Here it is, folks! My first story, yay!
As I mentioned in my profile, English is not my first language. My lovely Beta and me have done our best to get rid of spelling mistakes and grammar slips, but if the english speaking nation out there still gets headaches and flickering before the eyes, I deeply apologize. All mistakes are mine.
Speaking of "mine", Supernatural and it's characters belong to Master Kripke and the CW. Only the characters in this story you haven't heard of before, they're indeed mine, harhar.
And last but not least: my gorgeous Beta Azrael – you know what you mean to me! Thanks for your support and being a pain in the neck! You totally rule!!
Okay. Here we go **takes a deep breath**
Getting the head slammed against a window wasn't exactly the favorite kind of awakening for him, but it did the trick.
"Son of a bitch..." Dean moaned as he tried to blink the cobwebs away that were lingering in his mind and in front of his eyes. He straightened, yawning and trying to decide wether he should first rub his bleary eyes or the arising goose egg on the side of his head.
"Look who's with us again! Good mornin', honey! Coffee's ready!" The way too cheery and therefore very annoying voice coming from the drivers seat did nothing to Deans mood as he glared through the windshield of the huge Ford Bronco he was riding shotgun.
"Shut the hell up, Jason, your girly voice is hard to bear without alcohol or caffeine running through my system", Dean murmured and took in the surroundings outside. They had left the paved road and were now jolting down a path of gravel and dirt. It was noon, the Grand Teton National Parc welcomed the men with a sun standing high up in the sky but failing to spend much warmth as autumn was early this year.
Dean closed his eyes again and drew a really deep breath – not that he was really anxious about being surrounded by nature. No, that was one part of this upcoming hunt he would gladly change, the location. He would prefer a cuddly old warehouse or maybe a nice abandoned school in a suburb of a pretty little town where he would at least have the option of a tiny bit of civilization. Starving for a burger? Just fall out of the motel room and enter the diner on the other side of the street. Try your luck on a poker game or a beautiful woman? Just drop into the bar at the corner, enjoying the nightlife with a cool beer in your hand. Instead, this hunt had dragged him right into the pure nature of Wyoming, including the need to drive a couple of hours in any direction before meeting something not based on photosynthesis.
And the need to drive a couple of hours to get back to Sam.
Dean shook his head slightly to shove the memories of the past days he had spent with his little brother back into his mind. He had to focus on this hunt now, the first hunt in about two years without Sam at his side. Now he had to get used to this somehow.
"Hey Dean, you're alright?" Patrick asked from the backseat, looking up from the map and the papers in his lap, his incredible big brown eyes showing a spark of concern as he leaned forward. Dean had to smile on that – Patrick reminded him strongly of Sam; the constant worry, the cautiousness, the accuracy with the research. Compared to the other three hunters on this mission Patrick was still a kid and Dean couldn't help but feel responsible for him. Hell, he wanted to kick the boy's ass right into school again, not wanting him to even know this kind of life.
"Yeah, just a little stiff and sore from sitting in this truck and gettin' tossed around. Could I have a look at your driver's license, Jay? I really admire a good falsification if I see one." Dean smirked at Jason and stretched his limps, slapping him on the shoulder in the same movement.
„That's hilarious, Deano, how could I ever hunt all these years without you being my personal pain-in-the-ass?" Jason laughed before he reduced the speed of the big truck and narrowed his eyes. "I think this is it, we should set up our camp by the riverside, this will be half the battle. Patrick, wake Seth."
"I'm awake...", the crumpled heap beside Patrick mumbled and began to stir. "So, what's the plan again? Out of the truck, slaughter those guys, back into the truck, goodnight, right?" The boredom in Seth's voice was almost visible.
Patrick let out a sigh and glanced down at his papers again. "Don't get too excited, Seth, you might get a heart attack or something. So...uh...as much as we know all hikers went missing near the river, so if we're lucky this turns out to be a quick hunt and we'll be heading home before dawn."
"That's exactly what I said..." muttered Seth and straightened in his seat.
Dean remained silent and gazed through the side window. Home before dawn. Where would that be, his home, now that Sam wasn't a part of his life anymore? Sure, he would head back to the Roadhouse first, along with Jason, Seth and Patrick. Maybe he would join them in another hunt, he truly didn't know if he was prepared to go hunting all alone already. And that scared the crap out of him. To be so doubtful, so vulnerable, so frightened. Dean's home used to be his precious Impala, filled with his little brother, that was all he needed.
