A/N: I would like the warm and generous Supernaturalbuffy, who purchased me and started this story moving. It is dedicated to her. I hope it didn't go a little too odd. Thank you all for sticking with me through this one. Thank you to TraSan.
Scream of the Butterfly
The cliff soared over Sam's head, the canyon silent a soft whisper of wind. He stared up at the rock wall, panic and desperation slamming through his chest. "No!" he yelled. "NO!" Sam pounded at the stone, his hands aching with the increasingly violent blows. He dropped to his knees and started digging at the base of the cliff, the need to get to his brother overwhelming him. "Dean!"
"Sam! Stop!" Yellowhair grabbed his hands
"No." Yellowhair kept a tight grip on Sam's hands.
"Please," Sam begged.
"This isn't the way," Yellowhair said gently.
Sam tried to pull away, then sagged against the stone, resting his head against the cool rock. Yellowhair was right, he would never be able to get through this way. With a sigh, he pushed himself up, his hand leaving a bloody print on the cliff as he stood. "You help Jeff, I'll go the other way."
"What other way?" Yellowhair frowned.
"The way we got out, I'll go back up the cliff." Even as he said it, Sam knew he'd never make it. He took several deep breaths. I have to make it. Turning he leaned against the wall, bumping his head against the rock, letting the small pain ground him, let it focus him before heading out.
He was falling. The solid stone was suddenly gone and Sam was trying to grab onto thin air to stop the downward plunge. He landed hard enough to knock the breath out of his lungs and stun him for a moment. Blinking, he saw the sky framed in the open mouth of the cave. It took a moment for his brain to catch up with what that meant, then he was struggling to stand, pulling the flashlight out of his pocket and stumbling through the fallen rock towards where he'd left Dean and the others.
He could hear Yellowhair behind him as he ran through the cave, trying to ignore the fresh breaks and slashes in the stone walls. Something had tried to tear the cave apart. His panic ramped up further and further until his heart was pounding in his throat. The scent of wood smoke brought him to a stop for a moment, then he ran on, rounding the last corner before the cavern where they had sought safety.
Smoke eddied through the cave, disappearing into the darkness over their heads. Rich and the others were gathered close to the fire, huddled around a still form on the floor. "Dean!" Sam shouted, racing towards them and slamming to his knees beside his brother. Tears burned in his eyes as he reached a shaking hand for a pulse. Dean was so still. "Dean?" he whispered. When he felt the small beat against his fingers he let out the breath he'd been holding. "He's alive."
Sam looked up at Rich, tears blurring his eyes, letting his hand rest against the faint beat of Dean's pulse as he did. He took a slow breath to control the shaky feeling in his chest, one more slow inhale and exhale and he stood. "We have to get him out of here, and get some help." He bent over to pick Dean up. Rich stopped him. "What?" he growled.
"Let us help, Sam."
"Yes," Yellowhair said, stepping up and grabbing one end of the blanket Dean was laying on, Sam lifted the other, grinding his teeth against the pain in his hands.
They carried his brother back through the cave, out to where the sun flooded the landscape and shadows cast by clouds chased over the red ground. Sam stumbled when he reached the entrance, his legs rubbery. Without warning, his knees buckled and it was all he could do to keep Dean from slamming into the ground as he fell. He leaned against a rock and dropped his hand onto Dean's chest. "It's okay, Dean, help is on the way."
Sam closed his eyes and listened to the activity around him, promising himself he would get up in a minute. He could hear the others as they got the wounded settled, and Yellowhair's deep voice as he spoke with someone—maybe on the phone. There was the call of a hawk from high over their heads and the wind made a low tone, almost musical, as it brushed against the cliff. He would get up in just a minute.
He must have drifted off, he had a strange dream full of sound and movement, of brief pain and a moment of panic, then quiet filled by a rumbling purr. A bump in the road smacked his head against the window and he shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Damn it, Dean, be careful," he mumbled, still not fully awake.
"We're almost there," Yellowhair answered him.
"Dean!" Sam shot upright, banging his head on the roof of the truck cab.
"It's okay." Yellowhair reached over to steady him. "We're almost there, another five minutes to the highway then ten to the hospital."
"How's my brother?" Sam asked, frantically looking out the window. He could see the railroad bridge in the distance.
"They said he was stable, Jeff, too. One of the other members of project is critical, they found him on the other side of the canyon, it looked like he'd been burned. They checked you over and said you needed to report to the ER as soon as you got in."
"Uh huh." Yellowhair nodded. "Your brother mumbled something like that when they were loading him onto the stretcher. Insisted they take you instead—then he passed out again."
Sounds like Dean," Sam said, smiling. He leaned back in the seat and closed his eyes, silently counting the time as the truck lurched onto the pavement and sped down the highway.
