A/N: Hey folks! *hides behind my notebook*
Okay, I know I kept you waiting far too long and I'm really really sorry for that. I hope the nineteen pages will make up for it. :)
I'm graduating from Physical Therapy School this summer and most of my time is spend studying or doing practice work. So just be warned, the next update will take some time as well… (Please don't hate or kill me for that…. …. …. *looks innocently at the end*) I think there are at least two or three more chapters to go before the story is finished.
Anyway, I want to thank every one of you. I'm still speechless about all your support and patience with me and my ridiculously long update-times. It means so much to me! Thank you!
This time a fair bunch of awesome people helped me with this chapter – As always my hugest thanks to Enkidu07 for beta'ing this chapter not once but twice and her wonderful advices and thank you to TheKritty for being there for me all the way :). Also a special thanks to Soncnica for helping me with a certain scene even when she's not really a Brotherhood fan and last but not least huge huge thanks to Ridley for her SOS-beta on another certain scene and for her believe in this story. *huggles you all*
Just a little warning – this chapter is really intense and emotional.
The memory about the constellations is taken from Ridley's story In Victus. If you haven't read it yet I really suggest you should check it out. :)
Disclaimer: See Chapter 1
Okay and now have fun reading! :)
Previously:"Easy. Take it easy." Dean soothed. His stomach clenched as he felt Caleb's grip suddenly relax. "It's going to be okay." He rested a comforting hand on the psychic's head, brushing some strands away from Caleb's sweaty forehead.
Dean's head shot up at the sudden rumble of a car. He would recognize that tone everywhere. Help was finally here.
A knight is sworn to valor!
His heart knows only virtue.
His blade defends the helpless.
His might upholds the weak.
His word speaks only truth.
His wrath undoes the wicked!
"Caleb?" Mac placed a hand on his son's cheek, the worried look on his face deepened. His gray eyes met John's. "He has a high fever."
Caleb stirred. His brow furrowed in pain, eyes fluttering. "Dad?" The one word barely more than a hoarse whisper.
"I'm here." Mac moved his hand to Caleb's forehead, brushing sweat-soaked strands away before checking his pulse.
John's angry gaze shifted from Caleb's bed back to his sons. Dean knew the look – John was fuming. They were in for a major dress down.
"What the hell were you thinking?" The Knight roared, glancing at Dean. "Wait, that's right, you probably weren't thinking at all. Dean, I gave you an order. One simple order. Do you even know how much danger you placed your brother in? You were supposed to be watching out for Sam, not to purposely dragging him into harm's way. Not to mention the whole outcome of this fucking hunt. I thought I taught you better than this. You're disappointing me, Dean."
"I'm sorry, Sir." Dean didn't meet his father's eyes. There was no point in arguing with his Dad when he was in a mood like that. And John was right, he had screwed up. Big time.
The hunt was a bad idea, but if he hadn't insisted on coming Caleb could still be out there in the woods. Alone and injured or worse…
Panic once again seized through him as his thoughts drifted back to the forgotten arrow.
Dean felt Sam tense beside him, preparing for another argument. Arguing seemed to be second nature to the kid lately. "Dad–"
"Don't even start, Sam. You don't have a say in this." John growled, cutting his youngest protests short.
Dean suppressed a sigh and placed a hand on his brother's arm, slightly shaking his head. They didn't need another fight between Sam and his Dad right now. John was in a bad enough mood already.
He was tired of all the fighting; tired of being always caught in the middle. "Sam, don't." Dean hissed softly.
"Johnny, 's not their fault. I asked them … to help me." Caleb interjected, his voice strained. But it had the exact effect Dean knew Caleb was counting on – it focused The Knight's full wrath on him. "Thought it would be … an easy in an' out with the three of us. Getting shot … was definitely not … on my list. And if it weren't for them … I p-probably would still … be out there." Caleb tried to sit up but a crippling wave of pain stopped his movement. "Fuck." He panted through clenched teeth.
"Take it easy, son." Mac shot a heated look Winchester's way. "Jonathan, this is not the time–"
"It was a … bad idea. I should have… known …." The psychic shifted, trying to make it once again into a sitting position, one hand pressed on the wound in his side.
"Damn straight you should have known. I trusted you with my boys." John snarled, glancing from Dean back to Caleb. "I mean a fucking Wendigo hunt? After everything that had happened last time you had nothing else to do than just take my boys with you?" His voice grew louder, angrier. "Did you even research this hunt at all?"
"John…" A defiant look crossed Reaves's pale features.
"Dad, both Damien and Sammy researched it. At the first look the Wendigo-theory fit." Dean stepped in, moving closer to Caleb's bed.
They had been sure that Boone was right about the Wendigo. A rookie mistake. One of the first rules John had ingrained into their brains was to never go blind into a hunt. To always check all the facts for yourself. History apparently repeated itself again and again.
"John –" Caleb started again but his mentor interrupted him.
"I'm not done yet." John growled, ignoring the angry glare Mac shot in his direction. "You're smarter than this and I thought I could trust you to keep my boys safe. But no, you had to drag them out into the woods and look what happened." He raked a hand through his dark hair. "Dragging Dean along is bad as it is but to take Sammy with you on a fucking Wendigo hunt? That's just dumb and reckless."
John's words cut deep. Dean could see the hurt look flash in Caleb's glassy gold eyes.
"That's not true." Sam defended Caleb fiercely.
"Dad, Caleb didn't drag us into the woods. I told him we would come." Dean tried to explain though he left out the part about Sammy almost blackmailing them if they didn't let him come too. "He protected us when the thing attacked." His eyes briefly met Caleb's.
