Hey y'all :):):).
So here I am with another one shot (I've really gotta stop writing these) and this one is also ridiculously long lol.
Summary:- During a hunt, a situation takes a turn for the worse when the brothers find themselves literally hanging onto each other for dear life: "I've got you. I won't let go."
This is most certainly a limp!Sam and majorly hurt!Dean fic with lots of brotherly love throughout. I love the brothers equally (they're both awesome!) and Dean's protectiveness as a big brother merged with Sam's sweetness as a little brother is what prompted the fic.
I don't think I put the brothers' ages in the story, but just so you know: Dean is 17 and Sam is 13.
I've rated it a little higher for the use of one f-bomb: trust me, the situation does call for it :)
It was pretty difficult to write in places -gulp-, but I hope you all enjoy it! :P
It was close. Holy shit, it was way too close. A second later, one slight delayed reaction and he would have missed his opportunity. One hesitation and his brother would have been beyond his grasp.
Dean shook his head, trying to rid his mind of the torturous thoughts. One arm was braced flat against his side, fingers pointing towards his feet and digging an inch deep into the dirt. His lower body was flattened against the ground, his steel capped boots likewise pointing down hard into the floor, anchoring him. He grunted slightly as the weight below him shifted and his fingers curled tighter, tight enough to leave bruises on the pale skin of Sam's wrist.
Green eyes met hazels with sincerity in the rising sun, promising in one look that everything was going to be fine. And Sam, with unwavering faith, believed him: his big brother had never lied to him before.
"Shit," Dean eventually mumbled, breaking the gaze he held with the youngest Winchester. His torso was half hanging over the edge of the cliff ledge, looming ominously over a definite fatal drop. More than once, his panicked stare flicked to the sight below: a montage of forest with a winding river that looked way too small beneath them: "Shit."
"T-That bad huh?"
Dean's eyes snapped back to Sam's face, a wavering smile greeting him. He watched as Sam stretched forwards, fingers scrabbling uselessly at the tumbling rock as they struggled to find purchase. The small boy's legs swung outwards to try and pendulum himself towards safety. White pain ignited within Dean and the elder brother gasped as his shoulder shifted painfully, tugging him forwards an inch. Sam instantly stopped moving.
"Sorry, sorry," Sam cried instantly, eyes wide and tearful at the agonised expression he had placed on Dean's face. He stilled, his hand remaining grasped tightly around the sleeve of his brother's leather jacket. Relaxing slightly at the familiar texture beneath his skin, the younger brother studied the cliff intently, searching for a handhold.
Dean shook his head, sweat beading on his forehead as the exertion took its toll. Sam wasn't particularly heavy he knew, in fact for his age he was on the small side. Thank God he is, Dean exclaimed silently, muscles tensing as he continued to brace his brother's weight. If Sam had weighed any more, the elder brother was sure he would have been pulled straight over the edge along with him.
"Sam," he forced out, gritting his teeth as he attempted to bend his elbow and drag himself upright. "You see anything you can grab a hold of down there?"
Brow furrowing, Sam glanced around in desperation, hearing the underlying note of exhaustion in his brother's resilient tone. He knew that Dean was strong but even their Dad would have struggled to hold his body weight over a cliff edge for a long period of time. With this in mind, hazel orbs locked instantly onto a small ledge a few inches above him. It wasn't a perfect handhold, but it could give him the leverage he needed to ease Dean's burden and get them both to safety.
Swallowing, forcing his voice to remain steady, Sam replied, "Yeah, there's a ledge above me, but I don't think I can reach it yet." The implied 'and I don't want to try it in case I drag you over as well' was left unspoken but well received by the elder boy.
"Okay," Dean breathily said, giving his sibling a sharp grin of approval. "That's great, Sam. Right, I'm gonna start pulling you up and as soon as you can, I want you to grab the ledge. You got that?"
Nodding hesitantly, afraid that too much movement would unbalance them, Sam felt Dean's hand clench in preparation for what was to come. With the worried but determined stare watching him from above, the younger hunter allowed a look of pure trust and faith to form before his protector. "I'm ready."
Without further hesitation, aware of what wasted time would cost them, Dean forced his elbow to bend fully. His muscles strained with the effort of wrenching his torso over the ledge, followed swiftly by the weight of his baby brother hanging off the cliff. His breath burst from him in hitching huffs, chest aching from the aftermath of his dive to catch Sammy as he fell. Bruising was going to be a bitch when they got back to the motel, because they were getting back, no matter what.
Sam winced as he heard the sound of his brother's struggles above him, hating how ineffectual he was being in their attempts to reach safe ground. But, he could pride himself on being a patient person and, already beginning to tense, he waited for the rock ledge to enter his range. Unwillingly, his legs kicked out slightly, scraping at the rock face and knocking loose pebbles in his attempts to escape gravity's pull.
"Hold on Sam," came Dean's strained reply to his involuntary reaction. Sam instantly calmed, knowing that his brother would keep him safe as he always had throughout their lives. "We're almost there…"
Judging the ledge to be within arm's reach, Sam lunged, swinging his body forward with incredible flexibility and strength on both of the brothers' parts. For a heart stopping moment, the boy's slim fingers grappled at nothing, unable to lock in place and support his suspended frame. But then, with classic Winchester stubbornness, they dug into the rock, fingernails cracking as Sam held on for all he was worth.
Dean held his position, heart racing as he felt his brother jerk slightly in his hold before settling, "Sammy, you good?" In answer, the weight he had so willingly carried lessened and Dean let out a sigh of relief, "Thank God."
"Dean?" The voice sounded young, but Dean couldn't help but praise his brother for managing to keep the fearful waver out of his tone. It was obvious that he was scared – hell, Dean's pulse was still sky rocketing after seeing the ground vanish beneath Sam's feet before he started falling. He didn't think that he would ever get that awful memory out of his head.
