Thanks for the wonderful response to the first part. Here is part two of two. Because of the changes to the site, if you have your PM disable, I won't be able to respond to your review - please keep that in mind. And again, thanks for commenting, I hope this doesn't disappoint. Set in season 1, btw, if I forgot to mention.
Sam tried to sleep. It was the best way he could think of to pass the time until Dean got back. But no matter how hard he tried, the painful throbbing in his leg kept him awake. So instead, he leaned against the side window, his brother's jacket soft between his head and the glass, and waited. It was hard not to visualize the poison, molasses black, slowly creeping through his veins towards his heart, getting closer and closer with each beat—
"Stop it!" Sam snapped. "Just—stop it, damn it." Thinking like that wasn't going to help him. He needed to focus on something else. Anything else.
"Well, maybe…just…" He frowned and reached up to rub his forehead in agitation. "I am a pretty big guy…so it might not have been enough to kill me, right? Right…" Huffing out a worried breath, he shifted on the seat and winced as even the slightest movement caused agony to shoot through his leg. "Shit!"
"Don't be such a baby." Unbidden, Jessica's voice tickled the back of his mind. "It's hardly even bleeding."
Sam remembered. Mere months earlier—it felt like a lifetime ago now—he'd gotten a nasty paper cut from a folder he had stuffed into his backpack. Damn thing stung like a son of a bitch, and Jessica had teased him about it weeks afterward.
"Sam," she'd smiled even as she tenderly wrapped a Band-Aid around his finger, "it's not that bad. I think you'll live."
"Oh, yeah?" he'd challenged. "Can I quote you when they're forced to take my finger to save my life?"
She'd laughed out loud at that and spent the rest of the evening taking his mind off the injury…
"Oh, Jess," he whispered, his eyes burning, her loss still achingly fresh. "I miss you, babe. Oh, God, I really do…"
And then he closed his eyes and tried once again to sleep.
Dean checked for cell phone reception as he ran but didn't get more than a bar of power until he was within spitting distance of a gas station. The same one he had sped by only twenty minutes before his baby ran out of gas.
The muscles in his legs were burning, sweat soaked his t-shirt, and his chest heaved for air, but he didn't slow down. Instead, he poured on a final burst of speed and ran the last hundred yards.
"Hey," he managed as he saw an old man in dusty gray overalls and a dirty hat tending the pumps. "H-help…I need…help."
The man looked at him for a moment, then started to move toward him, concern etched on his ancient face as Dean slowed down. "What's wrong, son?"
"My brother…" Dean put the gas can down and bent over, hands on his knees he tried to catch his breath. "Bit by snake… Car…outta…gas…"
"Oh, dear." The man glanced briefly in the direction Dean had come, then grabbed Dean's arm with one hand and the container with the other and dragged him to the store. "Call Sheriff Bandy. Press 1 on my phone. Tell him what happened. I'll get you some gas and drive you back."
Dean balked at getting the police involved. He shook his head and held up his phone. "What about 9-1-1?"
"Nah," the old man scoffed. "This'll be quicker. Trust me. They'd only call Ike anyways. Don't know where you're from, son, but this is a very small town. Now get inside. All this stalling ain't helping your brother."
Dean wasn't about to argue with that, so with a backward glance to make sure the guy was filling up the gas can, he hurried inside, picked up the phone sitting on the counter and pressed 1. Five minutes later, he was climbing into the passenger seat of a beat-up old pickup truck and hoping to hell he hadn't made a mistake.
Checking the time on his cell Sam realized Dean had been gone for more than two hours now. He'd gotten no sleep at all and kept his mind busy trying not to think about Jessica or how things might have been different if he hadn't written off his premonition as a nightmare. So far, it sucked. The more he tried not to think about her, the more he did. The horrid throbbing in his leg was the only thing keeping him grounded. So it was with palpable relief that Sam finally heard the sound of a vehicle crunching on the roadside gravel behind him. He just hoped it was Dean.
