A/N: This was written for my friend spuffyshipper's Schmoopy H/C Meme and my other friend moogsthewriter's prompt. How could I resist?
It was like a bad dream in slow motion. Dean being knocked down by the creature, Dean losing his balance and tumbling back towards the cliff, then Dean disappearing over the cliff's edge.
"DEAN!" Sam shouted even as he ran. He slid down to his knees near the cliff and dared to glance over. It was deep, too deep. Sam literally couldn't see the bottom, despite his flashlight.
But even as his heart began to stop, a familiar face appeared from the gloom, much higher up than the bottom. "Sammy, watch it! The edge-"
"I know, man," Sam said, his relief coming out in a shaky laugh. "I know. Just...can you get yourself up?"
He could hear Dean grunting over the pounding heartbeat in his ears. "No," he finally admitted. "Got my fingers wrapped around a jutted out rock, but the next one up I can't get my grip on. Dammit."
"I'll get you up, don't freak," Sam promised, already trying to inventory what they had on hand to get Dean up.
"Yeah, that's what I was worried about." Before Sam could frown, Dean added, "Just...be careful Sam, all right?"
Hanging for his dear life, literally, and Dean was still more worried about him. Sam rolled his eyes and started looking for the rope he was fairly certain they'd brought with them. The duffel was in arm's length for some reason that Sam didn't really care about at that point. Anything to get Dean up to safety. The thought of Dean falling, plummeting to the bottom, only twisted Sam's stomach into knots and pushed him to search deeper.
Finally, there. The rope. He yanked it out and began unwinding it. "Hold on," Sam called, taking the few steps back to the cliff's edge. Now where to tie it? He slid the flashlight around until finally swinging the light back towards the forest.
And caught sight of the creature they'd been hunting. The one that was now bearing down on him too fast to avoid.
Dean's frantic "Sammy!" echoed as Sam was slammed down to the ground with a cry. The thing's breath stank of rotted flesh and old blood, and Sam gagged as he tried to fight it off. The thing's weight made it too hard to fight, though. He couldn't do this on his own.
He made a quick decision and stopped fighting off the creature in order to wrap the rope around his waist. He barely had a double-knot before spindly fingers finally succeeded in wrapping around Sam's throat. Sam choked and gasped for air, but the thing's grasp was too strong. Desperately he threw the rope over the edge, but had no idea if it was anywhere near Dean. He gripped the strong limbs holding his throat down and tried to pull them off.
He could feel the rope pulling up suddenly, and the burn was welcome. Weight was pulling on it. Dean. He began to fight back with a renewed vigor, knowing that any second, Dean was going to lay righteous big brother fury into this thing. Sam managed to pry one limb off and tried to roll away, mindful of the cliff's edge.
The creature howled and grabbed him by the waist to pull him back, catching the rope just right and yanking it, and Sam, back towards it. Sam watched in slow motion for the second time that night as his worst nightmare was played out: the rope, still pulling heavy against him with weight, was loosened.
Then everything snapped back to speed, and the rope was pulled quickly in the direction of the cliff. "DEAN!" Sam screamed, twisting to try and catch the rope before it slid all the way and his brother tumbled down into the ravine forever.
Before the last bit of the rope disappeared over the edge Sam was twisted back, hands wrapping too firmly around his throat again. Sam choked and tried to fight back, but it wasn't fooling around this time. Sam could hear his blood roaring in his ears, felt his lungs burning, and fought desperately for air. Nothing he did helped, though, and his vision began to blacken.
The weight suddenly disappeared, leaving Sam coughing and gasping. He blinked through tears and heard the creature scream, then heard nothing. Everything was blurry, and the only thing his body was focused on was pulling in air.
Even as he turned towards the cliff, however, a familiar grasp pulled him to sitting. "-my?"
Sam turned back and found Dean. Dean, face dirty and bruised, but Dean. "You okay?" Dean asked, concern in his voice.
Sam reached out and pulled Dean in, fingers wrapped tight in his brother's jacket. "Woah, woah, easy-"
"Thought you were dead," Sam croaked. And he had. He could feel the rope sliding, burning across his skin, could practically picture Dean's look of surprise even as he tumbled back into the darkness. "Wha-?"
"Caught my grip on the upper cliff before the rope started sliding, though I almost tumbled back down," Dean admitted. "Got up to the top and found you. Let me see your throat at least, Sam."
"You hurt?" Sam managed to get out. He did let Dean maneuver them both until they were looking each other eye to eye. A couple of cuts, a bruise on his right cheek, dirt covering everything. But alive. Not smashed at the bottom of a long drop.
Dean gazed at him before giving a tiny grin. "Think you got the shorter end of the stick tonight, Sammy. C'mon; I wanna get you back to the motel. Your throat's gonna be a beautiful necklace in a couple of hours. And I don't know what else the damn thing did before I got up here."
Almost sent Dean over the cliff, but Sam forced himself to push it away. Dean was here, and Dean was fine. Dean was alive, and wasting any more time on Dean not being alive was pointless. Besides, Sam was fairly certain he'd get the repeats in his dreams that night.
For now, Dean was hauling him up and letting him lean, and Sam would do so until Dean decided the chick-flick-o-meter had filled up for the evening and shrugged him off. Way the evening had gone, that probably wouldn't be for awhile. That was perfectly okay with Sam.
"C'mon, Sammy," Dean murmured, and Sam hung onto his brother as they left the dead creature and the cliff behind.