With a sudden urge to edge closer to the ledge in a bid to glimpse Sam's face again, Dean scowled as he realised it was impossible. Any wrong movement and his composure would be lost: they'd be back to square one. Tightening his grip on the slim wrist, smiling as he felt small fingers mimic his actions, he called back, "Yeah, Sammy. Don't worry, I'm not gonna let you go."
With a similar grin, despite the fact that Dean couldn't see him, Sam replied softly, "I know you won't."
Above him, Dean began shifting into a better position. His arm remained firmly in place by his side, anchoring the two and preventing them from slipping any further. Glancing around, wondering if help happened to be arriving in the presence of John Winchester, the elder brother almost laughed at himself. Help when we need it. Yeah, since when's that ever happened before?
"Okay Sammy," he called out, realising how close they were now to safety. It was his job and his alone to get Sam out and he wasn't going to screw it up now. "On three, you're gonna pull yourself up on that ledge. I still gotcha kiddo, alright?"
"Okay. One, two," he steeled himself, hearing the stones grate beneath him as he moved, "three!"
At his brother's shout, Sam was tugged forcefully upwards, faltering for a moment before remembering his own task. His arms shook as he pulled himself upwards, his legs still dangling scarily beneath him. He panted heavily, the handhold he was gripping so desperately appearing at eye level. Huffing out another breath, the youngest Winchester wrenched himself higher, the hand around his wrist never relenting in its struggles.
For a second, relief flooded his mind, overwhelming the panic that had previously been threatening to suffocate him. Dean had saved him again. They were gonna make it…
Hazel eyes widened to incredible proportions as Sam's head snapped straight ahead to locate the source of the noise. His breath caught in his throat, heart pounding furiously against his chest as he noticed the rapidly expanding crack forming around the ledge he was clinging onto. He froze for a moment, too stunned to do much else. Above him, Dean continued attempting to drag him to safety, completely unaware that their ideal scenario of rescue was rapidly waning with each passing second.
"D-Dean," Sam finally forced out, his mouth dry as the ledge beneath his fingers fractured further. Tears welled in his eyes, a much too young expression on his face as he realised what was about to happen.
On the cliff top, Dean felt his brother freeze and frowned. A moment later, the tentative sound of his name rose to his ears. Senses of red alert, he held his stance, no longer pulling Sam higher. "Sam? Sammy, what's wrong?"
Unable to force out another sound, mouth gaping uselessly, Sam watched as the ledge shifted once more. It seemed to happen in slow motion, the crack widening until the rock could support him no longer. His throat worked convulsively, trying to scream out a warning, but nothing happened.
Weightlessness gripped him once more and Sam dropped abruptly.
The elder brother listened to the sounds of heavy breathing below, his worry amounting as Sam still refused to answer him. Opening his mouth to call out again, a resounding crack shook the cliff beneath him. Then, the arm he'd been holding pitched downwards, catching Dean off guard and dragging him forward with incredible speeds.
Yelping in surprise, the elder brother's free hand scrabbled futilely for something to grab onto to stop their descent. Something coarse scraped against his skin and he was instantly latching onto it, even as his body was heaved over the cliff edge. He watched in horror as the forest below became visible once more and realised that in a few moments, he was about to become a lot better acquainted with it.
The object he was holding seemed to fall with them for a brief second before it held strong. Dean grunted as his body was flipped over so that he was now upright, the hand that was gripping Sam's wrist now tight enough to cut off the blood supply. As one, the brothers were lurched to a sudden stop, dangling precariously above their demise some hundred feet below.
Blood was pumping in his ears, heart lodged somewhere in his throat and blocking his airways. Dean exhaled steadily, trying to control his raging emotions before he tilted his head upwards. The cliff edge was a few inches away from his hand that was wrapped firmly around several plant roots. He grimaced as dirt flittered onto his face, their makeshift handhold clearly a few minutes away from joining them in their inevitable plummet.
"Damn it," he murmured, the aching shoulder straining painfully, stepping closer and closer to dislocation. Alarmed fingers suddenly began burrowing into his arm, distracting him. Twisting, Dean glanced downwards, meeting a pair of dewy, shocked eyes blinking up at him. Unable to quite muster a smile considering the situation, he sighed. "Man, I hate heights."
A watery laugh withered out of Sam's lips and he sniffed loudly. "Y-Yeah, ditto."
The two stared at each other for a long while, both trying to comfort but ultimately yearning for comfort in return. This was bad, and from their twin expressions, they knew it.
The younger brother's grasp slipped for a moment, but Dean held him fast. "Sam, hold on damn it! I got you."
A harsh scraping noise forced the two to redirect their gazes, gazing in terror as the roots slid through the edge of the cliff before jerking to a stop again. Dean turned his head away as more dirt landed on his sweat-soaked brow, ultimately forcing his stare down at the petrifying plunge below. Oh God.
"You know how people say 'it can't get any worse'?" the younger brother hedged shakily, intentionally forcing the shimmering green eyes away from the source of their fears. "I think they were lying."
Dean chuckled darkly. "Ya think little brother?" But his eyes were grateful as they locked onto Sam's. He read the pure fear in the younger sibling's face, the hairs on his arms already rising in anger at an expression that he deemed should never be there. "Look, I'll get us out of this Sam. Trust me, okay?"
Their handhold descended momentarily again and automatically, Dean's fingers clenched harder around Sam's wrist. He heard the boy hiss in pain, felt bones fracture beneath his grip but, other than biting his lip, he kept his stare focussed solely above them. When there appeared to be no further signs of movement, the tension in Dean's shoulders lessened a fraction, his chin falling and thumping against his chest.
"Dean, it's not gonna hold both of us, is it?"
