STEAK ON THE LAKE
By: Karen B.
Summary: Two-shot. Dean and Bobby go hunting for a lake monster. Heedless, plot-less, just for the hell of it story. Good old-fashion brotherly care and hurt. Hurt Sam. Dashing, caring, handsome Dean. Teddy bear Bobby.
Rated: Second verse…same as the first. Heedless. Plot-less. Not medically sound/correct. Just major whumpage. Just because. And because hiatus sucks. And because it's fun. And because...fill in the blank.
AN: The monster (Mudskipper) is madeup for this story. But in real life there is such a fish. They are kinda neat...look 'em up.
Disclaimer: Not the owner.
The oars slipped quietly through the water as Dean rowed, moving the small aluminum rowboat atop the flat, black lake.
It was the dead of night. A shower of celestial stars twinkling high in the October sky. The perfect night to hunt their prey.
All was still, all was quiet. The silence stretching out before them like a never ending road. The moment the sun set, the Autumn moon rose high in the sky. Round and full and fiery orange. Looking a lot like a giant paper lantern that someone strung up for decoration. The semi-warm air smelled of wet soil, wet leaves, and strangely enough, smashed pumpkin.
Dean hungrily licked at his lips. Pumpkin pie was one of his all time favorites. He glanced over his shoulder checking to see if Bobby was still behind them. Moonbeams bounced off the rippling water, casting an eerie, carroty glow across the surface.
"Bobby doing okay back there?" Sam asked from his 'King of the world' perch at the front of the small, two-man craft.
"He's keeping up," Dean said, just able to make out the shadowy silhouette in the rowboat not far behind them. He faced forward, continuing to draw the oars through the water. "I don't like being split up," he mumbled.
Sam nodded his agreement, keeping a vigilant eye on the black patch of lake before them.
The two-man rowboats were the only ones they could find. Bobby had insisted on captaining his own vessel; blaming Sam's 'deadly' gassiness and Dean's 'frothing at the mouth' stomach growls.
"You see anything yet?" Dean asked the back of Sam's windblown head.
Sam muttered, "Seaweed."
Dean's stomach grumbled louder. "We need to snag more than spinach and drown this big fish, and soon."
"It's seaweed, Dean, and fish don't drown."
"Yeah, whatever. Already logged in five hours cruising this lake."
Sam huffed and nodded. Sounds about right.
"That's two hours longer than the S.S. Minnow and we still haven't seen so much as a movie star, a millionaire, or a headhunter. I hate this crap," Dean huffed, lifting an oar and shaking the slimy spinach-like substance off. "What are we doing out here? I haven't even been bitten by a friggin' mosquito. Have you?"
Sam glanced over his shoulder at Dean, nodding. Ditto.
The seaweed plopped off the paddles and back into the lake with a revolting, unsettling sound. "Uh, gawd, that's sick," Dean suppressed a gag.
Sam made a face, nodding. Agreed.
"Turtles and bullfrogs eat this shit?"
Sam thought about that, then nodded 'yes' going back to searching the lake.
Dean's stomach rumbled loudly as he paddled on through the dark waters. "I'm starving."
Dean glared at the back of Sam's head as it nodded. So he'd heard.
"Don't plan on making seaweed a staple food, do you?"
Sam nodded, canting his head to one side. Had worse.
"Bro, is that all you can do? Nod your head? I'm going crazy here. Say something."
Sam smirked, lifted one butt cheek and let one rip.
"What the hell?" Dean squawked. Having nowhere else to hide from the stench, Dean stopped rowing and pressed his nose into the sleeve of his jacket. "Smells like cabbage, man."
"Had a Reuben for lunch," Sam dryly noted. "Keep rowing. I hear something up ahead," he insisted.
"What?" Dean took up the oars, glancing around wide-eyed and squirrelly. "Sammy," his voice raised an octave. "You hear banjos?" His eyes darted left, then right, then left again. "Because, dude…if you hear banjos… I am so out of here." Dean rowed faster.
"Relax, Dean." Sam grinned wryly. "What's left of your virtue is safe."
"Hey, I have plenty of virtue-" a beat. "Left. I'm herpes-free," Dean grouched
Sam squirmed uncomfortably.