"Enough! All of you." Mac snapped, glaring at Winchester. "This hunt went south, alright, but you can't tell me that all of your hunts were perfect, John. What's done is done so we better concentrate on fixing things. I'm not putting my son's health in jeopardy because of you needing to make a point."
"John, I'm sorry." Caleb mumbled, closing his eyes in exhaustion. Pain was evident on his pale face, his breathing harsh and uneven.
"Easy." Mac said gently, squeezing his son's hand. The concerned frown deepened.
John's face softened. Blowing out a long breath he added "Alright." He ran a hand over his beard and through his hair, his gaze going back to Reaves. "Mac is right. The sooner we find this thing the better."
"What?" Caleb panted, trying desperately to act normal. "You … agreeing that you … were wrong?" He smirked faintly.
"Don't push your luck, Junior." John said without heat.
A new searing wave of pain ripped through Caleb. With a suppressed moan he curled to his side, one hand fisting in the sheets, knees drawn up high to his chest.
Mac and Dean called out in unison. Dean watched The Scholar placing a hand on Caleb's back, rubbing small comforting circles.
Dean passed John and crouched down next to his best friend. "Easy, just breathe through it."
After what seemed like a small eternity but couldn't be more than a few minutes Caleb's ragged gasps calmed slightly, his tensed muscles relaxing some. Cautiously he slowly rolled back onto his back, fighting hard to keep his eyes open, his breathing even.
"We'll get you the antidote." John said, giving his oldest son a pointed look. "Just hang in there, Kiddo."He stepped next to Dean who had taken a seat on the edge of the bed near Reaves's head.
"Son, I need to check the wound."
"I was afraid … you would say … that." The psychic grinned, though it was a bad imitation of his usual cockiness.
Mackland squeezed Caleb's arm in sympathy before lifting his son's damp t-shirt. He then carefully removed the blood stained dressing that was covering the arrow wound.
John sucked in a sharp breath. "Fuck."
Dark, almost black looking tendrils blossomed around the angry looking wound, zigzagging in every direction and slowly creeping up higher.
"Mac, you know we have to clean that again." John said quietly.
The seriousness in his Dad's voice made Dean's heart beat faster. He swallowed thickly. Not again. God please not again.
Mac sighed, rubbing a finger over his brow. He didn't look happy. "I know."
"What, why?" Sam asked shocked, sounding more like the five-year-old toddler than the fifteen-year-old teenager he was. "But it's hurting him."
"Samuel, we need to slow down the spreading of the poison. You know that." The Scholar explained patiently, riffling through his medical bag on the floor.
"Can't you at least knock him out before you start cleaning the wound again?" Dean lifted his eyes from Caleb, glancing pleadingly to John and Mac.
Caleb was already hurting and Dean so not wanted a repetition of the earlier events.
"Dean we cannot risk a reaction of the poison to the meds." John reasoned surprisingly calm. He took the small, ornate silver flask Mackland was handing him, his fingers tightening around the metal.
Dean didn't miss the motion. Beneath all the anger and roaring the younger hunter could see worry written all over John's face.
"Deuce … stop the girly behavior... Both of you." Caleb's fever bright golden eyes shifted to Sam before eventually focusing back on Dean. "I'll be fine. I survived the first round of … holy water … Second will be … piece of cake." Though the confident tone was betrayed by the weak and pained quality of Reaves's voice.
The reaction of the holy water was worse than the first time. There was only so much pain a body could take and Caleb was apparently reaching his breaking point.
"It's going to be okay, son." Mac had picked up Dean's quiet mantra of reassuring words, his voice soothing. Though the worried look on the Scholar's face betrayed the calmness of his words.
Ames tightened his hold on the younger man, pressing him onto the mattress as spasms of pain ripped through him, making him cry out in agony.
"It's alright. It's almost over. Easy."
"S-stop …. pl's." Caleb whimpered, his back arching off the bed, head thrown back into the pillow, his fingers fisted in the thick material of the blanket. He fought against the restraining hands that kept him down.
Dean's thoughts were spinning. He felt the absurd need to protect his best friend. To stop the men who were hurting him, even though he knew that in the end it would help Caleb. At least for a little while. But to hear the older hunter whimper in pain, begging for John and Mac to stop was just too much.
Reaves wasn't helpless and vulnerable. Not like this. Sure, they had their dreaded chick-flick moments when needed but this right now was so out of character, it was so wrong.
Dean felt Sam's fingers tightening their hold on the fabric of his flannel shirt. It was something his brother hadn't done in a very long time – seeking comfort that obviously.
Panicked, huge brown eyes locked with Dean's, searching for reassurance, a promise, that they would fix this; that Caleb would be alright. His brother looked so much younger than his fifteen years right now. Lost and shaken.
The older Winchester swallowed thickly, his big-brother-instincts working on overdrive. Come on man get a grip for fuck's sake. You need to do something.
He moved a little closer to Sam, putting an arm around his brother's shoulders.
It's gonna be alright. He'll pull through this, you'll see. The words remained unsaid, though Dean knew that Sammy had understood them nevertheless.
The younger boy nodded, leaning slightly into Dean.
A choked outcry brought Dean's attention back to the psychic. His heart pounded in his throat, his thoughts going back to the arrow. All of this could have been avoided, if he had only thought about the damn thing earlier…
New white-hot acid shot through Caleb's body, as John again dosed the sizzling and foaming wound with holy water.