No. "It'll hold, Sam."
Closing his eyes for a moment, Sam shuddered as a breeze whistled past them. He tilted with as little movement as possible, trying not to aggravate Dean's shoulder or the strength of the roots any further. The fall below was probably a fatal one, he'd guessed that already. The actual descent alone was dire enough, but coupled with numerous branches that would bar their path they'd most likely be dead before they even hit the ground.
A miniscule whimper rumbled in his throat and he forced it down. His Dad would tell him to 'suck it up,' to 'be a man' and for once in his life, Sam was going to actually take the eldest hunter's tiresome advice. He lifted his head, taking in the sorrowful form of his brother hanging above him, chin still on his chest as his brain searched for some solution for an impossible situation.
Inhaling erratically, Sam replied, "I know you're lying, Dean." The elder brother didn't raise his head, but Sam could feel the dread rolling off of him in waves. "And it's okay, I know you did the best you could." His thoughts drifted to his father and he spared a fleeting glance towards the cliff edge as though he would suddenly appear, knowing it was a futile hope.
But still, the absence of his father's powerful frame standing above them sent a cold spear through his chest. His stare dropped back to his loyal protector, "Dad's not gonna find us, is he?"
No. "He'll come for us."
"Not soon enough." Dean raised his head tiredly, jaw clenching as he fought the despair within. "But he'll find you, Dean. That's all that matters to me."
Brow furrowing at the ambiguous words, Dean felt the grasp around his wrist suddenly vanish. His world seemed to stop spinning as he felt the skin beneath his sweat slicked palm slide away. As though a switch had been flicked, he screamed.
Stretching outwards, his nails curled, digging agonisingly into the top of Sam's hand. His body jerked as Sam's descent was halted once again by a defiant older sibling. The roots creaked, dipping them another few centimetres before they too held in place.
Pain ignited through his abused shoulder and Dean fought against it furiously. Finally controlling the agony, Dean turned, sending a livid glare at his tearful brother below. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"
Glinting emeralds flickered briefly to the trails of blood racing down Sam's hand. He winced slightly at the realisation that his nails, now buried deeply in the reddened flesh, were the cause of such pain. But he brushed away the guilt with ease. A few cuts I can deal with so long as he's still breathing.
Chestnut curls bounced into the young boy's eyes as he shook his head sadly. "Dean, those roots aren't gonna hold both of us, you know that! You have to let me go."
"No way Sam."
"You have to or we'll both fall!"
As though proving Sam's point, the two dipped again as the roots creaked and groaned, struggling to cling onto the cliff face. Dean's face contorted as they dangled lower and lower, his body screeching in him in protest at the trials he was putting it through. Again, their support held strong allowing their inescapable fates to taunt them once more.
Ensuring that they were secure for the moment, the elder hunter snarled, "And I don't care, Sam."
Hazel eyes flashed in retaliation, a trait that was more often seen by John Winchester than his eldest. "Well, I do."
Their gazes remained entwined; both determined to make the other back down first. It didn't matter that they were currently seconds away from plummeting to their deaths. It was a battle of wills between two stubborn Winchesters who, when it came to one another's safety, would never back down.
Never glancing away, Sam spoke first. His look softened however, almost to the point where it was pleading. The puppy dog eyes were out in full force as he practically begged for Dean to save himself, just this once. "Dean, please, let me go."
Even as the tears rolled down the younger brother's face, even as the smaller hand loosened its grip again so that it was only Dean preventing him from falling, Dean shook his head. "No, Sammy. Just… don't you dare ask that of me."
"No," came the forceful reply, grip tightening harder. He was sure his nails were scraping the bones in Sam's hands by now and the wince on younger boy's face seemed to confirm it, but he wasn't letting go. It was never going to happen.
A crack above them made both of their heads snap upwards in unison. Where the roots were peeking out from the cliff, the rock was beginning to break off around it. Dirt rained in a fountain down on them and Dean cursed as his grip on Sam loosened again, nails tearing through skin as he held on.
"Dean, let go!"
The hoarse scream beneath him only forced his grip tighter, until his hand had become a vice. Tears rose in his eyes, blurring his vision as the rock continued to shatter above him. Shit. Here we go.
"It's okay, Sammy," he whispered, looking down at his baby brother with only affection in his eyes. "I've got you. I won't let go."
Sam held Dean's gaze, feeling the cliff shudder as their only support began to break away. He wanted to keep arguing, to force Dean to release him and drag himself to safety, but he knew it was too late. They were going down together, as they had always said they would.
Achingly, hand and wrist throbbing from their maltreatment, the youngest Winchester coiled his fingers back around the sleeve of Dean's leather jacket. Neither spoke; there was nothing left to say that they didn't already know. Lips quirking at the corners, Dean nodded at Sam as though asking if he was ready. His answer was never given.
A final cracking sound rent the air before gravity claimed them both, hauling them bodily down towards the ground so far beneath them.
With wide eyes, the air ripping back his eyelids so that he would see everything, Dean maintained his grip on his best friend. He heard Sam's terror filled screams while they fell, his chest aching at what he knew he was hearing were his brother's death cries.
He felt the cold stinging metal of his bowie knife against his back, remembering how many times it had saved him in the past. The trees loomed closer, his brother's skin warm against his own as they plummeted to meet them.
Any second now…
But every fibre of his being was telling him to fight, to protect Sammy as he always had through his life. He knew, deep inside that there was nothing he could do, but as a Winchester, he had to try. No matter the odds, so long as you give it your best shot, you die in an honourable way as a true hunter.
With that in mind, Dean gritted his teeth, forcing his free arm back behind him and fighting against the air resistance. Tugging up his jacket, his fingers scrabbled at the knife handle. The blade cut into his skin as he freed it from the back of his jeans and brought it out in front of him.
