EVERY BLUE MOON

By: Karen B.

Summary: Conclusion

Thank you so much for your time in reading!

Sunshine,

Karen

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Sam didn't know how long he'd been stuck, only knowing he was lethargic and hardly able to inch about. The rain had stopped, but that was of little comfort. He was almost completely immobile, helpless in the thick pudding-like substance. Only his right hand remained above the neck-deep muck, his left pinned against his side. The mud would never give him up, it would hold on to him until he was completely sucked under. All Sam could do was to try and keep his head above the sludge -- keep breathing. Hope the swamp monster, gator or anything else that was out there lurking in the night wouldn't see him or mistake him for a stepping- stone. Maybe he'd get lucky, maybe the bog wasn't more than six foot three inches deep. He still wouldn't get out of the cement on his own, but at least he would be left with an inch of breathing room.

Sam's senses were failing him. He was numb, his vision as fuzzy as his damaged head bobbing loosely on his neck. He couldn't even smell or taste the foul muck that kept making its way into his nose, mouth and ears. He could still hear, but the sounds were muted. There was a rustling in the brush, something coming, creeping closer, faster. A form boldly crashed out of shadows. Sam stared. The black blob saw him straight away, staring back, creeping slowly forward. Swamp monster? Mutant moss ? Snake man? Velociraptor?

Sam struggled not to move, he'd only sink deeper. He wasn't even breathing when he felt himself slip and sink further -- so much for the six foot, three inch theory.

"Gaaa," he moaned, unable to control the panic, sucking in a mouthful of mud.

"Sam?" The black blob stiffened.

"Dean?" Sam choked, desperate to wipe the mud out of his mouth with the back of his hand, arm, sleeve, anything, but there wasn't a square inch of him that wasn't coated with mire.

"Sammy!" Dean raced forward.

"D-d-don't," Sam's teeth chattered. "D-Dean, s…tay b-back," Sam yelled as loud as he could.

Dean slid to a stop only inches from the mud-pit. "What the f…"

"Swamp mud." Sam wiggled. "Trapped," he choked, sagging a little further down, chin- deep.

"Son of a bitch, Sam!" Dean's eyes were already hunting for something he could use to pull his brother out with. "Don't move!"

"You think," Sam sputtered, weakly. "You okay? Where were you?" he asked.

"Fine. Hunting for you. Found the weapon's bag and swamp boy's lair instead." Dean splashed over to the tree, pulling down a tangle of vines. "Lured and baited carp-head around by the nose -- ala Scooby Dooby Doo," he huffed, unraveling the rope-like vine.

"It's dead?"

"Of course." Dean yanked on the vine, pulling in opposite directions, testing the plants strength. "Painted a tree with mush brains -- brains. Ha!" Dean tossed the trailing foliage aside, obviously deciding the vine wasn't strong enough for the job. "Where were you anyway, Shaggy?" Dean gave a light chuckle, pulling his knife from its sheath hanging on his belt and began chopping away at a thick tree branch .

"Looking f' you," Sam gagged violently, struggling hard to avoid swallowing more mud.

"Dude!" Dean's gaze flew to meet his brothers. "Stay still! The more you move the further you're going to sink"

"No kid…" Sam's head lolled feebly from one side to the other, losing strength.

"Head up!" Dean barked, but Sam could hear the tremor of fear behind the order.

"D'n," Sam gulped, his head flopping to the left, mud creeping closer to his nose.

"Damn you, Sam!" Dean stopped sawing, quickly crouching down near the pit. "Work with me a little on this one, will you?" Dean's Eyes locked on his sinking brother. "Head up! Sam! Head up!"

Near unresponsive, Sam's head drooped further, mumbling something about 'gators'.

"Bro, look at me! Look at me, man." Dean clapped his hands together loudly. "Come on, bitch!" The last word was high-pitched, accentuated by a fist pounding into the shallow swampy water surrounding the pit.

Sam was confused, puffing and panting, and not responding to Dean's demands.

Frustrated, Dean searched the shallow sandy bottom. Finding a small stone, he reluctantly pitched the rock at his brother's lolling head.

Plunk.

"Sam!" Dean yelled, his heart telling him to jump in after his sinking brother -- his brain -- knowing better. "Sam!"

Sam's head remained down, the sticky substance flowing into his ear. Dean's voice was distant echo, like he'd been calling from inside a bottle. Sam just wanted to give in to sleep, blot out how cold and miserable he felt.

Reaching for another rock, Dean repeated the action.

"Sammy!" Dean roared like a tiger. "Damn you, listen!"

"What?" Sam winced.

"For the last time! Keep…your…head…up!" Dean said each word slow and loud.

Sam was a little sluggish to respond, but he pulled his head upright choking out ooze.