"Damn it Caleb, breathe!" John barked loudly, helping Mac to hold down the struggling psychic.
Caleb screamed. His face screwed up in pain, eyes clenched shut tightly, his breath coming out in fast, shallow gasps. Sweat bathed his brow, gluing strands of dark hair to it.
"Nugh… n-no…" Caleb choked. He fought against Mackland's hands. His breathing too ragged and quick, chest heaving under the strain.
"Fuck, Caleb, you need to slow down," Dean flinched at the harsh tone of his Dad's voice.
John gripped the younger man's chin, forcing Caleb to look at him, waiting until the younger man's glassy eyes eventually focused. "Slow down, you're starting to hyperventilate."
"You need to relax, breathe through the pain." Mac coaxed, his voice soft and soothingly. "In and out, just like me."
Caleb once again fought against his restraints, not hearing his father or John.
"Caleb, calm down!" Winchester ordered sharply.
"Stop. Pl's… stop…" Reaves's begged shakily, his back arching off the mattress as a new wave of agony pulled him under again.
Dean's breath got caught in his throat. He could feel his heart beating painfully fast inside his chest, a ringing got louder in his ears.
Suddenly the room felt too small and cramped. He couldn't breathe. It was too hot. He needed air…
He barely heard Sam's surprised call for him as he bolted out of the door.
It was still dark outside but lighter colors of a gray and rainy morning started to bleed into the pitch-black of night. A cold wind brought rain and fallen leaves with it. It made Dean shiver but it helped clear his mind.
He leaned against the brick wall of the motel just outside their room, fighting to calm his quick breathing. His thoughts were still racing. If he had only thought about the fucking arrow…
Dean's legs gave out under him and he slowly slid down the wall until he was sitting on the cold ground, knees drawn up close to his chest, head resting back against the cool stones.
He stared up into the clouded sky, his breath forming small clouds in front of his mouth.
An old memory surfaced from all the other tumbling thoughts.
"Show me my constellation, Dean."
"Right there, little brother. Draco the dragon."
"Where's your favorite?"
"There's my favorite, Sammy. Orion."
"Why's he your favorite?"
"Because Pastor Jim says he watches over all hunters. He keeps our family safe."
"Apparently not," Dean mumbled darkly. He closed his eyes, fighting off another shiver. The pounding in his head had worsened.
The front door opened and closed. A moment later Dean felt Sam sitting down next to him, mirroring his position, their shoulders touching.
The hand on his forehead came unexpected. It startled him.
"What the fuck?" Dean blinked, batting the hand away.
"Dean, you're burning up." Sam's eyes were huge, worry clearly written all over his face.
"I'm fine." He sat up a little straighter, ignoring the throbbing in his left arm.
"No, you're not." Sam shook his head, his bangs falling into his eyes. Dean expected one of Sam's stubborn arguments but there was only earnest concern in the teen's eyes. "Dean what's wrong?"
The older Winchester winced at the fearful tone in his brother's voice. "Nothing is wrong. Probably just caught the sniffles or something out in the woods. I mean after all that rain it's not such a surprise." He shrugged, ignoring the slight spike of pain in his arm.
"You need to tell Dad."
"Hell no!" Dean snapped. "And you are not telling him either."
"What?" An incredulous look crossed the fifteen-year-old's face. "You need to tell him. He can't take you on a hunt when you're sick."
"For fuck's sake Sam, I'm fine!" Dean emphasized angrily. They needed to focus on Reaves not him. "And the hell you'll tell Dad." He stood, ignoring the slight wave of dizziness. The poison slowly started to take its toll on his body. "I know what I'm doing."
"Dean –" Sam crossed the small distance his brother had put between the two of them. He'd said the wrong thing, in the wrong way. Treading around Dean when he was scared or hurt was like a minefield.
"No Sam, don't Dean me." The older Winchester exhaled, raking a hand through his short hair. The turmoil inside of him was back again. The weight around his chest tightened, making it almost impossible to breathe. "Promise me, Sammy. Keep your mouth shut."
"But you can't go –" Sam's protest was cut short by his brother.
"Damn it, Sam, I'm fucking responsible for this. I need to make it right." Dean yelled. He welcomed the wave of anger. It was a better feeling then the gut-clenching fear he had felt the whole night.
"Dean, that's crap. How could you possibly be responsible for this?" Sam shot back, ignoring Dean's angry glare.
The middle Winchester laughed humorlessly, his voice sharp. "You want to know why, Sam? You really want to know?" His fingers curled into fists. "Because I forgot the fucking arrow, Sam. The fucking arrow that was probably our best shot of getting an antidote for this shit." Dean ran a hand over his mouth, his anger dimming. "And if Damien's condition is worsening even more than..."
"What arrow are you talking –" Sam looked confused for a second before understanding flashed in the teen's eyes. "Shit, the arrow." A mix of emotions crossed his face. "But Dean, neither of us thought about it."
"Yeah well, but after Caleb was down I was hunter in charge. I should have thought about it."
"You were busy getting us out of there in one piece."
"Great, what good does it do when Damien is still in grave danger? I screwed up – end of story." Dean suddenly felt tired, the rage-induced adrenalin fading. "Now I need to fix this."
"You are not alone in this, Dean." Sam inched closer to his brother, worry and fear coloring his voice. "And you really think Caleb would want you to risk your life like this? What if you get hurt too?"
Dean eyed his brother for a long moment, trying to not see this from Sam's point of view.
"Whatever," he finally said, moving past the teen and towards the door. "And not a word to Dad. I mean it, Sam."
