December 24, 2006
In some ways, the snow is a blessing.
It's stinging Dean's hands and face— Shouldn't we wear gloves? Oh come on, Sam, don't be such a wuss— and it's pretty fucking cold, but thinking about the way the snow is turning to water against his heated skin and soaking into his clothes is far better than thinking about anything else right now.
Besides, you're supposed to put ice on wounds, Dean knows that. Everyone knows that.
Except, that's for bruises.
Dean has bullet holes.
He realizes he's stopped moving and forces his body to shift forward another inch. The pain is excruciating, the white-hard cold of the snow on his skin, the swollen bruises grinding his ribs together with every movement, the of the bullets lodged deep, one in each knee. Like bowling. That's a strike.
He's crawling uphill.
It would be easy to let go. It would be easy to roll backwards, to let gravity take him back to the shack where all this started, where there's warmth and no wind and now no fucking ghost. We're hunting a hunter, but like, a real hunter. An animal hunter. It's kinda ironic isn't it? Not really, Dean, no. It would be easy to lie down right here and just fucking die but Dean won't.
Sam is uphill, and that's where Dean's going.
His brother hasn't answered the first time hundred times Dean has screamed his name, but Dean will scream it a hundred more because each time he does he remembers why he's clinging to this fire-sharp consciousness and dragging his body through the snow and blood and pain towards an unmoving lump at the top of the hill.
The snow is getting in his eyes now, making it difficult to see but that's alright, because Dean doesn't really want to look at the dark huddle that shouldn't be his brother. He watches his hands instead— Shouldn't we wear gloves? Oh come on, Sam— as they slide forward, snow sticking to blood like feathers on tar, and his arms follow, and then his shoulders, and his— bruisedhotfuckingow— torso, and then the screaming mass of white-hot nerves that used to be his legs.
He keeps forgetting to move.
And to breathe.
But that part is easier, because he can't call Sam's name if he isn't breathing, so Dean opens his mouth and pulls in the air, the sound loud as an airplane in his ears. He moves his hands again, arms, shoulders, bruises, shattered bits of bone and trails of blood.
The lump that shouldn't be Sam looks bigger. Dean must be getting closer. Shouldn't we wear gloves? Oh, come on—
Dean thinks he might throw up if it wouldn't take too much energy. He sucks in another breath. It rattles like the Impala when Dean's run her too hard and too fast. A death rattle, isn't that a thing? Sam would know.
Another breath. Another inch. Hands— Gloves? Come on.— arms, shoulders, the rest of him that isn't him anymore. The snow is falling from the sky now, icy kisses touching him from above, cold weight pushing up from below.
When Sam was little he used to like to make snow angels. Dean wonders what they could call the pattern he's making now in the snow.
Breath. He's long since stopped shouting Sam's name out loud, but it's still repeating itself over and over in his head. Inch. The snow is freezing but his blood is hot, every pulse a nuclear explosion of agony. Breath. His skin must be hot too because there's water on his face. Inch. Dean doesn't have enough left inside for it to be tears. Hands— Come on— Sam.
Dean curls fingers around a slender wrist. His heart is beating out at his knees, but Sam's he finds in the blue line under pale skin. Sam is lying on his back, limbs spread. Maybe he's not hurt. Maybe he just wanted to make a snow angel.
Hazel eyes find him, brighter than the pain lighting up his body like lightning strike. Sam shifts, bringing an arm over, showing Dean a cell phone flickering with hope, tinny voice issuing reassurances that are lost in the wind, in the ragged breaths Dean doesn't have to try so hard to remember to take now.
Dean can pass out. He can throw up. He lay down and fucking die.
He holds on.