The Impala was waiting for him at the Roadhouse. But Sam wasn't.
The Bronco came to a halt near the edge of a cliff. The Snake River beneath had cut deep into the landscape and had meandered canyons into the land – with a pretty girl and a picnic basket at hand the scenery would be downright romantic. The four hunters exiting the vehicle had other plans with the upcoming night.
After a brief look around Dean approached the edge and knelt down, knowing that they hadn't reached their final destination yet. The cliff itself was rather steep, it would be a bitch to climb down, especially carrying the weapons and bags. But there was no way they were able to reach this exact point by the river where all the people had gone missing with the car, so the men were supposed to get as far as they could with their truck and then set off using their feet.
"This is going to be so much fun", Dean muttered to himself and returned to the truck to get his weapons. Jason and Seth had settled a couple of feet away to prepare the flame thrower and some torches, while Patrick, still sitting on the backseat with his legs dangling out of the car, stuffed the papers and maps in his backpack. He was shivering a bit and Dean was sure this had nothing to do with the chilling air.
"You sure you're up for this, kiddo?" Dean asked quietly as he rummaged through his duffle for his knife and gun, his gaze drifting between the bag and the boy on the backseat.
"Sure – why shouldn't I be?" Patrick replied, fumbling with the zipper of the backpack.
"Well, 'cause you're shaking like a leaf, for starters, and the way you're cuddling your daypack." Dean turned his attention to Patrick. "How many times have you been on a hunt?"
"Why do you want to know?"
"Because I'm a curious person, that's why. Come on, spill it."
Patrick let go of his fumbling with the zipper, casting his eyes over the landscape. "I've done plenty of salt'n burns..."
"Oh, really?" Dean interrupted and raised his eyebrows at the young man. Patrick glanced quickly at him and looked down, returning to his zipper-fumbling once more.
"Uh, well...actually I did the research for Seth and Jason and when it came to the real action I had to stay behind, playing the role of the lookout."
"Okay." Dean replied slowly, still scrutinizing Patrick. "And how's it that you're here now? On a hunt like this, chasing three Wendigos? You won a bet or something?"
"I wanted to do something bigger, and when the guys jumped on this hunt I insisted to be a part of it."
Dean let out a sigh, stashed his knife into the sheath, his gun into his waistband and stepped up in front of Patrick, ducking his head so he was at eye level with him. "I want you to listen to me", Dean said softly, "This is no freakin' fishing trip, Patrick. And if you're not up for this it's no shame to stay out of it."
"Thanks Dad", Patrick growled and slid out of the truck, "I'm gonna be fine."
"Just stay close, alright? So I can grab your ears and pull yourself into safety if things go south." Dean called after the young hunter and smiled to himself. Though he was quite uneasy with the lack of experience this kid offered, he was glad it was him to keep an eye on Patrick during his first real nasty hunt. Being a big brother was a job he wasn't able to shake off so fast, even if there wasn't a little brother anymore within his reach.
He threw his duffel over his shoulder and slammed the passenger door shut before he joined Patrick, Jason and Seth, who were all three hunched up over a flamethrower lying on the ground. Dean couldn't help but chuckle over the rather antique weapon at his feet.
"Alright – done", Seth panted as he got up, sweating from his efforts to get the weapon ready for action.
"So, what do you say, Winchester? Isn't she lovely?" Jason said, his voice thick with pride.
"Well, is this thing delivered with the grandpa who's old enough to know how to handle it?" Dean answered, still wondering if this was a joke or not. "Where did you get it from, did you knock out a second world war veteran?"
"I'm the grandpa, jerk, and you'll be glad we have her as soon as I broil our friends", Jason stated as he patted the tank of the flamethrower. "We have four torches and this baby here, so along with guns and knifes this should do it. Now ladies, I suggest we get our stuff and get the party started!"
He got up and marched to the truck while Patrick joined Dean with the head-shaking over the murderous device at his feet. "He's really obsessed with this thing. I'm just glad I don't have to carry it", Patrick whispered, nudging Dean's arm with a broad smile.
"Yeah, well, you can't choose where Cupid's arrow..."
A piercing shriek cut Dean's words and the two men spun around. They caught Seth's and Jason's gazes, who were as startled as Dean and Patrick.
The screech seemed to be far away, yet it was loud and screaming enough to be able to cause the mother of all headaches. It sounded like the cry of a hawk mixed with what felt like a low rolling thunder and strange voices coming from different directions. The voices were whispering, screaming, pleading, crying – for help, for salvation, for escape. And they were getting louder and clearer with each passing second.