John watched Mackland slump down on one of the two chairs in the small kitchenette, rubbing a hand over his eyes. The Knight didn't miss the slight tremble in the other man's hand.
Winchester took another gulp from the steaming cup in his hand, welcoming the burning of the Whiskey as it ran down his throat. Ames wasn't the only one who was a little shaken.
To clean the wound with holy water had been necessary but he hadn't expected the poison to react that strong, to cause that much pain. Maybe they should have knocked out the kid after all. Risking a reaction to the meds now seemed the lesser of two evils.
John moved away from the sink. "Here," He handed a second cup of Irish coffee that was high on the Whiskey and low on actual coffee to Mac.
The Scholar accepted the steaming cup with a nod but didn't drink it. He stared at the dark liquid for a moment, as if it would hold all the answers before gazing up at John.
It had been a long time since Winchester had seen Mac this terrified, though he could relate. If it had been one of his sons lying there poisoned and in so much pain… Hell, Caleb was like his son.
John glanced to the closed frontdoor, wondering if his boys were alright. It wasn't normal for Dean to just bolt out of a room, that was more Sam's thing lately, though under these circumstances he would let it go.
A memory of a bad Wendigo hunt two years ago trickled at the back of his mind. At that time they had been sure they had lost Caleb for good.
The tight knot of dread inside his stomach clenched painfully. He didn't even want to think about the possible outcomes of this hunt. He could have lost his boy. They could have lost all three of them.
"What in god's name is this, Jonathan?" Mac raked a hand through his hair, his eyes moving from John to his son's unconscious form on the bed.
"I don't know." John answered honestly, though he was determined to find out what did this to Caleb and how he could kill it. He met Mac's gray eyes. "But we will find it, get an antidote." He downed the rest of the hot brew and stepped next to his friend, squeezing Ames's shoulder in a short reassuring manner.
"How is he?" John nodded in Caleb's direction. "Any reaction to the meds yet?"
He couldn't blame Mackland for eventually breaking down and giving Reaves something for the pain. Hell, he had even sent a silent prayer to whoever was listening when Caleb finally succumbed to the medication. Hearing the young man cry out in pain and pleading for them to stop had felt like a well placed sucker-punch to the stomach.
Mac shook his head, pinching the bridge of his nose with thumb and forefinger. "Not really, though I kept the dose low. His breathing is already compromised, a higher dose of Morphine could trigger respiratory distress, but it takes the edge off it." He looked up, his worried gaze meeting John's. "If his condition gets any worse we need to take him to a hospital. His vitals are all over the place and he already has a fever over 103. We don't even know what hidden damage the arrow might have caused." Mac sighed. "And to be honest, I'm not sure if the medication will help much with the poison still coursing through his system."
The Knight nodded, running a hand over his beard and through his hair, slightly wincing at the sting from a cut just above his hairline from their earlier encounter with the Shtriga.
Whatever they did they needed to do it fast. They were working on borrowed time. "We need to act fast."
"Yes, we do." Mac's gaze went back to Caleb, his gray eyes dark with concern.
Winchester blew out a long breath, his hand brushing over a few papers with Sam's neat handwriting on it. "But first we need some information. One blind hunt is more than enough."
And that's exactly what this rescue operation will be too – a blind hunt. Damn.
John trusted Sam's researching skills, but right now time was the essence and he couldn't wait until they had some proved answers.
The opening of the door made both hunters look up.
"It's about time." John's words were harsher than he meant them to be. He knew this had to be hard on his sons, especially on Dean but there was no time for sugarcoating things. "Dean, we're heading out as soon as it gets a bit lighter outside. I want you to show me where you were attacked, maybe we can find some clues of what this thing is in the surrounding area. Might find the arrow."
The guilty look on Dean's face deepened, but he straightened, wincing slightly as a sharp cramp shot through his left arm. "Yes, Sir."
Mac sent a disapproval side-glance in John's direction, before eyeing the middle Winchester closely. "Dean, are you alright?" A worried frown appeared on his brow. He raised a hand to Dean's face but the nineteen-year-old dodged it.
"I'm fine, Mac, don't worry. I'm just happy when I can put a bullet through that thing's head and Damien's on the mend." Dean grinned reassuringly, running a hand through his short hair.
Sam opened his mouth to speak but one glance of Dean and he closed it again, his face set in a stubborn, indignant expression.
Mackland still looked skeptical, torn between his concern for Dean and his need to help Caleb. "Are you sure, Dean? You look pale."
John had also noticed Dean's pale complexion and tensed posture and the way his sons were acting was kind of a dead giveaway. Something was off.
He swore silently, his patience was really running thin. "Dean," John trained hard eyes on his son. "I want you to look me in the eye and tell me that you are fine. And I want an honest answer. This hunt is already a mess, we don't need more people down, you understand me?" The order was clear in his tone and words.
Dean nodded, meeting his father's dark stormy gaze with earnest. " I know that I've screwed up and I just want to fix things, help Damien. So can we please focus back on the important stuff and skip the whole 'how-I-feel-crap?"
"Fine, then tell me what exactly happened out there?" John ignored the twin glares that were pointed at him. He would endure Mackland's speech about parental skills later after they had saved Reaves's ass.
"We thought that we were hunting a Wendigo. Boone had called Damien, told him about –" Dean started to explain, his hand moving unconsciously over his left arm.
"Yeah, Boone told Caleb about the hunt, I know, Jim already told us. Get to the part about the attack." John interrupted Dean shortly. He might not be father of the year anytime soon but then again he wasn't The Knight for nothing.