"Damn, little brother." Dean rubbed at his eyes. "You are so toxic."
"It's a fart, Dean. Not supposed to smell like mint julep and roses."
"Yeah, well next time stick your ass in the water. Your gassiness alone could kill-off everything in this lake. Make our job a helluva lot easier."
"Stop bitching, Dean."
The wind picked up bringing with it a strange, musky smell.
Dean sniffed the air. "Sammy, is that you again? Man, tell me that smell is you and your Ruben lunch and not squished sushi in a bag or a floater." Dean peered over the side of the rowboat.
"Not me, Dean."
Furled, ragged waves slapped against the boat . The water growing increasingly rough. The boat no longer moving smoothly across the surface, doing little cherry bumps as Dean struggled with the oars.
"Sammy, I'm having trouble rowing this thing. You see it?" A damp chill spread over Dean's entire body, and he stopped rowing.
Sam leaned slightly forward, his tall frame tensing. He listened. Just the wind, and the ring, ring of a distant buoy. He looked. Nothing but water and orange moonbeams flickering over the tops of waves and gunky seaweed, turning the lake into a crazy lightshow. Black and gold and green. The churning and tossing about was bothersome, made Sam feel a little seasick, but there was nothing more.
"I don't see anything," Sam reported.
Dean's cell rang inside his jacket pocket and he quickly answered. "Bobby? Yeah, okay." He turned the phone on speaker.
"Hold on to your long johns, boys, this things a comin'," Bobby squawked, just as a thin white fog crept across the water from out of the blackness.
"Long johns? Who wears long johns?" Dean protested, covering the phone's mouthpiece with one hand, and whispering to Sam, "I wore my shiny-black bikini beach thong."
"Ewww." Sam winced. "How do you get in those things."
Dean shrugged nonchalantly. "Wasn't hard."
"You dumb shits still there? Listen up! This ain't no Carnaval Dream cruise," Bobby snapped.
The water turned rougher, bucking the rowboat up and down. Whitecaps swelled, sloshing the small craft side-to-side. Dean set the phone between his knees and gripped the oars, muscles flexing as he continued to row through the choppy water.
Lake spray splashed up, hitting Dean in the face. "The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed if not for the courage of the fearless…"
"Stop screwing around and be prepared to get a little wet," Bobby's barked. "I told ya, Mudskipper's not only a giant, amphibious fish-like fugly, it is fully capable of hunting in and out of the water. Bastard's sneaky and can control the lake like the water was a well-trained dog on a short leash," he informed. "Fish lips will come at ya from different directions, then lie in wait just under the surface, ambush when it's damn good and ready."
Sam nodded his understanding.
"Peachy." Dean brushed a slimy string of seaweed off his lips
Lake water swamped over the side of the boat, the fog no longer creeping but rolling like boiling water, creating different shadowy shapes and disorienting the hunters. Was as if they were a couple of lobsters, floating around inside a giant, cooking kettle, just waiting for the right time to be eaten.
"Not cool," Dean muttered, using his foot to shove a plastic tarp under the weapons bag for protection. Wet supplies and weapons would do them no good. Probably wouldn't be using the arsenal he'd brought with them anyway, but Dean liked to be prepared for anything. He stared back out over the lake. The water itself was like a living being, playing tricks on his eyes. The dark waves shaped like whale humps and shark fins and mermaid tails. He always did like to imagine he and Darryl Hannah getting it on in a moonlit pool, but this? "This is nuts," Dean barked.
Sam bent over, rummaging around by his feet.
"Aren't you going to nod or some shit?" Dean squinted at Sam through the wind and splashing waves.
Sam ducked down lower.
"Sam! You sick?
"Remember," Bobby's voice blared louder out the phone over the whip of the wind. "Only way to make sure Mobey Dick is dead is to put that harpoon straight through its heart."
Sam sat up and turned to Dean, holding up the weapon of choice - a silver tipped harpoon.
"And where's its heart located, Dean?" Bobby questioned sternly.
"Dude," Dean stared wide-eyed at Sam in utter disbelief, "I'm the driver." He raised the paddles slightly, for show. "Why's he always picking on me?"
"Because your brains are in your Speedo," Bobby criticized.
"Thong," Sam righted.
Dean gapped open mouthed at Sam. "You know that was personal."
