing nothing he could use as a guide. Nothing looked familiar in the darkness. Or, more correctly, it all looked the same. He tore another strip from his shirt and tied it around a nearby bush.

It had been so reckless to take off after the werewolf with a storm coming, but it had been downright brainless to do it without a few more provisions. Other than his shotgun, extra rounds and a useless flashlight, he had nothing with him. He could try to use the gun to signal Sam, but the wind would disguise the direction of the sound.

He moved off in another direction after checking the time again. Another ten minutes, and he'd pause for another reevaluation. He saw the lighting, but the clap of thunder blocked out the crack of the tree. Dean saw it falling just a moment too late. He fell over a large rock, and before he could roll out of the way, the large limb pinned him to the wet ground.

Sonofabitch. Dean struggled with the limb, but it was too heavy for him to lift on his own. He tried to wiggle out from underneath it, but that also proved fruitless. Even under the thick trees, the rain pelted his face, but turning his head didn't make it any better. He felt his chest tightening under the limb, and tried to at least move into a more comfortable position. The limb shifted, settling more heavily on top of him, and Dean grunted in frustration.

-----

Sam saw the lightning and heard the thunder, and wished the storm would just move away quickly. Even if the clouds remained, if the wind stopped blowing, he would at least have a chance of hearing Dean yelling for him.

He was tempted again to turn back to the trail, but something told him not to. He'd trusted his instincts his entire life, and even though his training told him to turn around, he didn't. He knew that Dean was somewhere ahead of him, not behind him.

Sam flashed back to the night Dean and Bobby showed up at his motel room. It had been so random, and so unexpected. He'd buried his brother four months before, ignoring Bobby's plea for a funeral pyre. He'd been determined to get Dean back, and he'd need his body when Sam succeeded.

But he'd not been able to find a way to do it. He'd even tried to sell his own soul, but no demon had been willing to make a deal. For the first time, he'd been truly alone. Even when he'd left his family for Stanford, he'd known they were there. If he'd really wanted to, he could have gotten in touch with Dean. Even their dad might have taken his call.

Sam knew that Bobby had been there for him, but the old man had been dealing with his own pain. Their few phone calls had been too strained, though Sam now realized that had probably been his own fault. He'd projected his own feelings of inadequacy and failure onto Bobby; sure that was how the other hunter felt. Instead of turning to Bobby, Sam had turned to alcohol. The alcohol had led to Ruby.

He truly felt that what he'd been doing with Ruby – strengthening his power – was the right thing to do. If he got powerful enough, he could go after Lilith and avenge his brother's death. Even now, with Dean back, Sam still thought he was doing something good. He was exorcising demons and saving their victims. He didn't like lying to his brother about it, but Dean just didn't understand….

Sam pushed those thoughts away. He had to concentrate on the job at hand or else he risked getting lost, too. He'd taken another few steps when an unexpected sob escaped his lips. He had to find Dean; he couldn't go through losing him again. He didn't think he'd survive a second time.

Without warning, his thoughts moved to his actions after escaping the time loop that had trapped them while investigating the Mystery Spot. He'd finally found a way to get past that damn Tuesday….past the inescapable death of his brother. Nearly 100 Tuesdays and nearly 100 deaths….But Wednesday had been worse. Dean had been fatally shot, and it had been that death that affected Sam the most.

He became focused on hunting. Everything he did was with military precision. At first he'd thought his father would have been proud that he'd finally embraced his training in such a way, but looking back on it after successfully getting his brother back, he'd thought his actions would probably have scared his dad. Sam had thought he'd been in such control of himself, but the truth of it was he'd been tail-spinning. He couldn't go through that again. Not now. Not already. He'd just gotten Dean back.

His heart had nearly stopped when he walked to the open motel room door to see who Ruby was talking to. At first he'd only seen Bobby. It was almost like his brain didn't register that his brother was standing only a few feet away from him. He'd heard Dean's voice and tears had sprung into his eyes. Dean had walked into the room, and for a moment, it was just the two of them. He held onto his brother, his eyes closed and saying a silent prayer. He'd felt Dean's arms around him….

Sam realized he'd stopped paying attention to where he was going. He looked around, and was convinced he'd still at least been moving in the same direction. He thought the rain was letting up some, and the wind didn't seem quite as strong.