Then they collided.
With Sam below him, Dean cried out in anguish as his brother hit the first tree branch. The teenager's body bounced limply off the hard wood and Dean's heart raced at the broken image. Twisting to avoid the very same branch, the elder brother dragged the boy's arm closer through the air. In desperation as countless twigs sliced through exposed flesh, he succeeded in manhandling him to his chest. His chin nestled in the fluttering brown locks and they both continued their torturous descent.
As one, they hit another branch and Dean winced when his injured shoulder took the brunt. Finally, after so much toil, it dislocated fully and he yelled in agony. He rolled, body wrapped around the unconscious boy's as they dropped again. Grunting, he forced the wounded arm to wrap tightly around Sam's chest and under his arms, holding him forcefully in place.
They hit another, and another. They were mostly glancing blows that spun the pair around as their flailing limbs crashed into them. Dean groaned as he felt instant bruises forming along his skin and, despite his best efforts, he knew that Sam wasn't going to be spared them either. Another hit, in which Sam's chest and Dean's dislocated arm were the receivers, knocked them away from the outlying branches.
Emerald eyes locked on the looming trunk as they twirled in the air and with startling accuracy, Dean swung out with the knife. It thumped as it buried down to hilt in the bark, slicing down the length of the tree as they continued to fall regardless.
"Come on!" he roared, Sam's deadweight a worrisome burden against his chest as the knife did little to stop them. Face contorting in pain and anger, Dean powerfully twisted the knife so that it lodged fully into the bark's notches. His stomach leapt as their plunge was brought to a sudden end, his legs swinging outwards as he yet again found himself hanging by one hand. His other shoulder jerked painfully and he screeched as he felt the bone twist before settling back awkwardly into place.
At first, he'd forgotten how to breathe, ribs thundering up and down so fast that he was afraid he was going to give himself a coronary.
"Sam?" he asked tentatively, still gripping Sam tightly to him. Trying to keep as still as possible, even as a constant throb found its way through his spine, he bowed his head forward. "Sammy?"
From this angle, he could see the caked blood along the left side of Sam's face; the tightly closed eyes a clear consequence. Cussing to himself, he spoke again, knowing that head injuries were nothing to mess around with. He struggled to increase his hold, concern spiking as he felt something in Sam's chest shift with the action.
Broken ribs? Shit.
Before he could attempt to wake Sam again, the bark of the trunk splintered, preparing to give way beneath the blade's edge. "Are you kidding me?" spat Dean in absolute disbelief, his battered fingers twitching on the handle of the knife.
Splitting in two, the knife continued to harshly cleave through the trunk. Dean squeezed his eyes closed in preparation for another nauseating drop, but there was no harsh whipping of air or butterflies attacking each other in his stomach. Warily, he opened one eye, frowning as the surrounding trees seemed to be moving much slower than he had expected. He glanced back at the knife, noticing the deep groove it was steadily carving in the outer layer of the trunk and he exhaled in respite.
Shooting a dark look up towards the sky, the elder hunter murmured, "Nice to know you're not too busy." As way of answer, the knife seemed to hitch slightly to one side when it lodged in a particularly stubborn piece of bark. Dean held his breath for a moment, before the blade continued its merciless slaughter of the tree's trunk.
Lowering his now concerned gaze to the figure in his trembling arm, he lowered his voice soothingly. "Sammy, can you hear me kiddo?"
There was no response.
The knife caught on another notch in the wood and Dean cursed as his grasp loosened considerably. His blood and sweat covered fingers scrabbled for a moment, before completely abandoning all purchase on the handle.
The two brothers dropped the last remaining feet to the forest floor, Dean's legs instantly giving out beneath him. He keeled over onto his back and Sam landed sprawled on top of him, still unmoving.
Squeezing his eyes closed against the pain that had seemed to enter every pore of his body, Dean listened carefully for his brother's breathing over the nearby sound of rushing water. He felt the thundering heart underneath his limp arm and a moment later, the wheezing breaths followed.
With amounting effort, Dean attempted to sit up. Blinding pain erupted from his spine and shoulders and he instantly slumped to the floor again. White dots sparkled in his vision as he felt consciousness preparing to flee.
Curling his fingers in Sam's shirt, he kicked out with his feet, managing to drag them both along the floor to the base of the tree. Sweat trickled down his brow, pooling on his upper lip and filling his mouth with a salty taste. His head spun as shock decided to burrow deep within and he hissed when he finally bumped against the coarse bark.
"We're okay, Sam," he gasped, heaving with desperate breaths. Forcing his hand beneath him, the warning strain across his back making him pause, Dean pushed himself upright. He cried out as agony cut through him and for a moment, his vision tunnelled completely. "Ah shit…"
The rush of adrenaline had now faded and it left the older boy feeling more vulnerable that ever. All of the injuries he had accumulated from the fall had chosen to strike him at once and he was fighting with all he had to stay conscious for Sammy's sake.
His heart was still racing, threatening to tear through ribs and burst forth from his chest. He swallowed slowly, pains that he didn't even know existed bringing themselves dominantly to the forefront of his mind. A shiver worked its way through his frame, his spine involuntarily arching and jostling the compliant body in front of him.
A wounded cry rumbled in his throat as his dislocated shoulder shifted further. His hand, numb from lack of blood, thumped uselessly against the floor by his side, abandoning its duty to hold Sam close to him. The other arm; bruised, cut and strained into a useless limb, furtively remained in its clamped position around the youngest Winchester.
"Remember when there was such a thing as a simple hunt Sam?" he hedged, forcing his legs to spread so that Sam could nestle safely between them, his back resting heavily against Dean's bruised chest. The elder brother shifted, cursing loudly as his vision faded to white for a brief second.