Sam nodded. Sorry.
"Thanks, pal. The nodding thing," Dean frowned, "Really helps."
"Bitch, shut up," Dean growled. "I work hard for this awesome body."
"We're not talking about your body, Dean." Sam rolled his eyes, gripping tighter to the harpoon, ready to strike should the Mudskipper rear its ugly head.
"Awesome body," Dean recapped.
"Boy, I don't care if we're talking about a Suma wrestling in a diaper. Tell me where the heart is!" Bobby seriously demanded, sounding like an old schoolmarm waving a disciplinary ruler in Dean's face.
"It's underbelly, okay," Dean drawled out in a boring tone.
"Just be careful…both you idjits."
"Copy that." Dean quickly shoved the phone back in his pocket, then went back to paddling.
Sam inched up closer to the front of the boat, that tossed about like a bathtub toy.
"How far away from shore are we?" Dean questioned, struggling to keep their small craft from capsizing and wondering if they were close enough to make a swim for it, should they.
"Figure we're about smack-dab in the middle," Sam said, pulling his hoodie up to cover his head. "Still don't see any sign of our Mudskipper."
"This keeps up," Dean tugged the paddles harder through the swirling water, "We're both going to take a cool refreshing dip," he laughed heartily.
"Why do you find that funny, Dean?"
"Because, I laugh in the face of danger."
Something thumped against the side of the boat, damn near tipping it. Sam one-handedly gripped the edges and adjusted his weight, balancing the craft.
"I don't think danger is taking too kindly to being laughed at." Sam glanced back, checking on Bobby.
"Sinbad still with us?" Dean stared ahead, swearing something was staring back. Could be the monster. Could be the lake.
Using the light of the moon, Sam was just able to make out Bobby waving a hand at them. Sam waved back. "Yeah, he's fine, maybe we should…holy crap." Sam went rigid, "Dean!" Sam bolted up to his feet. The boat rocked dangerously, threatening to overthrow them both. "Bobby's boat just capsized." Sam stumbled, nearly taking a header into the lake, the boat tilting sideways, lake water pouring in.
"Sam, sit the hell back down! I'll turn us about" Dean ordered, already making the frantic move.
"No." Sam hopped up and down on one foot, the boat dipping and tipping. Sam balanced like a gymnast on the high beam as he removed a boot. "Gotta be the Mudskipper. We'll never get to Bobby in time or find his body. Just like the other five victims," he panted, worriedly taking off his other boot.
"Hey, Capt'n Crunch," Dean grunted, struggling and fighting his own emotions as he steered the small dingy through the ever growing turbulence. "That's no crunch berry out there," Dean ranted, seeing the glint of fierce determination in Sam's eyes as the kid pulled off his hoodie, and flannel leaving Sam in just a short sleeved tee-shirt. "Going fishing in the mouth of a whale - big mistake, little brother."
Sam nabbed the harpoon and gave Dean a quick 'I'll be seeing you soon' nod.
"Sam! Enough with the nodding already!" Dean reached out a hand to stop him, but he was too late. Sam had already plunged overboard into the cold, black as licorice water. "Son of a bitch!" Dean cursed, quickly noticing the orange life vest tucked uselessly under his brother's seat. Took every restraint in him not to jump in after Sam. "Son of a bitch," Dean repeated in a mere whisper. The buckling and swelling water suddenly went still as glass. The wind dying. Everything quiet. "Oh, son of a…" Dean bit off the words, taking up the oars and rowing.
Dean forced himself not to keep looking over his shoulder, wasting precious time and energy. Instead, he just kept pulling at the handles. Heading toward the black outline of the capsized boat.
"Stupid. Stupid. Stupid, Sammy." Back and leg muscles straining and aching, Dean put Superman effort into each stroke.
Row, row, row your boat, humming in his head.
The unmoving waters made each stroke easier. The only sound, that of the oars dipping and re-dipping into the water. Being both captain and crew sucked.
Row, row, row, hurry!
It was dark and silent and okay, scary. He was desperate to get to Bobby. Desperate to see Sam. And how the hell was he going to pull them both out of the darkness of the lake?
Row, row, row. Fuck, fuck, fuck!