His boys exchanged a glance. "We were still on our way to the caves we had found in that area, when Damien suddenly heard something."
"Or someone," Sam added, slightly losing the scowl on his face. "Caleb said something about that whatever-it-is felt kind of human but evil."
The Knight frowned. "Human?" He asked, looking at Mac who was mirroring his confused expression.
"Well, whatever it is, it's smart enough to use bow and poisonous arrows." Dean shrugged. "Anyway, Caleb made us seek cover, said, that we're not hunting a Wendigo. Whatever he sensed, it didn't seem good."
"The arrow came out of nowhere." Sam took over, his fingers flying over his notes on the table, searching for something. "We'd just reached a small clearing but were surrounded by bushes – the perfect hiding place for that thing."
"We shot at it, scared it away. Later it tried to attack us again, I winged it with silver ammo but it could flee." Dean exhaled slowly, watching Sam move papers back and forth. "I'm not sure if silver can kill it but at least it'll hurt it." He looked at Mac, unsure about his next words. "I removed the arrow, patched up the wound as good as possible. We didn't know right then that it was poisoned, the symptoms showed later on our way back. I'm sorry, Mac."
John knew for what Dean was apologizing.
He bit back a sharp comment, this whole topic was far from over that was for sure, but tossing blame back and forth now was not getting them closer to an antidote either.
"There is absolutely nothing to be sorry for, Dean." Ames assured calmly but emphatically, squeezing the younger hunter's arm. "You got everyone out of there and to safety. You did nothing wrong." He glanced at his son. Caleb was moving restlessly again. "I'm sure Caleb expected nothing different from you."
John followed Mackland's gaze, feeling the sucker-punch to his stomach again at the sight of Caleb's sick form. "We're burning daylight!" He focused back on his friend. "So what do you think – maybe a Shifter or a Revenant?"
"I don't know, but we need more evidence about the actual missings, more information." Mackland gazed at Sam who finally seemed to have found what he was looking for.
"Maybe I can help with that." Sam started, holding up a slightly crumpled sheet of paper. "After we got back I started to go through all the research again. It's definitely not a Wendigo but there is a pattern nevertheless."
"What kind of pattern?" Mac asked, eyeing the sheet with interest.
"It's not much," Sam glanced at Dean, who had taken John's abandoned place at the sink, bending and flexing his fingers. "But I went over all the missings again and something seemed off with the periods of time."
"What do you mean?" John asked, studying Sam who was now completely in researching-mode.
"Wendigos hibernate, right? They collect their prey and then sleep for the next couple of decades before they need to feed again."
"That's what Julian and Maxim wrote in their journals." Mac agreed, taking a sip from the bitter liquid in his hand, his eyes getting a faraway look. "It was the reason why we found Caleb still alive two years ago."
John suppressed a shudder but nodded in agreement, refilling his own cup with coffee. "But what is your point, Sam?"
"Look," The fifteen-year-old pointed at the list of names and dates. "Whatever this thing is, it's not hibernating. I checked the dates again – all of these people went missing over short periods of time. But there is still a pattern here. Over the last two years, two or three people went missing a month, most of them hikers, people no one would miss for a while."
"Because they were not locals." Mackland concluded. "Samuel, this is really good work."
The teen smiled though it didn't reach his eyes. "Maybe, but it's not getting us closer to a solution of what we are dealing with."
"You said people went missing for the last two years, did they find any bodies?" John asked, sending a quick glance to Dean who had been quiet the whole time, frowning.
"No, that's why we first thought that we were dealing with a Wendigo." Dean said, pushing away from the sink and coming to a stand next to his dad. "But like I said, even if it's not a Wendigo it has to be something that's smart enough to use bow and arrow."
"About the poison – Caleb suspected that this was some kind of spellwork and not just a simple poison." Sam pointed out, gazing to the psychic who was mumbling something in his sleep.
"If that is true we need to find this thing alive and find out what it used on the arrow. Maybe Missouri or Joshua can counteract it." Something close to panic flashed in Ames's eyes.
"N-no…" Caleb groaned, his thrashing more anxiously, a hand clawing weakly at his shirt.
"I need to check on him."
John watched Mac move, sitting down on the edge of Caleb's bed, trying to sooth whatever fever-induced dreams were torturing the young man.
"Either way we need to go; the light should be enough by now." Winchester glanced at his sons, thoughtfully rubbing over his whiskers.
"Sam, I want you to stay here with Mac and check out if there is something that happened right before the first person went missing. Maybe there was an event or something that could have triggered this, or at least give us a clue of what we are dealing with here." He trained his eyes on Dean, ignoring Sam's building protest. "We're heading out in ten. We don't know what we're dealing with here so we pack silver and iron ammo as well as rocksalt and holy water. For all we know this could be a demon as well."
Dean sat down on the edge of Reaves's bed with a heavy sigh. Running down a hand over his face, he blew out a long breath, ignoring the dots that were dancing in front of his eyes. His headache was getting worse and he felt slightly nauseous.
He glanced to Sam who was going with Mackland over the research again, thankful for the little personal space they were offering. John was already outside packing their gear.
Dean turned his head, his gaze travelling back to his best friend, who was shifting restlessly, his head rolling from side to side.
Caleb mumbled something under his breath that Dean couldn't understand, the frown on the older man's face deepened.
Even without touching him, Dean could feel the heat emitting off of the psychic. He grabbed the facecloth, his fingers tightening around the damp warm fabric.