"Son of a bitch!"
Spine giving out in its stubborn pose, Dean's head fell back, thumping cruelly against the bark. Emerald eyes blinked lethargically, staring blankly at the branches looming so ominously overhead. He managed to narrow his lids a fraction, aiming a pointed glare towards the innocent looking tree that had caused such hurt to his brother.
He was startled out of his reverie as the smaller frame in front of him lurched forward. A sound, a horrific rasping noise, erupted from Sam's abused chest as he coughed violently. Dean gritted his teeth, beating his spine into submission until he was able to lower his head to assess his brother.
"Sam?" he tried, the arm that was locked around his brother managing a minute shake of comfort. But the young teenager continued to hack, body seeming to crumple forwards. "Sammy?"
Leaning closer, Dean managed to plant his chin atop the shaking mop of hair. He flinched involuntarily as something warm splattered along his arm, but he didn't dare look down. Sam was still choking in front of him: he could give a good guess at what it was that now covered his skin.
"Ssh, Sam," he finally managed, voice wavering as the younger brother continued to struggle. He wanted to do something, to lunge forward and perform every piece of medical mumbo-jumbo that he knew. But he doubted that his meagre knowledge would make any difference and, in Dean's current condition, he had no chance of even attempting proper first aid.
Tears welled in his eyes as Sam writhed in front of him, harsh whimpers wrenching themselves free of his throat. Dean could feel the broken chest constantly shifting with each movement, steadily causing more and more internal damage to his brother's frail body. Please Sammy, just stay still.
"You're okay, I'm here," he whispered, more red liquid dripping from open lips, contrasting with their bluish tinge. Dean felt the droplets splash across his compliant arm, still linked protectively around Sam's chest. He tugged his little brother back lightly, stretching his body and freeing his lungs. "Sam, you need to calm down. Just breathe with me, okay?"
Sam said nothing, the awful choking noises reaching an apparent crescendo. With astounding willpower, Dean drew in a deep inhale, ignoring the painful twinge of his shoulder and back as he did so. Holding the air in for a moment, he released it again steadily. "You feel that, Sammy? Just copy me: in, out, in, out."
At first, Sam seemed unable to hear him. But finally, after a few false starts, a sharp wheezing sound filled the air. Dean felt the young boy's back arch as he fought with his abused ribs, dragging much needed oxygen into his chest. The elder brother exhaled, releasing the breath he was holding before Sam followed his lead obediently.
"That's it, little brother," he smiled, inhaling again and feeling Sam mimic him. "That's it, I got you."
They sat like that for a while. Dean continued to breathe in a regulated rhythm, pushing away to comforting darkness that continued to stretch out cold fingers for him. Cradled tightly against him, Sam strained to imitate his brother's breathing and more than once, his chest stopped working altogether.
Dean froze as Sam stopped breathing for the fourth time, eyes wide in horror before the teenager heaved in another painful breath. He opened his mouth to say something, anything, but his throat had closed up as the disquieting realisation found its way into his mind.
This is bad.
Something suddenly shuddered against Dean's leg and he jumped in surprise. Sam, on instant reaction to the movement, wretched violently, ribs grating together in utter agony beneath his bruised skin. It took every ounce of strength that Dean had to brace him and stop him from face-planting the forest floor.
"Shit! Sam? Sammy? Come on, it's okay. Keep breathing with me. You got this, Sam, you're okay kiddo."
With a tenderness that often betrayed his impassive persona, Dean eased his brother back into his hold. The constant mantra of 'you're okay' and 'that's it' streamed from his mouth as he rested Sam's trembling back against him. Controlling his own rising pulse, Dean placed his lips purposefully beside Sam's ear, whispering quiet assurances while coaxing the youngest Winchester back into a steady rhythm of breathing.
The inhales were much more ragged this time, jarring with each breath of air. Worry clouding his young face, Dean forced his slightly less wounded arm to hold on a little tighter. You're gonna be fine, Sammy. I won't let anything happen to you.
The vibration started up against his leg again and Dean realised that he hadn't even noticed it had stopped. It took him a second to even register what it was, and even then he found it hard to believe that it had survived such a brutal drop.
Worth every penny, he mused dully to himself, readying himself for another bout of agony.
Continuing to murmur his support, frowning as Sam's head seemed to droop lower to his chest, Dean tenderly removed his arm from around the younger brother's body. Raw pain sparked through his shoulder and he grunted, biting down so hard on his lip that he was almost certain it would draw blood. But, persistent as a Winchester always should be, Dean managed to slip his hand into his jeans pocket and retrieve his ringing phone.
He idly noticed that his hand was shaking while he forced it to rise towards his head. Every muscle was screeching in protest, nerves on edge and warning him to take it slow. At this point, he had little care for caution.
Fingers fumbling on the buttons, Dean blinked rapidly to clear his blurred vision. It took a few tries and he reprimanded himself for the desperate need to pass out. Finally, he managed to locate the right one, pressing it with violent force before holding the phone next to his ear.
"H-Hello?" he attempted, swallowing around the expanding lump in his throat.
"Dean!" It was his father's voice, undoubtedly. He could recognise that tone of sheer authority anywhere. Dean sighed in relief, resisting the urge to let his head fall back again against the bark, "Dean, where the hell are you?"
Furrowing his brows at the question, the elder brother tilted his head, glancing around with unconcealed curiosity. Everything looked the same from where he was sitting; tree after tree. I have no idea. "Good question."
"… What happened?"
Opening his mouth to reply, Dean was cut off when Sam gasped in front of him. The small teenager's body seemed to stiffen for a moment, before he began to convulse violently. Hoarse whines rent the air as Sam struggled with the pain and lack of oxygen, unable to stave off the shock any longer.