When they arrived at the hospital, Yellowhair helped Sam out of the truck and into the small emergency room waiting room. The nurse took Sam's blood pressure and pulse, then ushered him back into one of the treatment bays. He only waited a few minutes before a doctor arrived.
"I'm Dr. George."
"How's my brother?"
George looked down at the file he was carrying. "He's stable. They are prepping him for surgery."
"His leg needs a pin, nothing to worry about." He smiled reassuringly. "How did you hurt your hands?" the doctor asked.
Sam looked down at his bruised and bloody hands, remembering the frantic moments when Dean was still behind the wall of the cliff. "Digging."
"Arnold did tell me a little about it."
"Yellowhair? He's family." George tipped Sam's head to look at the cuts on his face. "This one might need stitches." He gently poked a sore spot on Sam's neck. "Huh. What's that?" The doctor walked to the cupboard on one side of the room and pulled out a pair of forceps. "This will sting."
"It always does," Sam said with a sigh.
"This will sting more." The doctor dug at his neck gently, Sam hissed in pain as George tugged something out of the flesh. He stepped back, staring at the black claw trapped in the forceps. "What the hell is that?" After turning it side to side, he held it out to Sam. "Do you want it?"
Sam started to decline, but changed his mind as he remembered a night when they were in their teens and Dean had spent more than an out carefully collecting the broken bits of a ritual bowl. "You never know what will be handy later, Sammy." He nodded. "Thanks."
"I'll stick it over here while I take care of you." George opened a drawer and started pulling things out of it and setting them on the rolling table in the room.
"I need to see Dean."
"We'll get you up to see him as soon as possible, okay?" He stepped out and came back with a nurse. "I'm going to give you something for pain, and then you can relax while we take care of this."
"Just take care of it, I don't need..." Sam felt the prick of a needle and a warmth spread up his arm. Pain he hadn't even been aware of started to dissipate. He sighed as the drugs lulled him into a light doze. He felt someone bandaging his hands and the tug of sutures going in, but he didn't really register them. Sam knew he couldn't fight the warm buzz of the meds, the desperate need to check on Dean was still there, but the fog of painkillers wouldn't let him move right then, try as he might. Not long, Dean, I'll be there as soon as I can.
The scent of sage gave way to something else, the soft rustle of the wind in the grass replaced by a gentle rhythmic beep and a steady whisper of air. There was a low throb in his body that Dean knew was pain, but he was removed from it so it was just a pulsing beat. He suspected that was a good thing. If he had been hurt bad enough for Sam to get him into a hospital without a fight, it must be moderately bad. Sam knew better than to try and get him into the hands of the medical profession unless there was a good reason. In fact, Sam usually didn't.... Memory came rushing back, the cave, Joe's deep voice telling Dean that Sam had a plan, the explosion of the world around him. "Sammy!"
"It's okay, Dean," Sam said from beside him.
"Sam?" Dean struggled to get his eyes open, but they felt stuck. He knew Sam would understand what he was asking.
"I'm okay." Sam dropped a hand on Dean's arm. There was something wrong there, but Dean's brain wasn't processing the what. "I am okay. Sleep a little long."
"You sure?" Dean mumbled, feeling the tug of sleep on the edge of his awareness.
"Yeah. I'll be here, Dean."
"Better be." Dean let himself drift into sleep, comforted by the warm hand on his arm. He was still trying to figure out what was wrong when the soft darkness claimed him.
A groan followed by a thump woke Dean sometime later. "You okay?" Dean said automatically.
"Sorry, my foot slipped," Sam answered. "I didn't mean to wake you."
"Are you okay?" he repeated, opening his eyes and turning his head to look at his brother.
"Hey." Sam smiled. "How do you feel? Cotton mouth?" He reached for the cup beside the bed with bandaged hands and held it up for Dean to take a sip.
"Thanks," Dean said as Sam put the cup down. "I thought you said you were okay?"
"Your hands?" Dean took a better look as he became more aware. "And the stitches? And your face?" He tried to sit up, only to be stopped by Sam's hand on his chest, pushing him back down to the bed. "Let me up."
"Hold still. You have a few stitches too."
"Sam," he growled, but relaxed into the bed as the movement pulled something on his chest and ramped up the throb in his leg to something close to actual pain.
"Are you going to stay there?" Sam gave him the full squinch, complete with that look.
"Good." Sam leaned back in the chair beside the bed.
"Oh." Sam looked down as his hands. "They're okay, really. This is just to keep them clean."
"Okay, fine. I banged them up a little getting to you, but they're okay."
"I was about to ask you the same thing," Sam said.
There was something wrong, Dean could see it, something had happened. "I don't know, really. Joe did something, but he stopped it, said you had a plan." The last came out as an accusation.
"The mummy they excavated was the protector of the area."
"It was Joe."
"It was Joe?" Sam nodded. "I guessed if we brought him back, his protection would be restored." Sam frowned at him. "They needed the physical remains for the protection to work." He stopped, swallowing hard, his eyes tearing up. "Dean..."