"Hang in there, Damien. Dad and I will find this creep, get you fixed up as good as new." The middle Winchester briefly rested his hand on Caleb's forehead, feeling the unhealthy heat seeping into his palm. "You can't run out on us … on me." Dean said quietly. With a sigh he removed his touch, re-wetting the cloth in the bowl on the nightstand.
"Deuce?" The psychic's voice was hoarse and barely above a whisper but recognition flashed in the glassy gold eyes as they slowly blinked open.
"Damien? Hey you with me? How are you feeling?" Dean felt relief rush through his body, momentarily dimming the growing pain.
Caleb blinked, shifting slightly under the covers, his brow crumpling in concentration. "Feel weird."
Dean snorted, patting the older man's arm. "Yeah, I bet. Mac got out the big guns, gave you the good stuff."
"Lucky me." Caleb ran his tongue over chapped lips. His eyes fluttered shut for a second before he forced them open once again, revealing two slivers of amber. He shifted slightly, his face tight with pain, his breathing hitched.
"Take it easy, man." Dean soothed, grasping the psychic's hand, squeezing it tightly. He didn't know how else to offer comfort.
"Remind me not to move." Caleb hissed, his free hand pressed on the wound in his side. A faint smirk ghosted around Reaves's mouth, he glanced at his hand in Dean's. "You're around Sammy too much. I thought… he was the only one… in the family with the emo-genes." He closed his eyes for a moment, exhaustion clearly on his face, but didn't break contact.
Dean snorted and laughed. "Says the one with the Enya CD in his car."
"Wasn't mine." Caleb groaned, his grip tightened around the younger hunter's hand.
"Don't worry 'bout me... cavalry's here now." Fever-bright eyes drifted briefly to Mac.
"Yeah, Dad will fix this alright. And afterwards he'll make us run maneuvers until summer, keep you on shit recon jobs for probably a year." Dean released his grip on Caleb's hand. He pinched the bridge of his nose with thumb and forefinger, feeling lightheaded and a little shaky. His arm pulsed in time to his heartbeat, radiating agony through his whole body.
"You okay?" Worried amber-like eyes looked at him.
Dean rolled his eyes. "I thought we covered that already – I'm not the one who got hit by an arrow." He exhaled slowly, raking a hand through his short hair. "Just worried about you losing even more brain cells." He grinned. "You can't afford that."
"Bite me." Reaves blinked, his eyes staying shut for longer periods of time. "Maybe I can p-play the being-poisoned-card with Johnny." He gasped, painlines deepened on his face.
Dean's pulse sped up. This couldn't be good. Caleb was still feeling too much pain with the amount of meds coursing through his system. They needed to hurry, especially since he started to not feel so hot either.
"It's gonna be okay. Dad and I will get the fucker who attacked us. You just hang in there." Dean saw fear flash across Reaves's face.
"You shouldn't be … out there … alone. I have a bad feeling … about this hunt."
The middle Winchester smirked, pushing the growing knot of fear back in a far corner of his mind. He absently flexed his fingers. "Who is the girl now? 'sides, you're kidding, right? I'm out there with Dad, what could possibly happen?"
"I'm serious." Caleb pressed out between clenched teeth, fighting to control his breathing. It wasn't hard to see that the psychic was losing his fight against sleep and exhaustion.
"So am I." Dean reassured, meeting Caleb's worried gaze. "You'll be alright. I mean, after all we can't miss Thanksgiving at the Farm, can we?"
"Deuce…" The older man tried to push himself into a semi-upright position.
"Hey, hey, hey, stop it, Damien." Dean pressed him back down into the pillows.
"You shouldn't be …. out there…"
"Who shouldn't be out there?" John asked, coming to a stand on Reaves's other side of the bed.
"Johnny," Caleb gasped, his eyes fluttering close for a moment as the pain got out of control. "C-can't you call in backup? Bobby or… Josh?" Glassy eyes starred pleadingly up at the older hunter.
John met Mac's worried gaze for a moment before bringing his attention back to his protégée. "That's not possible. We need to move out now." He rested the back of his hand against Caleb's forehead. "You're trying for a record there, Junior?"
Caleb ignored his mentor's invitation for a smart-ass remark. "John please… I'm fine. You can call in… backup."
"Damien, it's alright. Relax." Dean squeezed Reaves's shoulder. He couldn't shake the feeling of uneasiness that grew in his stomach.
"Caleb, where is this coming from? You had a vision or something?" Winchester pressed a hand against Reaves's chest, efficiently stopping the younger man's fruitless attempt to sit up.
"Caleb, you need to calm down." Mac was at John's side now.
"N-no vision. Just… just a bad feelin'." Caleb's words started to run together, his last adrenalin reserves vanishing.
John patted the younger hunter's chest before removing his touch all together. "Don't worry. We got it covered. All you need to do is to hang in there, okay?" Looking at his son he added, "Let's go, Dean."
Dean nodded, standing to follow his father and Mac but Reaves caught the sleeve of his flannel shirt, his fingers twisting the fabric in a death-grip. "Be careful… Deuce." Caleb slurred, his gold gaze clouded from fever and pain.
"I will. But so are you – no checking out on us, okay?" He smirked, ignoring the feeling that this felt too much like a goodbye.
He shook his head. Maybe Damien was right and he was too much around Sammy and his teeny-angstyness.
Sam was already waiting for him at the open door, his face hidden in the shadows of the room and the growing dawn outside.
"You alright?" The teen asked quietly.