"Sam!" The youngest hunter's body listed suddenly, but with the phone still in his only working hand, Dean was unable to catch him. Hissing at the pull on his back, Dean dragged his legs upwards, enveloping Sam tightly between them and trying to restrain his thrashing limbs.
It was a futile effort.
Sam continued to flail against him, neck flinging back and forcing his head to slam mercilessly against Dean's collarbone. Wincing, the elder brother dropped the phone by his side, ignoring his own anguish as he forced his arm to wrap back around Sam's torso. He looked down in horror, watching as hazel orbs began to roll back, flashing white.
Vaguely, Dean could hear his father shouting down the phone, but he couldn't answer. His focus was entirely on his brother while he twitched against him, thick trails of blood running from the corners of his mouth and down his chin.
He knew that there was nothing he could do. He just had to wait until the… the seizure, or whatever the hell it was, rode out before he could try to help his little brother. And that was, quite possibly, the worst thing in the world.
Seconds, that seemed to drag on like hours, ticked on by. Protectively, Dean remained hunched over his brother, legs surrounding the younger boy on either side while one numb arm rested warmly over his heart. His lips moved to form silent words, not quite capable of making a sound. Then, like a puppet whose strings had been cut, Sam slumped entirely in the older hunter's hold.
"Sammy?" Dean's tired voice murmured, his fears abated at the feeling of his brother's heartbeat beneath against his own chest. Hesitantly, he shifted his knees, consequently causing Sam's head to drop to the side. "Oh God, Sam…"
"Dean! Dean, answer me god damn it!"
Clumsily, too stunned to react to the pain, Dean grasped the phone and lifted it to his ear again. Inhaling shakily, he leant forward, resting his chin lovingly atop the bedraggled chestnut locks. "Y-Yeah," he replied, unable to prevent the crack in his voice. "I'm here."
A long exhale, no doubt in relief at being answered, whistled through the phone. "Dean, are you and Sammy okay?"
The concern in his father's usually stoic speech puzzled him for a moment, before he sobered. With the soothing feel of his brother's pulse against him, Dean fought to control what he knew to be an intensifying tidal wave of emotions. "No. Dad, it's… it's pretty bad."
"Okay, son," the gruff voice eventually replied, his tone of voice informing Dean that it was anything but okay. "Tell me where you are."
"I don't know," he responded quickly, hating being so ineffective at such a crucial time. Raising his head an inch, the tips of Sam's curls tickling his chin, he glanced around for any indication of where they'd ended up. After all, it was one hell of a huge cliff – it could take their Dad hours to find them.
Hours we don't have, taunted the solemn thought, his legs applying further pressure around Sam's body. He outright refused to let his brother fall again, regardless of the pitiful distance that was left for him to fall. The broken figure trembled at the movement, before becoming completely motionless once more.
"Dad, Sammy's really hurt and I-I don't know what to do."
"It's gonna be alright son. I'll start heading topside for you and…"
"No," Dean murmured sorrowfully, not yet having the heart to tell John what had happened to them at this moment. "No, don't."
Emerald eyes, blinking back tears that Dean couldn't even be bothered to deny were there, lowered to the plain figure slumped against him. Comforting words from his father echoed absently around his eardrums while he remained entirely fixated on Sam's juddering chest.
"Sam," he whispered; a question, a plea, or a statement? Even he wasn't sure now.
"Dean, listen to me buddy. You've got to focus. Is there anything close to you that could help me find you?" The voice paused for a moment, giving Dean the time to regroup and concentrate on what was being asked of him. "Think carefully, Dean."
The elder brother twisted slightly, glancing around with an obvious air of exhaustion. His eyelids fluttered for a second, threatening to shut before he angrily forced them wide again. His head spun, causing his stomach to roll unpleasantly at the stinging sensations that continually pulsed through his body. Unconsciousness would not be denied for much longer and Dean knew it.
All he could see were trees, each one cruelly identical to the next. "There's nothing, Dad," he replied, a tone of defeat creeping into his weary voice. Slowly, he lowered his chin back to its comfortable resting position atop Sam's head, unwittingly allowing his eyes to close. He listened attentively to his brother's breathing, to the swaying and rustling of the leaves, to the sound of the racing river a small distance away…
Eyes snapped open, heart missing a beat as the thought struck him. "Dad, t-the river, it's nearby. We must've landed near one of its meanders." Pure relief filled him completely and he wilted slightly, leaning back against the tree. As ambiguous as the information was, the river was a pretty widespread one and it wouldn't be too difficult to locate the nearest meander to the cliff.
"Dean. What do you mean 'landed'?"
The relief was filled instantly with a cold feeling of dread; one so strong that it even managed to nullify the pains in his shoulders and back. He gulped, legs drawing closer to his body and hugging Sam tighter to him. The dark mop of hair rolled back, exposing the younger brother's pale and blood streaked face.
Dean stared at Sam's tightly closed eyes, silently wishing that they would open and grant him the smallest viewing of his brother's puppy dog eyes. But, rather predictably, they stayed closed. The horror of what had happened to them hit him full force in that moment. They had fallen from a cliff, a freaking cliff and through what seemed to be an army of branches.
And they'd survived…
Dean wasn't sure if it was anger or concern he heard in his father's voice, but he knew it left no option but for him to answer. Keeping his eyes on Sam's upturned face as a serious reminder of what had happened he spoke quietly, "I tried to pull him up, Dad."
He hated the way his voice trembled and he hissed, sharply tilting his head away as his eyes began to water furiously. A familiar pain tweaked in his shoulders and he winced visibly, freezing in his movements and trying to prevent further injury. Like Dad won't have enough to deal with already.