Dean threw his hands up to cover his ears, the horrible shriek stinging his brain like thousands of needles, the voices sending a cold shiver down his spine, bringing him down to his knees. The sound was paralyzing, leaving him unable to move or react.
"What...the...hell!" Dean groaned, his fingertips digging as deep into his skull as possible, his forehead landing on the dusty ground.
Suddenly the shriek hushed and Dean felt he could move again. He sat up, shook his head and looked around for Patrick, Jason and Seth.
"Everyone okay?" he shouted and was met with the sight of the other three hunters lying or kneeling on the ground as well, groaning and holding their heads. Dean quickly stood and looked around, trying to find the source of the brain-smashing sound.
"Holy crap. What was that?" Seth asked as he changed his position from being sprawled in the dirt up to his hands and knees.
It was then when they heard it – a wing beat, much like that of a bird, but this beat seemed to belong to something larger. First nearly inaudible, it's volume increased at an alarming rate and as Dean turned he saw something in the air, heading directly to their position. Recognizing their disastrous situation of being in a fishbowl he pulled his gun out of his waistband and grabbed Patrick's arm, yanking him to his feet.
"We have to get away from here, go go! Go!" Dean hollered, dragging the young hunter towards the truck. Jason and Seth were on their feet in seconds, running to the Bronco as well, when the shriek resounded again, this time louder and, if it was even possible, more painful as before. The four hunters were again forced to the ground, unable to continue their escape.
Jason started screaming. His anguished cries echoed through the air, mixing with the damned sounds coming from whatever kind of evil attacking the men. As Dean opened his eyes and peered towards Jason's position it took his breath away.
Hunkering over the screaming and struggling hunter lying in the dirt was an awfully big bird-like creature. It looked like an oversized vulture, about 9 feet tall, it's giant wings flapping onto the ground, raising dust and gravel. It's long and hooked open beak was mere inches away of Jason's throat, one of the huge sharp talons was almost completely burrowed in Jason's chest, leaving a puddle of blood to where he lay, the white grayish plumage of the bird already stained with crimson.
"Nonononono...Jason...No!" Patrick yelled, who too had managed to get a glimpse of the gruesome spectacle in front of him, but was as unable to help.
The vulture-like creature raised it's head and turned it towards Patrick. The red eyes which fell on him looked as they were on fire, glowing, ungracious, it's glance like lightning. "Jesus Christ", Patrick whispered as he stared into the burning, yet cold eyes of the creature.
As it closed it's beak, the paralyzing sound stopped again and Dean quickly acted on instinct. He jumped to his feet, raised his arm, pointed his .45 directly at the bald head of the bird and shot, fully intending to empty the whole clip into the feathered nightmare. Patrick joined him with a cry of pure rage, sending bullet after bullet into the creature's body. Seth knelt beside the truck with and sent shotgun rounds into the bird, snarling in an rather inhuman way.
The impact of the rounds brought the bird to jerk and let it take a few steps back. It croaked angrily, but to the hunters' horror it seemed rather unimpressed by the human assault. It stood up to it's full height and flapped it's monstrous wings, glaring down at the two men. Before Dean had a chance to duck down one of the wings knocked him off his feet, sending him hard on his back, his head hitting the dry ground. Through his blurry vision he saw the bird approaching, bouncing clumsily in his direction on it's thick ugly legs.
"Dean! Get up! Move!" Patrick called while he hastily reloaded his gun, cursing when first the bullets, than the magazine fell out of his shaking hands. "Dammit! Calm down, CALM DOWN!"
The second Dean's vision cleared he saw the bird standing above him. A cry of pain escaped his lips as it pinned him to ground, one of it's talons digging into his left shoulder. With his teeth clenched he felt for his knife, turning his head away from the creature which was now lurking above him face to face, as if it was reading his facial features.
For a tiny moment, the bird went still. An almost enchanted noise escaped from it, and if Dean wouldn't know it better he could have sworn that this thing was mesmerized by something about or on him.
Using the distraction, Dean raised his knife. "Get...off me...you...mite cab...!" he spat and drove it right into the bird's calf, forcing it to croak again and stumble off him. The instant he was free from the impaling talon he rolled away as quickly as possible, pressing his hand to his shoulder.
In his attempt to escape he forgot the cliff's edge completely.