Dean rolled his eyes, briefly looking to Dad and Mac who were standing by John's truck, talking.
"Everybody keeps asking me that. Yeah, I'm fine, Sammy." He nodded in Reaves's direction. "Keep an eye on him, okay?"
Sam's worried brown eyes locked with Dean's. "Please, be careful."
"I will, Samantha." The middle Winchester grinned, ruffling his brother's hair. He hoped it would take some of the deer-in-the-headlight-look out of Sammy's face. That and he had enough of all the hallmark moments. Nobody was going to die today so no need for all this emotional crap.
Sam swore, batting Dean's hand away. "I mean it, Dean. What if Caleb is right? What if it was a vision? I mean –"
Sam ignored his brother's objection. "I mean, he had mentioned dreams of you before. Remember before Dad and Mac came? He said you were in danger, that something was after you." Fear bled into the fifteen-year old's voice, overshadowing the matter-of-fact tone from before. "Plus, you're sick."
So much for no chick-flick moments anymore. Dean sighed, cursing his brother's puppy dog eyes.
"Sammy, Damien is out of it right now. He can't think straight. And even if it is what you think it is, we're running out of options here. Like Dad said, we don't have the time to call in backup and Dad can't go out there alone. So that leaves me going with him."
"But why? Why does it leave only you?" Sam shot back, anger flashing in his gaze.
"Sam what do you want?" Dean hissed, keeping his voice low to not alert Ames or Winchester. "You want to send Mac with Dad? That would leave us in the exact same situation as last night. And I really don't need that." And it was his fault after all. He needed to fix it.
"I can come with you, be your backup. You're not a hundred percent, I can help." Sam said softly, meeting his brother's green eyes.
Dean looked at the fifteen-year old, taking in the disheveled look and shell-shocked expression. Right now Sam looked so much younger, scared.
"It's alright, Sammy. It's –"
"Dean," John's gruff words cut through the silence of the early morning, the engine of the truck roared to life.
"Coming," Dean hollered back over his shoulder before looking back at Sam, squeezing the teen's shoulder. "I need you to keep an eye on Caleb, okay? Don't worry about me, I'll be careful." Dean smirked, struggling to ignore the blood pounding in his head, behind his eyes. "You'll see, in a couple of days Damien will have our asses for all the drama."
A faint smile ghosted around the youngest Winchester's lips, as he nodded.
Dean blinked sweat out of his eyes. His mouth felt dry and bile was slowly rising in the back of his throat, made him swallow thickly. Everything seemed covered in a fog though he was pretty sure that was just his muddled brain playing tricks on him.
John was a good couple of steps ahead of him, soundlessly moving through the thick bushes.
Dean stumbled, catching himself on the trunk of an old oak tree. He stood there, head resting against the rough damp bark for a second, eyes closed, feeling his gun dig into the small of his lower back.
A shiver ran through him. It had stopped raining again about an hour ago but the icy chill that now lingered was a soon promise of snow.
He hated woods, especially in November. No scratch that, he hated woods period.
They had been searching for almost three hours now. Dean was still surprised that he'd easily found the clearing where the attack went down in the first place. Rain had washed most of Reaves's blood away though there were still traces here and there but no signs of the arrow or a clue of what they were dealing with.
Dean rubbed a hand over his eyes, damn, he needed to focus, especially since it was getting harder to ignore the slowly spreading poison in his system.
He placed his hand over the throbbing cut on his left arm. Fuck, this couldn't be good.
Looking up he could barely see John's moving form between all the bushes and other evergreens in front of him. The unnatural silence of the woods was unnerving. Even for the end of November it was far too quiet.
Dean's hand moved to his gun at the back of his jeans, starting to follow his Dad.
Without warning the ground suddenly gave out under him and he fell. He didn't even have time for a surprised outcry before the impact forced all air out of his lung.
Searing pain shot through him then everything went dark.
Dean didn't know how long he had blacked out. Coming to was hard and unpleasant and with growing awareness came the pain.
The younger hunter gasped, clenching his eyes tightly shut. His head felt like it was going to explode any second; something warm and sticky was running down his face, mixing with the mud underneath him. Something thicker than water or sweat – fuck.
Dean tried to shift but the movement sent white-hot tendrils of agony through his right lower leg, the limp throbbing in time to his racing heartbeat, his fingers digging into the muddied earth, fisting around cold wet leaves
He cried out, his voice raw and weak. Swallowing thickly he tried to ignore the sudden wave of nausea, bile burning in the back of his throat. The intense smell of damp soil and rotten leaves didn't really help to calm down his flip-flopping stomach.
Panting through the pain he blinked heavy-lidded eyes open, hissing as his headache intensified to an almost unbearable level.
Panic rushed through him as his muddled brain finally realized where he was.
He was lying belly down in something that seemed to be a deep hole or pit or something – either way it was a trap, that much he knew.
Moving inch by inch to not startle his leg or any other hidden injury yet again Dean slowly looked up, seeing the edge of the hole a few feet above him.
Dizziness washed over him and his vision doubled.
Crap, this didn't look good. If he was honest, he wasn't sure if he could make it out of here on his own. Not with the way his leg was hurting.
The younger hunter clenched his teeth, trying to move his legs but a breathtaking wave of pain shot through his right limb, dark dots dancing in front of his eyes. A choked whimper escaped his throat.
Over the ringing in his ears and the rolling nausea he could hear muffled shouts. Dad! Thank god.
"Dad!" He screamed though even in his own ears his voice sounded weak, the yell for help more like a hoarse whisper.