"I tried, but the ledge couldn't hold both of our weight. There was… there was nothing I could do. But I swear I didn't let go. I promise I didn't," he insisted desperately. His mind screamed at him for acceptance despite his pathetic inability to save his brother. He needed, somewhere in his muddled and pain-ridden conscience, to be absolved of any blame regarding Sam's injuries.
Please tell me I didn't do this to him.
There was a foreboding silence as John's mind was left to process the horrifying realisation of what his two boys has just gone through. Dean waited in equal quiet, clutching Sam closer until his fast breaths fluttered the light edges of his brother's hair. Sam's body twitched gruesomely again against him and he clutched the broken frame tighter, soothing him.
"God, Dean,"the devastated voice finally answered, all hints of anger eradicated. A heavy sigh, terrified and anxious, met the elder brother's ear and he waited for absolution. "I know you didn't let him go, Dean. I know you'd never do that. Shit! Are you okay?"
An indescribable feeling of liberation washed over Dean and he let out a weak laugh, collapsing back against the tree trunk. His legs hugged Sam to him, pulling the younger boy back so he was comfortably reclining against his big brother.
Jumping, suddenly remembering the question, Dean swallowed. "I'm… I'm a little beat up," he admitted sourly, "but I'll live."
Unconsciously at his own words, emerald eyes trailed down to Sam's lax face: blood splattered and bleached of all colour. He furiously reprimanded himself for the look a moment later, forcing his gaze upwards and away from his injured sibling.
The sound of breaking branches and heavy pants reverberated through the phone line, his father's assertive calls of: 'I'm coming, Dean. Just hold on, son' relaxing his muscles tenderly. His eyelids flickered, head resting dependently against the coarse bark. The phone slid from his fingers, his arm following suit and resting neatly back across Sam's torso.
He blinked at the sky, watching with fascination as the criss-crossing lights of the rising sun cut through the overhanging branches. The scarlet tinted rays divided and split in a magnificent spectrum, twinkling serenely above their heads: a small comfort in what had recently become such a bleak world.
Dean was drifting. His head felt as though it was swimming in murky water, his eyelids dragged down by the sequence of lapping waves against his face. Feeling was beginning to fade: every ache and pain numbing until it became non-existent in his mind.
He was… content.
"De…" A harsh cough rent the peacefulness of their surroundings. It was followed sharply by another, impossibly wet and agonising. A gasping breath in front of him, so awful sounding that he actually winced, forced Dean to open his eyes and retreat from his safe haven.
"Sam?" he whispered, his brother's body shaking cruelly against him. His arm, blissfully numb, attempted to maintain a solid grip on Sam's chest while he forced his head upright. "Sammy?"
Another whimper escaped the younger brother, thin hands scrambling and clutching weakly at Dean's jean-clad thighs. He inhaled raggedly again, Dean comforting him with each breath, before his heart rate began to lower. Bruised and bloody fingers remained coiled tightly in the cloth of the elder Winchester's jeans, the two moving in sync as they both struggled with the severity of their situation.
After a few tense moments of listening to Sam's erratic breathing, Dean tentatively leant forwards, mouth positioned directly next to the tufts of chestnut hair. "Sam? You with me now kiddo?"
Unable to speak with pain and blood paralysing his vocal chords, Sam managed a sharp nod. The young teenager's head spun and he felt his muscles contracting violently in irregular twitches. Hesitantly, glazed hazel eyes opened to the world, bruised lids flickering as they struggled back.
One blink, two blinks…
Sam stared dully at the forest surrounding them. It registered somewhere in his pain-addled mind, that both he and Dean had survived the treacherous fall from the cliff, but he had little time to rejoice before his chest constricted. Spine tensing, the air whooshed from his lungs, followed by a viscous trail of blood. Sam gagged, lips parting wide as a protective presence held him close, ordering him to breathe.
"Sammy! Come on, breathe little brother. You're doing fine. It'll all be over soon, I promise Sam. Just breathe. Breathe Sam!"
But, despite his efforts, the broken ribs and locked chest refused to oblige him. Strangled sobs rent the air, eyes steadily rolling in their sockets. He absently noticed the sounds of the forest beginning to ebb away into an abyss of which he was soon to follow.
"No! Sam! You are not doing this to me… not now!"
Sam felt himself being lowered to the ground, his brother's desperate but agonised movements jostling his pliant body. He felt what might have been Dean's knee nudge his upper arm, before trembling fingers clamped weakly over his nostrils. Blessed air flowed into his lungs, forcing his chest to jerkily inhale and exhale again.
"Come on, S-Sam," whispered the elder brother and Sam felt himself internally frowning at the waver in his words. He attempted to futilely determine whether the stutter was due to emotional or physical duress – Sam would wager it was both.
His chest was forcefully expanded again, but Sam couldn't find the strength to make it work independently. He was spent, too broken and weak to keep fighting anymore. The useless link of the family as always, he lamented.
Something warm dipped onto his face before more air was forced into his body. He heard his brother sniff loudly as he pulled back. A light switch flicked deep within, the youngest Winchester's heart aching at the awful realisation: Dean was crying.
Dean drew back for yet another time, tears racing down his cheeks as he bowed over Sam's pliant frame. Emerald eyes gazed pleadingly down at the expressionless face, praying for a reaction.
"Sam…" he cried softly, leaning in for another breath. His back, wounded and exhausted, gave up all pretence and forced him to keel forward. Dean's forehead bumped hard against Sam's collarbone, remaining their as the exertion took its toll. "Sammy, just breathe, damn it."
Stillness fell over the two, cocooned in their own personal agony. Then, Sam lurched upwards, coughing harshly and dislodging the blood from his throat. Rearing back in shock, Dean hurriedly nudged his sibling onto his side as he retched.
"That's it, Sam, that's it," he murmured repeatedly, not even bothering to wipe away his tears as he rested his one operable arm on Sam's shoulder. His body thrummed with relief that he knew would soon pass. But he's back. He's gonna make it.