-----

Dean gasped when his eyes opened. He looked around, uncertain at first what had happened. He lifted his head, feeling it pull away from the mud. His ears had filled with water and he shuddered. He wasn't sure how long he'd been out, but the rain was still falling. He tried again to push the large tree limb off of him, but he could barely lift his arms, let alone the branch.

Dean thought the wind had calmed somewhat, and he wondered if Sam would be able to hear the blast of the shotgun, but he couldn't find it. Damnit!

It's not going to happen this way, Dean vowed to himself. He survived Hell for forty years, and there was no damn way he was going to die under this freakin' tree limb.

He couldn't help but wonder what would happen when he eventually died. Would he automatically go back to Hell, or had he earned some kind of reprieve? And speaking of the afterlife, where the hell was Castiel? Dean had already come to learn that despite his apparent importance to the man upstairs, the angels weren't his personal saviors, pardon the pun.

Cas didn't come to his aid just because he was in trouble, which was probably how it should be. Dean didn't want to get complacent. He'd always lived by his instincts, and that's how he wanted it….though a little help out from under this stupid limb wouldn't be unappreciated.

He didn't want to think about Hell or the angels right now. He never wanted to think about Hell. What he'd seen….what he'd done….he wasn't that person, not really. Was he? Surely not. He hadn't been pulled from the pit by an angel because he was some kind of hero, but he wasn't horrible ….No. He didn't torture souls for fun, and when he'd told Sam he had enjoyed it….Well, in a way he had. Why not?

People didn't generally go to Hell because they were good. Sure, some were there like Dean who had sold his soul, but he had to believe the majority deserved to be there. They'd done despicable things in life that earned them a one-way ticket to eternal damnation. But wasn't it still wrong to enjoy torturing even the souls that might deserve it?

Dean pushed away his doubts as he struggled under his new prison, but soon started having trouble breathing. His chest hurt, but it didn't take him long to realize he probably had at least some cracked ribs, too. It was getting harder to even lift his head off the ground.

"Sam!" he yelled because he couldn't think of anything else to do.

-----

The rain had stopped and the wind had died down, too. Sam could still hear thunder, but it was off in the distance and the lightening didn't light up the entire sky anymore. The night was still dark, but the flashlight wasn't quite as useless as it had been. He refused to wonder if he'd somehow passed his brother in the pitch blackness that had surrounded him. He'd have known if Dean was that close. Somehow, he would have sensed it.

The beam swept over something that caught Sam's attention. It took him a moment to find it again, and he approached it slowly. It was a piece of cloth tied to a sapling. His heart quickened when he recognized it as Dean's.

"Dean!" he yelled, and then again.

He knew that the material meant Dean had realized he'd lost his way. He was marking his path and would move systematically until he was either in a more familiar place, or had accidentally found his way back to the car. Sam looked around; trying to see things how his brother would have and then set off in the direction he was sure Dean would have gone.

-----

Dean wasn't sure that all the liquid he felt around him was rain water. He also thought some of the stickiness was coming from blood and not just the mud. It was so hard to keep his eyes open, and he didn't think they had been only a few moments before. Why was he so cold? He couldn't remember exactly what had happened….he'd been chasing something. Or had he been running from something?

Hell hounds.

The panic was sudden and unbearable. He started to shake and was unable to focus his thoughts. Dean saw a light from the corner of his eye. No, it was just an area that wasn't as black….He turned his head as best he could, but even that simple movement brought the pain crashing down. He felt as if his head was going to explode, and struggled to contain the nausea. His chest burned, and he felt himself slipping away.

Dean's eyes shot open; he was sure he'd heard his name.

"Sam!" he yelled as loud as he could, but he flinched at the weakness in his voice. He started to cough, and that brought on a fresh onslaught of pain.

"Shhh….save your strength."

Dean looked around frantically, not caring about the consequences. He recognized the voice, but it wasn't Sam….Who?

"Where are you? I can't see you!"

"You don't need to see me."

"I could use a little help here."

"Help is on the way."

"It's hard to breathe."

"And you're cold. I know."

The voice sounded compassionate, and Dean found himself being comforted by the soft murmuring as it continued. He didn't realize he'd stopped shivering or that the pain had started to subside.

-----

Sam saw a glow not too far in the distance, and wondered what could be causing it. He looked up at the sky, and saw the clouds weren't as thick now. He could even see the faint glitter of stars here and there. Turning his attention forward again, he felt compelled to investigate the light even though it would take him slightly off course.