It wasn't. Sam swallowed back a sliver of fear, his fingers searching out a grip on the pocketknife in his jacket pocket.
A tall, uniformed man with a thin face and an actual handlebar mustache tapped on the window. Sam saw the badge and breathed out a soft sigh. It was a sheriff.
"You Sam Moon?" the man asked through the glass, his voice a surprisingly deep rumble.
Drummer? The Who? Okay, guess that was who he was today… Sam nodded slightly but didn't make a move to unlock the door yet. Could be a shapeshifter. He shivered at the thought, knowing his little pig sticker wouldn't do a damn thing except piss it off.
Then an old truck pulled up behind the sheriff, and Sam saw his brother shove open the door. Thank God. Hissing as he leaned forward, Sam let go of the knife and unlocked the car as the lawman turned to Dean.
"You the brother?" the man asked.
Dean ignored him, his focus completely on Sam. "Sammy?" He yanked the door open, his face pinched and serious, looking as he reached out to palm Sam's check. "You okay?"
Sam offered him a thin smile, his eyes closing briefly under the touch. "Been better," he admitted, surprised by how hoarse his voice sounded. A wave of pure exhaustion washed out all attempts at bravado. "Still hurts," he admitted, looking at his leg.
"I bet," Dean sympathized as he crouched down to check the bandage. He glanced back at the sheriff. "And yeah, I am," he finally answered.
An old man in overalls stood behind Dean and spoke to the lawman. "Hey, Ike, how bad is it?"
"Don't know," Ike admitted. Dark brown eyes appraised Sam's face. "But the kid looks good considering that, 'ccording to his brother, he was bit a couple of hours ago."
Dean glanced up sharply at the man. "This," he indicated Sam, pale-faced and sweaty, "looks good?"
"Trust me, kid," the sheriff met the glare. "For being snakebit? He looks damn stellar."
"Dry bite?" the old man asked.
Ike lifted his hat and scratched at the top of his head. "I'm not ready to bet his life on it."
Dean frowned. "What the hell's a dry bite?"
"Snakes don't always inject venom," the sheriff explained. "But you got to work on the assumption that they did."
Sam closed his eyes wearily as he felt Dean carefully pulling his pant leg back down, his nerves too raw to take comfort in the possibility of a dry bite. Then his brother gave his knee a gentle squeeze and stood up.
Dean's sharp voice had Sam's eyes flying open. When Sam's blurry glare fixed on him, Dean grinned.
"Just making sure you're not dead or something…"
"Or something? Nice, Dean." Sam closed his eyes again and pretended not to notice the way his brother's hand skimmed the top of his head. But when the touch ended with a light smack, he was back to glaring—one-eyed this time. "Hey!"
"No sleeping," he was told once again.
"C'mon," the sheriff spoke to Dean. "Let's get him in my Jeep. It'll be quicker. Bob'll fuel your beast. We can come back for it later."
Sam expected his brother to balk and insist they take the Impala, so he was surprised when Dean gave a curt nod and started to reach for him.
"Okay, bro, time to book."
The trip to the hospital was a blur of pain and the sound his brother's voice as Dean twisted around from the front seat to talk to him. Sam tried to focus on it, but by the time they pulled up in front of the ER, he was writhing miserably, his head rocking back and forth against the back of the seat, and Dean was somehow holding his hand.
Fire shot through his leg as the Jeep lurched to a stop. He heard Dean curse something, his brother's anger directed at the sheriff, and then finally, gratefully, he passed out.
"Sam?" Panic swept through Dean when his brother finally lost consciousness. The lawman told him to wait there—as if he was going to leave—and rushed inside to get the help. "C'mon, bro," he murmured as he leaned between the seats as far as he could and squeezed Sam's limp hand. "Hang on, just a little longer." He paused, his eyes burning, "Please?'
And then the sheriff was back with two orderlies and a gurney. Dean stood back as the men maneuvered his brother out of the Jeep and onto the bed with practiced ease. He answered their quickly barked questions, running behind them as they rushed Sam inside.