Something that was caught between a sob and a laugh rose up in Dean's throat and he tiredly lowered his head. It thumped against his arm on Sam's shoulder while he listened to his brother cough up the obstruction in his throat. Soothingly, he hummed a familiar Metallica tune and even though he realised that Sam probably would not appreciate the sentiment, the elder brother needed something for the two of them to focus on.
The awful sounding retching seemed to continue for hours, the youngest Winchester's small frame jerking and twitching each time. The humming increased in volume, hoping to anchor Sam and give him something to focus on through the pain. Sadly, it was all Dean could do for him at this time.
Sam choked, tongue sticking out at the repulsing taste of blood in his mouth. "De…" he attempted, coughing again harshly, stabbing pains raking through his chest, "Dean, h-help."
And, had it not already broken upon seeing his little brother's fragile state, Dean was sure his still beating heart would have shattered there and then.
"It's okay Sammy," he managed eventually, his non-dislocated arm rising slowly. Fingers carded rhythmically through the chestnut curls as the younger boy hacked, trying to expel the offending mass clogging his throat. "I'm right here kiddo. Bring it all up, I'm right here."
Obliging, Sam neck stretched outwards, blood pooling rapidly out of her parched lips. He inhaled roughly, tears racing down his face to mix in with the crimson saliva adorning his chin. His chest continued to constrict, allowing him only by a small mercy to take in enough oxygen. He just wanted the pain to stop; please let it stop!
Hands tenderly gripped him about the shoulders and absently, Sam felt himself being rolled into his brother's hold. His head fell back, thumping dejectedly below Dean's collarbone, his limbs discarded uselessly about him through exhaustion. He whimpered as pain reverberated through his frame again and Dean hushed him, his one working arm wrapping around his torso and cradling him like a newborn.
"Dad's on his way, Sammy," the elder boy murmured and Sam watched as his brother's bright eyes stared dead ahead, as though in a trance. "Everything's gonna be okay, you'll see."
The youngest Winchester coughed wetly again, more blood splattering from his lips. He felt cold, knowing that the cruel grasp of hypovolaemic shock was well and truly present now. Eyelashes fluttered; his vision blurring as he stared upwards at Dean's face. Slowly, his mouth formed the word of his protector, but he wasn't sure if any sound had accompanied it.
A breathy sigh whistled from his throat and his body relaxed fully. The chestnut curls tangled around each other as Sam's head slid from its place on Dean's chest, lolling back as he found himself once again drifting.
"Sam, stay awake."
The younger brother wondered if Dean knew he still was, despite his eyes now being closed. He could still hear everything around them and he very much doubted that his torturous chest would allow him much rest. Clearly, Dean wasn't taking that into account.
"Sammy! Open your eyes!"
The order sounded harsh and strained, the sharp jostle of Sam's body sending another wave of hurt through him. Tears squeezed out from the corners of his eyes and he hesitantly opened them, heaving in another gasping breath. Dean stared down at him with obvious concern, emerald orbs trailing to the freshly carved tear tracks on his sibling's face.
"Oh, Sam," he whispered, his thumb shakily rising and wiping away the fresh tears. It was in that moment that Sam noticed how ill his brother looked; after all, Sam wasn't the only one who had plunged an almost fatal drop from a cliff.
Licking his bloody lips, Sam struggled to speak, each word stabbing at his lungs like a rusty knife, "De… y-you 'k?"
"Y-Yeah," Dean smiled grimly, wiping away another stream of blood from his brother's mouth - it had simply become a routine. "I'm just peachy, Sam."
The young teenager smirked at the typical Dean comment. His deep eyes blinked slowly, gradually losing focus no matter how long they fought to hold his brother's gaze. He felt Dean tug him a little closer, offering any morsel of comfort he could spare that would give Sam the strength to keep fighting.
A thought occurred to him and limply, Sam's hand rose up. It smacked weakly against Dean's chest, fingers curling into his t-shirt for purchase. "Y-You," he began, choking as the bitter taste of blood rose into his mouth again. "di…n't le' go."
It wasn't a question and so Dean merely shook his head as if saying: 'It's what any big brother would have done.' Instantly, Sam clung on a little tighter, doe-like eyes swimming with unspoken gratitude for his hero. The two remained in their respective positions for a moment longer, clutching to each other as though their worlds would instantly shatter if they were to let go.
The sound of twigs snapping in the distance made Dean's head snap up and dizziness instantly assaulted him. He suddenly lost all purchase on his surroundings and slumped backwards against the tree trunk, arm still tightly wrapped around his brother. Dimly, he felt Sam's fingers lose their grip in his shirt, the small hand sliding down his chest until it thumped at the place where their two torsos met.
He wanted to shake his brother again, but he knew his brother was beyond waking at this point. The teenager's small frame was entirely inert against him, his spine arched over his legs from where his head had finally fallen backwards into darkness.
Hold on Sam.
Far off, like a fading echo, Dean thought he heard someone cry his name. He was too tired to answer, any adrenaline he had managed to scrounge to keep his brother breathing now spent. But there was no more pain, and their father was coming for them. We're going to be alright, Sammy.
Unconsciousness was swift and merciful for the weary elder brother, his body relaxing smoothly against the rough bark. The worry lines that had etched their way into his face had lessened, removing years that should not have been added to his expression in the first place. However, he still remained dutifully sat upright, enclosing Sam like a parachute would its parachutist in the face of possible death.
Because no matter how many times his brother might free-fall, no matter how fast his descent would be, Dean would catch him every single time.
So... what did you all think? Hope there was enough brotherly love in there for all of you! :D
Please, please review! I'd love to hear what you think of it :)
Hugs, Ami-Rose x x x x x ;)