Ignoring the pain he tried to make it in a somewhat upright position, his arms shaking under the strain to hold up his weight.
"Dad!" He screamed again, his voice breathless but a little stronger this time.
"Dean! Goddamn it, answer me!" John's voice grew softer, moving further away from him.
Dean felt himself losing his battle against unconsciousness, his body betraying his determination. He blinked, struggling to stay awake but darkness was eating his vision fast.
No, no he couldn't black out again …
"Dad…" He whispered desperately, his arms giving out under him as oblivion swallowed him completely.
Mac leaned against the sink, listening to Jim's calm voice on the other end of the cell. Sometimes the Pastor's calmness amazed him, especially in crisis like this, when his own stomach was a tight knot of dread.
He shifted, wincing as whatever dug into his back re-woke the blooming bruises from his close encounter with an old chair.
Mac rubbed a hand over his forehead, tracing A pattern on the worn kitchen floor. Whoever thought that mixing yellow and purple tiles was a good idea was either a frigging genius or just plain crazy. Right now he would bet his money on the latter.
"The medication is barely working. His fever has been holding steady for the last two hours but that's about it. He is drifting in and out of consciousness but I don't want to knock him out completely. His breathing is already shallow, using more pain relievers could be unwise." The Scholar sighed, lifting his gaze to Sam, who had taken a seat next to his son, running a cloth over the older man's face.
"I have searched through half of the journals in The Tomb but with what we know so far it is not possible to exactly pinpoint something. I called Missouri for advice but she also needs more details to help with something to counteract the poison." Jim's voice was still calm but Mac could hear the underlying weariness in his friend's words. He could see the preacher running a hand through his gray hair, exhaling slowly. "Looks like our best chance is to hunt down whatever did this to our boys."
Mac nodded, though he knew the Guardian couldn't see it, rubbing a hand over his tired eyes. "John and Dean are on it; they are searching for the attacker as we speak. And we will head out to the library as soon as you arrive."
Jim was silent for a moment. "How are you holding up, my friend?"
Mac huffed out a long breath, frowning when he noticed his son's restless movements on the bed.
"Jim, hold on for a sec,"
"Easy Caleb, it's okay." Sam said softly, soothing the facecloth once again over the psychic's cheeks and forehead. But despite the younger Winchester's best efforts the thrashing got more agitated, Caleb's eyes rolled under closed lids, his face contorted in pain. He moaned, his head moving from side to side.
"Caleb?" Sam asked, his gaze flicking helplessly in Ames's direction before landing back on Reaves.
The fifteen-year old wasn't prepared for Caleb suddenly jack-knifing upright, almost knocking him off the bed in the process.
Caleb gasped, doubling over as the flaring pain in his side caught up with the rest of his body, one arm protectively wrapped around his middle.
"Damn," Ames swore softly.
"Mackland?" Jim sounded worried.
"I'll call you back." Without further explanations or the wait for an answer Mac ended the phone call, hurrying to the younger man's bedside.
"Caleb, hey, take it easy." The Scholar placed a steadying hand on Caleb's shoulder, concerned about the amount of heat he could feel radiating off of him. "Come on, let's get you laying back down again, ease some of the strain on your stitches." Mac gently pressed him back onto the bed.
"No, Dad…" Caleb fought unsuccessfully to stay upright, his panicked gaze locking with Mac's. "They're… they're in danger. The woods…" He panted through gritted teeth, his voice strained. "We need to find them. They need to… come back..." Caleb pushed weakly at the bed sheet.
"Caleb, calm down." Ames rested the back of his hand against Reaves's forehead; his temperature was through the roof, so was his pulse. Damn.
"No, we … we don't have … time. Deuce…" He groaned, when ripples of pain shot through him.
Ames caught Sam's fearful look at the mention of his brother. A bad feeling was growing inside his stomach. Maybe these weren't just dreams caused by the high fever…
"I need you to calm down first, son. Your fever's gone up again. You –"
"You don't … understand, Dad." The psychic got more agitated, shifting restlessly on the bed.
"Caleb –" Sam started, his voice filled with too much emotion to pass as soothing or calm.
"Dean's… he's in… danger… T-trap… The thing's… after him… Vis–" Without warning Reaves's eyes rolled back and his body started to convulse.
"Mac!" Sam's voice was high with fear, his hands fighting to keep Caleb down on the bed.
"Don't hold him down, Sam." Mac ordered, his tone stern. "Just make sure he can't hurt himself." He glanced at his watch, counting the seconds.
"He is seizing. His fever is too high." Mac desperately tried to ignore his parental side which was screaming inside his head. He glanced back at his watch - almost two minutes already.
Suddenly the younger hunter's body went completely still, his head lolling to his side. It was then that Mac noticed the thin rivulet of blood trickling out of the corner of Caleb's mouth.
"Shit," Mackland's rare use of such words made Sam wince. Huge brown eyes traced all his moves
The Scholar's frantic hands tossed the blanket aside, lifting the damp t-shirt.
"Sam, call an ambulance, now! Tell them they need to hurry, that we have a patient with internal bleeding here."
"Now Sam!" Ames emphasized sharply, his eyes focusing back on the stained gauze, the spot of fresh blood steadily growing. Dark tendrils crawled out from under the bandage, zigzagging in all directions, creeping higher up Caleb's chest. He didn't have to touch his abdomen to know it was rigid. Shit, how could he have missed this?
Caleb coughed weakly, adding more blood to the small rivulet trickling down his chin.
This was bad, really bad.