Dean was stopped at a set of double doors and handed a clipboard.
"Hey," he growled, determined to go with his brother, but the sheriff grabbed his arm, stopping him. The man dropped his hand at Dean's glare but didn't back down.
"Sit," he ordered. "You'll know something as soon as there's something to know."
Dean opened his mouth to argue but then huffed angrily instead and took out his frustration on the pen, mercilessly clicking it as he read through the questions on the form. The sheriff gave him a sympathetic look and then went over to talk to the admitting nurse.
By the time he got to the bottom of the forms, the lawman was back.
Dean stood, hoping for news.
"It's going to be a while. C'mon, I'll take you back to get your car."
Dean glanced past him at the doors Sam had disappeared through. The offer was tempting. He knew from way too much experience how much it sucked to wait. "You sure?" he asked, not wanting Sam to think he'd ditched him. Not that Sam would ever think that…
"I'm sure." The man took the clipboard from Dean, passed it to the nurse he'd been talking to, then started for the door. "We'll be back with time to spare."
Dean hoped he was right.
True to his word, Bob had the Impala gassed up and was waiting for them when they arrived. He was crouched down by the side of the road, poking at something with a stick.
"What's that?" Dean demanded as he followed the sheriff out of the Jeep, his sharp eyes taking in the elongated form lying in the dirt.
The lawman frowned as they approached his friend. "Bob?" Then he snorted. "Well, I'll be damned."
"What?" Dean repeated. He took an involuntary step back when he realized what Bob was poking. It was a snake. A very dead rattlesnake stretched out a couple of yards from the front of the Impala.
"This the bastard bit your brother?" the sheriff asked, giving Dean a sidelong look.
Dean stared at the snake. It was friggin' huge. "Yes. No.… I don't know," he admitted.
"Didn't know you boys killed it," the sheriff admitted as he crouched down for a closer look.
"No." Dean shook his head. "It bit Sam and took off. I never saw it."
"Well, something killed it," Bob helped as he gave it one more poke, "'cause the damn thing is dead as a doorknob now."
"And that's a bad thing?" Dean retorted.
"No." Bob shrugged. "I was just saying."
"Timber Rattler?" the sheriff speculated.
"Yup," the old man confirmed. "Crotalus horridus. Big one, too."
"Okay," the lawman moved to his Jeep, "bag him for me, will ya? I'll call the hospital and let 'em know we're coming in with the culprit." He looked at Dean. "It'll make it easier for them to treat your brother if they know for sure what bit him."
Dean nodded but didn't really care. He just wanted to get back to the hospital.
But it was still three hours later before he finally got to see Sam…
"Hey, bro." he grinned, tired but sincere, when he saw his brother sitting on the edge of a hospital bed, weary looking but alert. The bite had been deep and had hit bone, but there had been no poison. It had been a dry bite after all, thank God. Still painful, it required stitches and antibiotics, but was not life-threatening. The shock had been a bit more tricky to deal with, but the doctors assured Dean his brother was going to be just fine. Sam needed rest…and crutches. "Ready to go?"
"Yeah." Sam's voice was soft and slightly slurred as he reached for the pair of crutches the nurse had left for him. They'd also given him a shot of painkillers, and Dean a handful of samples. "Your baby out front?" Sam asked as Dean moved beside him to lend a hand.
"One of them."
Sam gave him a surprised look, then blushed and mumbled something about not being a baby. Dean grinned and patted his arm consoling. "C'mon, bro, your chariot awaits."
His brother, leaning heavily on the crutches, carefully negotiated his way out of the room. "As long as it has gas…"
Dean snorted and followed. It was going to be a long ride to a motel...