"Dude, you h-hit me with…with a r-rock," Sam complained.

"Yeah, well stop sucking down mud like it's going out of style." Dean stood. "Just stay with me, pal," he softened, going back to sawing at the branch. "Gonna get you out of there Sam, just gotta give me a minute."

"'K." Sam concentrated on keeping his neck muscles stiff -- sucking air in, pushing air out.

In.

Out.

In.

Out.

Head up.

In.

Out.

In.

Out.

Head up.

"Almost there Sam," Dean uttered, interrupting Sam's mantra. You sticking with me?"

"Uh, pretty much all I can d-do."

"So what happened?" Dean distracted.

"Told you."

"Tell me, again." Dean sawed faster, hearing Sam's strangled gulps for air.

"After the swamp monster attacked…" heavy panting. "…Must v' blacked out, you…you were gone."

"So you went walk about?" A distant owl hooted, another not far off, answering the call. Dean looked at Sam, the kid was going under. "You know to stay put, Sam. I told you to stay put."

Sam picked up on the double meaning. 'Staying put.' becoming his new mantra.

"Dean, couldn't just sit …" Sam gasped "… Do nothing."

Dean nodded his understanding.

Sam grew silent, listening to Dean hacking away at the tree. He could feel himself slowly sinking, the mud just below his nose. He tilted his head back further, staring upward to see the coming of daylight -- a hazy gray rolling back the dark starless sky

"D'n." Sam trembled, mud obstructing his voice and his breathing

"Head up, slim boy," Dean reminded his fading brother, keeping his tone calm. "You still good?"

Sam wanted to give Dean two thumbs up, but settled for a small grunt instead.

"Keep your eyes on me, pigpen!" Dean scolded. "Maybe after this we can pimp you out at one of those catty, hot-chick mud wrestling gigs," Dean gave a nervous chuckle.

Sam half-snorted, his lungs failing him.

Having sawed through the branch, Dean turned, and rushed to the edge of the pit. "Grab on." He outstretched his hand dangling the heavy limb toward Sam.

Sam struggled to lift his free hand, mouth and nose going under the mud, eyes going wide. There would be no more 'in and out/ stay put', mantra -- he hadn't even gotten to take in one last breath.

"Sam!" Dean braced himself, feet digging into the wet, sandy bottom . "You have to grab on. Now, buddy, now!"

Sam fought the mud, eyes held steady on Dean, holding back the scream that wanted to escape as he went down. Dean disappeared from his sight as the mud covered his eyes. The numb fingers of his right hand blindly reached out, scrambling for a hold of the branch.

S -----aaaaam!" He could hear Dean scream his name, but the rest of his brother's wild cries were too muffled -- Sam's ears too packed with mud.

The branch repeatedly brushed against Sam's fingers and his unfeeling digits finally latched on. Sam's head quickly jerked back up to the muddy surface. He gagged and sputtered, barely able to breathe through his mud-packed mouth -- his nostrils completely blocked.

"I got you! I got you, bro!" Dean savagely bellowed, hauling Sam up and across the ooze. As Sam neared, Dean tossed the stick aside. "Hold on." He reached to grab the back of Sam's hoodie dragging him belly down out of the bog.

"Ahh," Sam groaned, his body agonizingly heavy, sagging to the ground.

Dean rolled the mud-coated kid smoothly onto his back, the heels of his brother's boots still dipping into the bog. "Are you okay? Are you hurt anywhere? How'd you get that head wound?" Dean fired off questions, staring intently at his shivering brother.

Sam shook his head, unable to catch a big enough breath to answer.

"Sam." Strong hands gripped his shoulders and gave a little shake. "Sammy!" Dean called a little louder in panic.

No answer, only hacking. gagging and wheezing.

"That's it!" Dean swiftly hauled Sam the rest of the way out of the sinkhole.

"Gaaa," Sam croaked.

"Easy, now," Dean whispered breathlessly, gently propping Sam's back against a tree.

The current of shallow swamp water swooshed back and forth against Sam's legs, washing away some of the muck caked onto his jeans. He was gasping, wheezing, a weak whistling breaking through his clogged nostrils in a desperate attempt to draw a full breath. With the back of his hand, Sam sluggishly tried to swipe away the mud from his nose, but only succeeded in shoving the clumps further in.

"Ungg---guuhhh," Sam gagged, eyes rolling back, half slipping sideways.

"Come on!" Dean called harshly, holding Sam upright with one hand, quickly swiping the mud out of Sam's mouth and nostrils with the other.

"Gaw." Sam was cold, muddy, and wet, his chest heaving.

"Steady, Sam. Steady." Dean continued to clear away the mud, scooping handfuls of water and rinsing the clumps away. "You tell anyone I picked your nose, and you are so getting an ultra beat down."