-----

Dean felt a weight coming off his chest. He opened his eyes, but everything around him was blurry. He thought he felt hands on him, and was that Sam's voice now? He got dizzy as he felt himself floating, and he gave up trying to see. He couldn't fight it any more and he sunk into the blackness that had been trying to devour him.

-----

"Don't you give up on me," Sam said sternly as he settled Dean in the back of the Impala. "I carried you all the way back here, so the least you can do is hold on until I get you to help."

He covered Dean with blankets he'd gotten from the trunk, and as he was pulling away, thought he felt a tug on his jacket. He looked down to see Dean's hand gripping it. He curled his fingers around his brother's wrist. "I gotta drive now, okay, Dean? I'll be right in the front seat."

Dean's hand fell away, and Sam tucked it under a blanket. He quickly got behind the wheel of the car, and headed in the direction of the highway. There was a town not to far away, and he hoped there was a hospital in it.

Sam drove with one eye on the deserted road, and one on the rearview mirror that he'd pointed toward the back seat. Dean was pale, and even in the darkness of the woods, Sam had been able to tell he'd lost quite a bit of blood. His pupils had responded to the flashlight, but Sam figured he at least had a slight concussion. The limb had fallen across Dean's midsection, and no doubt he also had some injured ribs.

The mud had clung to Dean; it was caked in his short hair and flowed out of his ears when Sam carefully lifted him from the muck. Not too far away was more solid ground that would have been more comfortable, and might have even helped Dean get enough force to push the branch away himself.

When Sam saw Dean pinned under the tree, all thoughts about the glow disappeared. Driving toward town now, he wondered again what it had been.

-----

The sign outside said Hospital, but to Sam it looked more like a clinic. He didn't care, as long as it had what Dean needed. He left the car only long enough to rush inside the emergency room entrance and get the attention of the nurse behind the desk. She sent an orderly back outside with him, and met them as the gurney was pushed through the door.

In a flurry of activity, Dean was examined briefly, and then taken behind a partition. Sam answered a few questions….they'd been camping in the woods and a tree came down in the storm…and then was handed a clipboard of familiar forms to fill out. The nurse showed him to the small waiting room down the hall, and went back to her desk.

Sam wasn't sure how much time had passed when a doctor came to talk to him. He was expecting the worst, and nearly broke out into tears when he heard that Dean was going to be fine. He knew his highly emotional state was due as much to relief as the adrenaline that had allowed him to lift the limb off of Dean and carry him to the car.

"He's awake and asking for you," the doctor continued, seemingly oblivious to Sam's struggle to remain calm. He followed the doctor down the hallway, listening to him outline Dean's injuries. Before leaving Sam to go behind the partition, the doctor said he wanted Dean to stay put for a few hours. Sam knew Dean would object, but he agreed with the doctor.

-----

"You think it was Dad's voice?" Sam asked, shocked. Dean had been released late in the morning, and Sam had taken it a good sign that he was hungry. They were sitting in the back of a diner near the hospital, each with a stack of pancakes in front of him.

"I don't know, man," Dean said. "I was probably hallucinating."

"I found the strip of your shirt that you'd tied to that tree," Sam said. "I was headed in the direction I figured you'd gone, and I saw this glow. I was going to ignore it and keep looking for you, but it was like I was drawn to it."

"I saw that," Dean confirmed, sounding as if he'd just remembered. "Right before I started hearing the voice."

"Well, whatever it was, I'm glad it was there."

"Yeah," Dean said, his voice quiet. Sam saw his eyes dart away for a moment, then turn back to him. "I don't know how you carried me out of there, dude, but thanks."

"Don't mention it," Sam said with a grin. "Just don't expect me to do it again any time soon. You're heavier than you look."

"It's all muscle, Sasquatch," Dean said and pushed a forkful of pancake into his mouth. "And don't you forget it."

Sam chuckled and shook his head. "So, I guess we missed the window on the werewolf."

Dean shrugged. "We'll get the hairy sonofabitch next month. You game?"

"Absolutely," Sam said.

"Hey, Sam?" Dean asked a moment later. Sam recognized the timid tone, and looked at him. "You think it could have been Dad?"

"You know what he always used to say. Anything is possible."

"Yeah." Dean seemed to think about it for a moment before letting it go.

When he went back to his food, he ate with slightly less vigor than before, but he seemed more at peace. That was all Sam needed to see to convince him that their father had had a hand in him finding Dean. He said a silent thank you, then turned his attention back to breakfast.

Fin