Just as Dean didn't think he could row anymore, his boat bumped into Bobby's overturned one. Dean swiveled, turning and twisting in his seat. Searching for any signs. The moon and stars mirrored in the inky water. A few scattered leaves and a small piece of driftwood floated lazily on by. That was all. Nothing more. The stillness and silence was shattering. "Can't be good," Dean breathlessly muttered. He wanted to call out to Bobby or Sam, but the dead silence surrounding him, stifled the urge. They both could be dead. He couldn't wrap his thoughts around that. "Oh, man," Dean muttered, still not seeing so much as an air bubble.
Only one thing left to do. Dive into the creepy, seaweed infested lake. Dean reached down and started to unlace his boots. "Good as time as any to test drive my thong…"
Suddenly something broke the surface.
"Bobby!" Dean scrambled to the side of his boat, leaning over, arms stretched outward.
Bobby sputtered and coughed, his hatless head dipping back down below the surface. "Oh, no you don't." Dean reached down snagging a hold of a jacket collar. Using all his upper arm strength, he yanked Bobby up.
Coughing and wheezing, Bobby crawled into the boat with Dean's help, slopping to the haul between the seats like an overgrown sea lion wearing plaid.
Dean white-knuckle gripped Bobby by both arms, bending low and peering into his eyes. "You okay? What happened? Where's Sam?" Dean's eyes shifted around briefly. "Bobby!" He shook the man hard. "Where is he?"
Bobby slipped sideways, gagging and vomiting. Lake water dripping off his thinning hair and grizzled beard and mustache. Only able to hand-signal, Bobby flailed frantically toward the water. Still under.
"Ah, Christ." Dean should have known. Well, he did know. Was just hoping otherwise. Quickly, he unlaced his boots the rest of the way and dove headfirst into the lake.
The lake was murky and full of sediment. The moonlight from above cutting through the water gave the floating, slow-moving particles an unearthly grayish, almost alien look. Dean kicked hard, propelling deeper. A sick, cold feeling entered the pit of his stomach, like ice cubes being chopped in a blender. Sam was down here. For how long? Without air. Dean couldn't know. The Mudskipper may have already stripped him of his flesh, or did Mudskippers prefer to swallow their victims whole? Dean couldn't remember which.
Dean's hands brushed the bottom. Clay, silt and sand, but no Sam. The need to take in a deep breath became too strong and he kicked off the bottom.
Dean erupted to the surface, jerking his chin up. Mouth open wide drawing in a harsh gasp.
"You see the boy?" Bobby called with a wheeze, gripping the side of the boat.
Gulping down air and treading water, Dean twisted and turned. Looking left and right, then left again. Forgoing his previous reluctance he yelled, "Sam!"
Hearing only his panic echoing back at him, Dean drew in another deep breath and dove under. He held tight to his breath as he searched the dark, cloudy water. For as long as he could. It was one of the most unnatural things a human could do. But Dean did it. With a die-harded vengeance. Sam was down here. Underwater. When was the last time his baby brother had sucked in a breath of air? That thought alone kept Dean searching. He searched and searched, his lungs begging for air. Not wanting to give in. But he'd have to. Sooner, rather than later. Thirty more seconds, and no Sam, Dean was faced with no choice. A breath was what he must take as he regrettably headed back to the surface.
Halfway there something bumped his leg. Dean stopped mid-swim, twisting toward the shadowy object, hoping it was Sam. No such luck. A creepy, watery eye peered at him - now he knew what Sea Monkey's felt like in the wild. They weren't a novelty pet, but plain-old fish food. And now so was Dean. A large mouth opened, a set of razor sharp teeth zooming his way full throttle ready to swallow him whole. Maybe he'd find his brother in the belly of the beast and they could team up and cut their way back out together.
Something else suddenly swept past. Something with two gangly arms and two long legs. To Dean's astonishment, he was knocked out of the way and sent tumbling head over heels underwater. Disoriented and out of air he swam to the surface, breaking the water and taking in huge gulps of air.
"Dean," Bobby called, "Over there."
Dean followed the direction Bobby was pointing. Not far from him bloomed a cloud of red. What had just happened. "Oh, my, God." Dawning came quickly to Dean. Unlike most people who'd swim away from the sight of blood, he headed straight for it.