"You agreed to take his place didn't you?"
"You did. I..." Sam started breathing hard. "I saw you."
"Sammy?" Dean asked gently, laying his hand over his brother's. He should have known something was seriously wrong, Sam's hand was still on his chest, like Sam needed verification he was alive.
"I saw you."
"What?" Dean tightened his grip on Sam's hand. His brother was shaking, a haunted look in his eye.
"I saw you, or thought I did."
"I don't understand."
"The mummy," Sam said his voice tight. "I saw you for a minute." He swallowed. "When I uncovered it at the museum. I saw you in..." He trailed off, his eyes brimming. Sam cleared his throat, but didn't move his hand. "We brought the mummy back and put him back where he belonged." Sam met his eyes.
"I..." Dean began, planning to deny everything, but stopped. "I'm sorry," he said softly. "I was... It was..."
"I was there," he blurted out.
"Where Joe was—where he came from, I mean. When I was there, it seemed to make sense, to become their protector. I did try to say no, but I was too far gone, that was when Joe said you had a plan."
"Yeah." Sam nodded, a small smile on his face. "I did."
"Yep. The others?" Dean blinked, he was starting to get sleepy.
"Rich is fine, Jeff should be out of the hospital tomorrow and the one critical burn case is stable."
"Good." Dean's eyes closed against his will. As he started to fall asleep, something occurred to him. "My car?"
"Out at the dig."
Dean's eyes snapped open. "You left my baby out there?"
"She's okay, Dean. Arnold is keeping an eye on her. I rode in with someone. We'll go get it when they release you."
"Yeah, we better," Dean said, closing his eyes again. He took a deep breath. "Thanks, Sammy."
"Any time, Dean," his brother answered softly.
Dean sighed and drifted into sleep.
Dean carefully swung out of the truck, balancing one hand on his crutches. "Back off," he said to his brother. "Sammy, I mean it."
Sam had been hovering for the last three days. Dean was sure they moved up his release date just to get Sam off their back. To be fair, there had been a close call just after their conversation. Dean wasn't sure what happened, he was dreaming, back in the canyon watching birds circling over his head, and the next thing he knew, Sam was shouting and there were a lot of people in his room. Then the hovering had started.
"Be careful with your crutches," Sam said, steadying him with a hand under his elbow.
"I know how to use crutches."
"The ground's uneven, maybe you should just..."
"Sam?" Dean said very carefully, Sam stopped fussing long enough to look at him. "Okay, fine. You can help." Dean handed one crutch to Sam, and let his brother support him as they moved cautiously to where the Impala was parked. When they reached the car, Dean leaned against her with a sigh.
"Thanks for the ride," Sam said to Yellowhair.
"Of course," the man said with a smile. He reminded Dean a little of Joe, something about his eyes. "You two travel safely. Come back sometime." He shook their hands and walked back to his truck, waving at them before heading out of the canyon.
Dean looked around, the red walls were marred by black streaks and huge gouges. His eyes followed the line of the cliff, stopping at a small tent that had been pitched close to where the ranch house had once stood. Rich was walking towards them, a frown on his face, but he smiled as he got closer.
"I... I don't know what to say. I'm not sure thank you is right," Rich said quietly. "They are marking this area as closed to development, and the adjacent private lands as well." He sighed. "Jeff told me about the earlier accidents."
"What are you going to do about him?" Sam asked.
"Nothing. In fact, after talking with him... Well, we are going to be working closely with a local group that wants to protect all the sites in the area. I've signed on as an 'adviser' to give them a little publicity boost."
"That's great," Sam said with a smile.
Dean listened, not really paying attention as he looked over the canyon. In his mind's eye, he could see it as it had been in his dreams, here the call of unknown animals and see people whose faces he would never forget. A flash of movement by the cave drew his eyes, as he watched Joe appeared in the dark shadows by the mouth. Dean could see his smile, he raised his hand, Joe did as well, then turned and disappeared into the cave.
"Hey." Sam's voice was soft. "You okay?"
Dean shifted enough so his shoulder came into contact with his brother. They stood like that for a long moment, Dean focused on the canyon, Sam waiting quietly beside him. "Of course I'm okay, Sammy," he said, pulling away with a smirk. "Ready to go?"
"Yeah." Sam opened the passenger door and helped Dean in, tucking the crutches in the back seat. "Where to?" he asked, sliding into the driver's seat.
"Anywhere," Dean said, relaxing against the seat with a sigh.
"On the way." His brother grinned.
Sam turned the car on and Dean listened contentedly to the rumbling purr of the Impala's engine, after a moment he sat up long enough to shove a tape in the stereo. Sam laughed as Iron Maiden blasted out of the speakers.
It was good to be on the road again.
A/N II: I am looking for photo ops with the boys at VanCon.