As Dean rolled over the edge he heard Patrick yell. His name? Or was he calling for help? Wondering if that stunt he just had pulled off had been smart while thudding over rocks and undergrowth his world went dark.
Sam stared down at his empty beer bottle, not quite seeing it, turning it between his fingers.
"Can I get you another one? Let's say, as a farewell present?" Ellen asked, throwing a dish cloth over her shoulder and propping herself on the sink.
Sam looked up and smiled. "Thanks Ellen, but I think I had enough farewell presents tonight." He looked over his shoulder and glanced at the few guests housing the Roadhouse to this evening hour. It was nearly 7 pm and except for Sam there were just two bulky men occupying the pool table and a lonesome guy at a table in the corner, studying a map.
He returned his gaze to his beer bottle and sighed. It had been a couple of hours since he and Dean had said their goodbyes to each other. They had put up a good fight, both of them, no heavy sadness or tears from Sam, no angry, sullen words from Dean, just two grown-up men with the usual "See ya around!"-attitudes. But now Sam couldn't deny his heartache, as if something had broken away from him. And although it had been his decision, right now he wondered if it had been the right one.
"Anything else I can do to cheer you up a bit?" Ellen tried again, pulling Sam out of his absent-mindedness. "When is your bus going to depart anyway?"
"Uh...in about an hour", Sam replied, glancing at his watch. The bus station wasn't far, he would be able to walk the short distance. And this little walk would be the beginning to help him cope with a heavy, painful task – to close his personal chapter of hunting. Again. And this time, hopefully, forever.
Ellen nodded towards a backpack and a duffle bag resting on the floor, "And this is your luggage? Not much for a guy who tries to make a restart of his life."
"Yeah. My whole life fits in a duffle and a backpack – it would be funny if it weren't so sad, don't you think?" Sam snorted and ran a hand through his hear.
"Seriously, Sam – are you alright? Are you sure about this? I mean, it's none of my business, really, but..."
"I'm sure, I really am, Ellen, I brood over this for quite some time now and...it's what I want. And Dean...he'll get over it. See, he's already on the road again, hunting down some Wendigos with a couple of guys he barely knows. He won't miss me much."
"Well, if I wouldn't knew you better I'd say you're jealous", Ellen teased and poured some Whiskey into two shot glasses. "One more farewell present won't do any harm. Cheers!"
"I'm not jealous", Sam protested as he grabbed the shot glass and downed the drink. "And now I better hit the road before you get me drunk."
Sam slid off the bar stool and put his jacket on before he stepped up to the woman he had taken to his heart in this short amount of time since his Dad's death and hugged her.
"Thank you, for everything", he whispered in her hair, "And keep an eye on my big pain-in-the-ass brother from time to time, would you?"
"I will, Sam, I promise. And you take care of yourself. Keep in touch, you hear me? Don't be a stranger and give me a call once in a while, or I might visit sunny California and kick your butt!"
They loosened their embrace and Sam grabbed his stuff, ready to leave. On his way to the door he turned and grinned, "I think I'm going to send you a nice little postcard with an image of the ocean and the message ‚This is where I'm working!' on it."
"Get the hell out, Sam Winchester!" Ellen laughed, threatening Sam with her dish cloth.
Before Sam could reach the door they heard someone yelling outside, followed by the sounds of someone stumbling onto the porch. As the door flew open a guy stood in the doorway, panting, sweating, clearly out of it. Dirt covered his face and clothes, his hair was disheveled. He took an unsteady step inside and stopped, leaning heavily against the door jamb.
"Help! I...I...help..." he breathed as he took another step forward.
Sam dropped his stuff and caught the exhausted man as his knees buckled and he was about to fall flat on his face. The guy from the corner who had spent his evening with a map was beside Sam in seconds and helped carrying the shaking bundle towards the bar.
The two men at the pool table had stopped their game and watched the scene with their mouths agape before Ellen ushered them out of the Roadhouse, "Okay, closing time, guys, thanks for coming and please grace us with you presence again!"
Sam and the map-guy helped the troubled man to sit on the floor up against the bar. He was still shuddering and gasping for air.
„Easy there, we've gotcha", Sam soothed and tried to catch the man's eyes with his. Suddenly it hit him. He knew this guy. This was one of the hunters Dean had joined for this Wendigo hunt – there had been three of them, him, a guy Dean's age and a younger kid with long hair.
Sam's mouth went desert dry.
To be continued ...