Dean stood under the hot spray of water in the shower and groaned softly. God, he was tired. Every single part of his body was fatigued. A beautiful woman could appear naked right now and he'd have no energy to rise to the occasion. Leaning his head against the shower wall, he opened and closed his mouth, drinking in and spitting out water, while in the other room Sam was resting. Or at least, he was supposed to be…
Dean turned off the shower, then grabbed a towel, wrapped it around his waist, and stepped out of the stall. The air in the room was warm on his skin as he quickly slipped into a pair of sleep pants and a thin t-shirt, intending on diving headfirst into bed. It had been an incredibly long day.
But as soon as he left the bathroom, all hopes of calling it a night went out the door when he realized he was alone. Sam was not in the room.
"Sam," Dean growled, heading for the door. His brother's shoes and crutches were gone, so it was highly unlikely the kid had been snatched by something nasty. And sure enough, as soon as Dean opened the door, he saw his brother sitting on the sidewalk outside their room, long legs carefully stretched out, right foot mere inches from the Impala's front tire.
Dean smacked a mosquito as he crossed the short distance between them and stood behind Sam. "What are you doing?" he demanded, his weariness shortening his temper.
"Sitting," stated Captain Obvious blandly, his gaze unwavering as he stared straight ahead in the darkness.
"I can see that, genius. But why out here?" Dean paused to swat another insect. "Ouch," he growled. "Son of a—" He batted the air as another buzzed by his ear. "'Specially with the mosquitoes being such bitches tonight."
"Actually, they aren't."
"What are you talking about?" Sam must be nuts; the little beasts were just about eating Dean alive and he'd been out for just a few minutes.
"Look, Dean." Sam held out a bare arm as evidence. "They're not biting me. Not one."
Dean frowned as he saw what Sam meant. Not one mosquito bothered his brother. Sure, they did a quick pass but they didn't even try to land. The nasty little vampires were totally ignoring him. But they certainly had no problem attacking Dean. "Heh," he concluded, "that's weird…" He plopped down next to his brother, hoping some of Sam's apparent immunity rubbed off.
"Maybe not." Sam's face pinched as he turned. "Dean—"
Dean groaned. Great, his brother had been thinking and whatever it was, Dean just knew he wasn't going to like it. "Don't say it."
"Dean, that snake died."
He knew it had been a mistake the moment he'd told Sam about it. Oh well, too late to take it back now. "Snakes do that," he refuted lamely.
"But right after biting me?"
"That doesn't mean anything."
"Yeah, well, look at all those bees in Oklahoma. They had no trouble stinging you."
"They jabbed you—"
"With something sticking out of their butts, Dean!"
"That just sounds so wrong…"
"Yeah, well. It is what it is."
"What about the black dog in Ohio, then?"
Sam frowned. "What about it?"
"It bit you and certainly didn't crawl off to die quietly. In fact, I have the scar to prove it." Dean started to lift his shirt but his brother waved him off.
"I dunno," Sam admitted, "maybe it had some sort of immunity."
"To you? What? It was protected by the fact it was evil?" Dean chuffed in disbelief.
"I don't know," the younger man repeated again, frustration bleeding into his voice.
"Well, I know some people who'd say snakes are pretty evil—"
"Dean! I'm being serious here."
The muscle in Dean's jaw twitched; he really didn't want to have this conversation. "Yeah, well, I am, too."
Sam sighed, reaching down to rub his sore leg as they sat quietly for a few minutes. Finally, the kid turned back to him, his eyes large and filled with such turmoil, it made Dean's heart lurch. "Dean…there's something going on...with me. We just can't ignore it."
God grant him some immunity, because Dean could never deny such need. "Sam. Just…" his jaw tightened with determination, "we'll figure it out, okay?"
Sam continued to watch him. After another brief pause, he offered a small smile. "Okay."
Dean stood up and offered his brother a hand. "Now," he put the right amount of pained whine in his voice, "can we go inside before these little discriminative bastards finish me off for good?"
Sam rolled his eyes at the exaggeration but accepted the help up anyway.
Dean kept hold until the kid got the crutches sorted out, then followed his injured brother back inside.