Only half-alert, Sam rested motionless, but tense against the tree. Even though he knew to be free of the mud pit, he couldn't seem to move, only his eyes fluttered open and shut, dimly aware of Dean compassionately swiping the mud from his airways.

"Breathe, little brother, just breathe. You're okay. You're safe."

Dean's tending eased the strain, and with a few desperate breaths Sam relaxed further back against the tree.

Sam shook, muttering something Dean couldn't understand.

"You hurt anywhere else?" Dean's hands roamed over Sam's body, coming across the wound on his leg.

"Ahhh." Sam shied away. "M' l'g."

Dean frowned, ripping at the soiled material to find the bloody bite.

"What the hell?"

"Tooth mark." Sam tried to keep his voice neutral.

"Dude, that tooth mark is awful close to your…" Dean paused. "…Your…"

Sam took in a few cleansing breaths looking down.

"Your dingle," Dean confirmed, now checking out the bloodied bump on Sam's head.

"My wha'!" Sam pulled away from Dean's touch.

"You know, Sam …" Dean let his hand fall away, satisfied the head wound wasn't going to cause more than a giant sized headache. "It's what you called… your 'thingy' when you were six."

"Thingy, D'n?" Sam sucked in a breath, some of the hazy fog leaving his brain.

"Yeah." Dean answered. "You know, Sam." He shrugged. "Your thingy." Dean's full attention going back to Sam's leg.

"For reasons…I cannot begin to…to understand…" Sam took in a deeper breath. "…Why the hell would you..." gasp... "Remember that?"

"It was cute." Dean continued tenderly probing the bite.

"Cute," Sam whined. "Van Damn and Steven Seagal would be awful disappointed in you…" A pause to breathe. "…sissy word, Dean," Sam coughed.

"Whatever, man," Dean groused, noting that Sam's leg had stopped bleeding probably due to the cold mudpack his brother had been sucked into.

The wound, although jagged, and fairly deep, didn't look life-threatening. Unless… Dean briefly wondered if alligators carried rabies, herpes, or other harmful infections.

"How's it look?" Sam broke the silence.

"What?" Dean asked, distracted by what appeared to be a chip of ivory in Sam's leg.

"My leg, stupid. Is it bad?"

"Bad enough," Dean offered, giving a wince of sympathy when Sam didn't give one of his own as he picked the tooth out. "You feel that?" he asked.

"No, it's numb." Sam tried deflecting Dean's concern, even though his leg had actually started to thaw and throb.

"Huh." Dean nodded, dragging the weapon's pack over and pulling out a piece of cloth ever so gently raising Sam's leg, and tying the injury off. The first aid wasn't much, but it would have to do. "I see that snapper, it's going belly up," Dean growled, surveying the area with his eyes only.

"It's getting light out. Gators are pretty much nocturnal," Sam grimaced.

"You geeking across the net again?" Dean raised a brow.

"Sci-fi channel -- gator flick," Sam admitted watching Dean continue his nursing fest. "Dean. Come on, man. You going to paw me to death?" Sam huffed out a breath drawing another quickly in. "Or get us the hell out of here 'case ... wrong about ...the 'nocturnal' thing...Tick-Tock get's a case of the munchies."

Dean glanced up, a dumbfounded look crossing his face.

"Captain hook," Sam explained. Dean cocked his head still not getting it. "The gator, Dean."

"Think you can stand, Disney dork?" Dean causally asked gripping Sam's forearms as the kid struggled to push back up to his feet.

"Stand. Walk. Crawl, fly," Sam groaned, flopping back toward the ground.

"Whoa there, try again." Dean offered more support.

"Anything…t' get out of here." Sam stood, teetering and hanging limp in his brother's arms.

Dean looked at Sam for a long time, wiping more goo off his face. "Dude, you're like one hundred and thirty pounds of tall, wet and clumsy." Sam wasn't just tall, wet and clumsy -- he was solid as a rock." Too many zucchini burgers, Sammy," Dean complained struggling to hold onto his charge.

"D…" Sam coughed raggedly.

"You know this damsel in distress act is getting old, princess."

"More like…a wet n-noodle act," Sam said, his entire body wilting heavily against Dean.

"Just need you to walk," Dean simply said, moving them awkwardly along. Sam tried to strengthen his wobbly knees, but they kept threatening to buckle, his head drooping. "Sam! Hey! " Dean struggled to sustain his brother's weight. "Come on. Need a little help here," Dean panted, watching every looming shadow. Sam's body was loosing the battle with exhaustion, slouching further into Dean. "Come on, Sam -- march!"

Sam lifted his head at the military command their dad always used, knowing Dean wouldn't be able to easily carry him out of the swamp.