Dean took in a breath, but before he could dive back under in search of his little brother - who he was certain had just knocked him literally out of the jaws of death - a shaggy head broke the surface only a few yards from him.
Sam gasped and gurgled, hair soaked and plastered back away from his face. He struggled hard not to let go of the harpoon, blood dripping off the pointy silver tip. Sam could barely keep his head above the water, obviously fatigued and looking like a tiny piece of fluff in the light of the orange moon.
"Aughhh," he gurgled, chin dipping down below the waterline, water spraying out his lips.
"Sammy, hold on." In five quick strokes, Dean snatched a soggy arm, holding Sam afloat.
"Uhhh," Sam shuddered in Dean's grasp.
"Easy, just me." Dean pulled Sam close, holding tighter as he treaded water for the both of them. "You okay?" he grunted in his own exhaustion, noting the two inch long, bloody cut running horizontal along Sam's hairline.
Sluggish hazel eyes flicked to Dean. "D'n," Sam choked up water, "Missed its heart." Sam's body flopped any old which way, like an invertebrate with no backbone, the harpoon nearly jaming up Dean's nose.
"Give me that, before you poke my eye out with it." Dean took the harpoon out of Sam's weakening grip, knowing the fugly was not far away, probably circling under their feet right now.
"Can't." Sam spit dirty lake water from his lungs. "Can't fight and hold me up, too," he uttered.
"Watch me," Dean growled.
"Boys' move. Get the hell out of the water!" Bobby ordered as he rowed the boat in their direction.
"Can you swim at all?" Dean questioned, keeping hold of Sam's arm.
"I…ugh…" Sam choked and gagged.
"Dumb question, huh?" Dean crossed an arm around Sam's chest.
"There you go again," Dean turned Sam so his wet head rested against his shoulder. I got you, pal." He started to swim them both to the boat where Bobby was worriedly waiting.
Pound for pound Sam was dead weight, his wet clothes adding on twenty more.
"Huuhh, huh, huh, " Sam sucked in several, sharp, convulsive breaths "Guhhhh." Letting the air out on a low, deep moan.
"Easy, man. Easy." The Sickening gasps were a good sign to Dean. His brother hadn't drown, he was still breathing, still alive and Dean planned on keeping him that way. "What do you think you are, dude? Part dolphin?"
Sam couldn't answer, too busy gasping.
"Almost there," Dean panted breathlessly in Sam's ear, tugging him along. Finally reaching the boat, he fumbled to keep hold of the harpoon and Sam. Afraid the Mudskipper would show any minute. "Bobby help me with him." Dean one handedly heaved Sam up.
Bobby got his hand's under Sam's armpits and tugged the weakened boy into the boat. Sam did his best to help. It didn't take long to find himself all a tangle and limp, slumped in the bottom of the boat.
"You stupid ass!" Bobby hovered over him, what little hair he had already drying and rustling in the wind. "You almost got yourself killed, saving my old ass," Bobby berated.
Sam gave a weak, watery wheeze. "Not you." Sam reached into the front of his sopping wet tee-shirt and pulled out a ballcap handing it to Bobby.
Bobby hesitated, then grunted his thanks, gruffly putting his favorite white and blue hat back on his head.
"Thanks, kid." Bobby directed his gaze at Dean, still in the water, gripping the side of the boat. "Boy, get your ass in here."
"Two-man craft, remember?" Dean hefted the harpoon up to Sam, who took it.
"Pull your head out of your ass and get in the boat, Dean," Bobby ordered. "Before that thing pulls a Lorena Bobbitt."
Dean cringed. "You know this old tub won't hold three. Just row," Dean shot back.
Bobby swore in Japanese, knowing Dean was right. "Mudskipper's don't catch and release," Bobby unnecessarily informed. "Just stay close." He took up the oars and rowed as fast as he could toward shore.
Dean didn't need to be told twice to stay close. Maybe he should have worn a cup instead of his shiny, black thong. "Don't bite off the parts of me I can't hide," he whispered under his breath over and over. Steak on the lake...he was not.
Dean held tighter to the side of the boat with one hand and cupping his jewles with the other. All the while cringing at the sound of his 'almost' drowned little brother, still struggling to take in laborious gasps of air.