"Break, break, break, On thy cold gray stones, O sea! And I would that my tongue could utter The thoughts that arise in me"
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Dean didn't know how long Sam had been lying there when he finally found him. His legs were splayed wide and his body soaked and unmoving on the rocky shore of the freezing Maine coastline.
"Damn it!" Dean swore, slipping and skinning his hands on the slick rocks as he scrambled down the boulder-strewn cliffs. The cold wind sliced through him and his breath puffed out in white clouds, the sound of his breathing obscured by the restless crash of the waves on the bleak coastline. Snow was falling in swirling eddies, blanketing the ground right up to the shoreline in fluffy white death. His mind flashed to the announcement on the radio that blizzard-like conditions were expected for the next 18 hours.
He skidded to a halt at Sam's side, shouting his brother's name and grabbing him by the shoulders. Sam's jacket was stiff and he was missing his shoes. Snowflakes covered his dark wet hair, and the tips were clumped and frozen. Dean turned his brother over, feeling his stomach clench in fear at the sight of Sam's blue lips and waxen features.
He had been running up and down the pier and the adjoining beaches since the ghost of the murdered fisherman had appeared before them and tossed Sam into the raging ocean, and his own fingers were frozen, unfeeling nubs, so instead he leaned his cheek close to Sam's lips. Over the painful thudding of his heart he felt a faint moist breath on his face.
A rush of relief speared him in the belly, but he had no time to revel in it. Instead, he leaned over and pulled the stiff body of his brother over his shoulder in an awkward firefighter's carry--damn, but Sam was Iheavy/I--and made for the shoreline where a beach house stood back in the pines, a lone light shining in the window like a beacon of hope.
Legs burning and shoulders aching, Dean tramped onto the porch of the little wooden house and kicked at the door, shouting for the owner, Norton Jones, to open up. He and Sam had just visited him this afternoon, trolling for clues about recent drownings in the area. The irony of dragging a drenched Sam over his threshold now was not lost on Dean.
Norton opened his door, eyes comically wide, gray hair standing up in wispy tufts on his balding head.
"Help," Dean managed to gasp out as he shouldered his way into Norton's messy, but warm little house. He laid Sam down on the braided rug in the living room, shoving aside the coffee table piled high with newspapers and cigarette wrappers and old beer cans.
Sam looked like a marble statue, lying there all stiff and white and as still as stone. Dean fell to his knees next to his brother and began tugging at his sodden clothing.
"What happened?" Norton gasped.
"Blankets," Dean replied. "And towels – quick!"
Norton disappeared in a flash, moving quicker than it seemed possible for any old man with a gimpy leg. Dean managed to get Sam's leather coat off his broad shoulders, but his fingers were too cold and shook too much to allow Dean to manage the buttons on his flannel shirt. Instead, he ripped the shirt open, buttons scattering across the floor.
By the time Dean had Sam completely naked, Norton returned bearing an armful of towels and army-green woolen blankets. Norton stood watching, mouth gaping open, as Dean toweled off his brother's body, then tucked the blankets around him, moving with quick efficiency.
"Heather Simmons is a nurse out at Regional General," Norton said. "She and her kids are staying a couple of miles south in her grandaddy's beach house. I'll go fetch her."
"What about a hospital?" Dean asked, fearing the answer.
"The interstate is washed out at the bridge – I heard it on the radio earlier. We'd have to get the Coast Guard to fly in and I'm not sure they can do that in this weather. Heather will help, you'll see." And then he was gone, the door opening to admit a swirl of frigid air that made a shudder wrack Dean's body.
He heard Norton's off-kilter footsteps clump down the porch stairs and then all was silent save for the howl of the wind, the hum of the heater, and the gasping of Dean's own breath.
Dean swallowed and began rubbing his hands up and down Sam's arms briskly. "Sammy. "Come on, now. You've gotta be all right. Let me know you're still with me."
The dark swirl of his wet hair made Sam's skin look so pale in contrast. He lay as still and rigid as a board. Dean tried to think of everything he knew about hypothermia and shock as he continued rubbing Sam's limbs. Hot water bottles … surely an old codger like Norton would have some laying around here somewhere.
Dean got up and banged around in the kitchen until he found a pot, then filled it with water and ignited the burner on the ancient gas stove. Dean was back at Sam's side in a moment, hoping for some sort of change, but seeing none.
"Sammy, please. Come on. You gotta be all right, man. You just gotta. Wake up, will you? You know I'm no good with waiting around for people to get better. You know that just kills me."
Dean brought Sam's gigantic paws up between his own and started rubbing them, all the while pleading, "Sam, are you there? Let me know, buddy. You gotta let me know."
Sam gave a sigh and shifted a little, making Dean's heart leap in his chest. Then he blinked once, lazily, then a few more times, the white of his eyes showing. Dean leaned over and began patting his brother's cheeks lightly, calling, "Sam! Wake up!"
Sam blinked again, his eyes righting themselves in his skull, and his face twisted up in annoyance. "Lemme alone, Dean," he slurred. "Don't wanna get up yet. No school today."
Dean gave a weak laugh that sounded more like a sob than he wanted to admit.
"'m serious, Dean," Sam groused.
When Norton and Heather hurried in the door minutes later they found Dean leaning over his brother, forehead pressed to his heart, murmuring, "Thank you, thank you, thank you …"