Favoring his right leg, Sam's determined steps shuffled him along.

"You got it, Sam," Dean encouraged.

"Wh-what…" Sam's teeth chattered against the cold that cut into his skin like razor blades. He needed to talk, distract himself from his throbbing head, and burning leg, or he'd drag them both into the muck. "What did you c-call your…you know ... ? " Sam side-glanced at Dean, zeroing in on the first subject that popped into his hazy mind.

Dean made a crazy face, causally poking an index finger into his temple and twisting.

"P--p--please," Sam muttered, trying hard to keep moving. "N- n-not buying into th-that 'Men In Black' memory-zapper cr--crap. I know you remember… s-so…"

"So, I'm sick of the water, Sam. Wish we had a pogo stick," Dean snorted, evading the subject.

"Whatever." Sam's gaze shifted straight ahead, black dots sending him swaying off balance.

"Hey, hey!" Dean tensed, muscles rippling across his back -- supporting Sam even more. "Where you going…you okay?"

"I'm c-c-cool." Sam trembled, the chills crawling up and down his spine.

"The coolest." Dean rubbed one hand up and down Sam's arm.

"Least I'm all in-in one p-piece." Sam blinked away the spots that were doing a slow waltz before his eyes.

"Come on, chocolate covered, Sasquatch. Let's get you out of here."

Sam stumbled blindly along, Dean's strong hands clutching him firmly, guiding the way.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Hours melted away, and sometime later Sam found he was no longer walking through the forested wetlands, but being eased inside the shelter of the Impala.

"We made it?" Sam asked, his voice barely a whisper.

"Course."

Sam leaned his head back and closed his eyes in exhaustion, happy to be off his feet. The weight of Dean's jacket was draped over him, shaky fingers brushing mud-matted hair away from his eyes. A reassuring squeeze to his shoulder, just before the passenger door creaked shut.

Lying back quietly against the seat, Sam could hear Dean cursing, key's jingling, the trunk popping open, weapon's meticulously placed back to their proper spots. And Dean thought Sam was OCD.

The driver side door finally groaned, the seat dipped, and the weight of a blanket was added on top the jacket. Sam opened his eyes, fighting to keep contact with Dean's -- but failing as they fell shut.

"Just sleep." The palm of Dean's hand patted his shoulder "You're fine."

Lips slightly open, chest rising and falling slowly, Sam inched further down into the seat.

"Dean," Sam said in a sleepy voice, not bothering to open his eyes.

"Huh?" Dean responded softly.

"Seriously, man." He raised his hand to swipe the tickle from his nose. "Tell me what you called your…" Sam's hand fell limp to his side, instead leaning across the seat into Dean.

"My thingy?" Dean filled in the blank, reaching over to pull his fatigued brother carefully to him. "Forget it, Sammy boy…. no can tell."

Sam's eyes fluttered, ducking his head and rubbing his nose against Dean's shirt.

"Gross, Sam."

"Sorry." Sam's breathing turned shallow, his trembling lessening, sleep taking its toll.

"Sam?" Dean tapped his brother lightly on the cheek. "Sam, you sleeping?" Gingerly taking Sam's wrist he checked his pulse. Slow, steady, strong. Dean smiled, setting Sam's relaxed hand down. "Rest easy, little brother, big brother's here." Dean took a moment to tenderly scratch his brother's nose and brush the drying mud off Sam's parted lips.

Sam shifted, a soft gasp sweeping across Dean's neck.

It was a dark and stormy night.

No.

It was a dark and foggy night.

No.

It was a rainy, dark, foggy, crappy night.

Still, no.

Every blue moon, Dean let a chick-flick moment slip out under his radar, reminding Sam of how much he was truly loved.

'Yhatzee.'

"Maverick," Dean whispered, reaching forward to put the key in the ignition.

"You need help," Sam slurred, eyes closed, a smile curving his lips.

"Dude, you suck! You're supposed to be sleeping." Dean angrily turned the engine over, hiking the heater up, tires squealing as he pulled out onto the road.

"Only you would think your 'thingy' is one of a kind, Dean," Sam laughed, snuggling closer to Dean.

"I. Eh. You. Come on!" Dean grumbled under his breath, fidgeting behind the wheel, unable to find a good enough comeback, he settled for shutting up.

Another small rumble of laughter filled Sam's chest and he peaked open one eye.

"Dean, you're blushing."

"Am not."

"You are," Sam giggled.

"No, Sam. I'm not." Dean's tone turning rough and business like.

"Yes, Dean. You are."

"Sam!"

"Dean!"

"Sam!"

"Dean!"

"Dingle, jerk."

"Maverick, bitch.

"Whatever," spoken in unison.

The end.