A/N Hey y'all! Another fic from me. I started this one years ago and I'm kind of worried about posting it. It's been my baby for a while, and I'm pretty far into it. It's going to be a long ride though. I got the idea once when I was going for a walk one summer and I saw a white-ish jackrabbit. Since they're usually brown in the summer and their fur changes to white in the winter, I thought it was odd. The fact that "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane was playing on my MP3 was a nice coincidence that inspired me. No, this isn't an LSD induced trip down the rabbit-hole, but this story does draw inspiration from the kind of story where the hero embarks on a strange journey in a different world, like in "Alice in Wonderland" (minus the LSD), or "Wizard of Oz", "Narnia" and especially "Labyrinth" (minus the Goblin King with David Bowie hair). But "Supernatural" style. Y'know, more blood, less whimzy. Does that make sense?
Disclaimer: Not mine. Nope. But a girl can dream, yes?
"Dean, where's daddy?" Sammy asked out of the blue.
Startling slightly Dean marked the page of his book with his thumb and turned to his little brother, "He's gone on business Sammy, you know that."
"'Bout two towns over? I don't know."
"When will he be back?"
Dean frowned, hating it when Sammy started asking him such questions, especially this one. "I'm not sure. Maybe later today or tomorrow." Actually he was supposed to be back yesterday but the nature of Dad's job was that he couldn't always be back on time. Dean just wished he'd call so he didn't have to worry so much. He always worried when Dad went away on a hunt.
"Dean I'm bored," Sammy whined.
"Find something to do!"
"Can we go to the lake?"
"Because Dad said so."
"Because it's dangerous."
"No it's not. Lots of people are playing there."
"You could drown."
"No I won't," Sammy insisted, "I can swim an' 'sides, you won't let me drown."
"You gotta point there, Squirt."
"So can we go?"
"I'm sorry Sammy, but we can't. Not until Dad gets back."
Irritated Dean let out a huff, "Because! Jeez Sammy will you stop asking stupid questions?"
Sammy startled by his big brother's outburst and sniffled slightly.
Aw shit! Dean thought, seeing a temper tantrum starting as Sammy's cheeks began to turn three shades of red and his nostrils flared and eyes narrowed. Best to reel him in before things get out of hand. "Sammy, don't be a baby. Look we can go for a walk? Just as long as we stay near the cabin, alright?"
"I wanna go to the lake!" Sammy whined, his voice developing a shrill but demanding tone.
"Sammy we can't!" Dean insisted almost wanting to blurt out that he'd been longing to go to the lake ever since they got there. But Dad said no and Dean wasn't going to disobey. Not this time. Last time he nearly got Sammy killed by leaving him alone for a few hours, if something happened on his watch… no. He couldn't risk it. The lake was big and deep and crowded. Sammy could get hurt, he could drown, he could get lost, there might be a bad person there who will want to hurt him, someone might realize they were alone and call CPS… And he couldn't tell Sammy that he wanted to go to the lake too because that would only give Sammy more reason to want to go.
"I wanna go!" Sammy screamed, "I'm tired of being here an' stuck inside when it's so sunny out and beautiful and the lake is so close and…and…"
"Come on!" Dean hissed, "Let's go for a walk, play outside for a while, OK?"
"I don' wanna go for a walk! I wanna go to the lake!"
Dean chose not to point out that going to the lake also meant going for a walk. "Maybe later!" Dean hissed, "When Dad gets back. OK? Dad said we can't go there, but we can go exploring near the cabin, all right?"
"And when's daddy comin' here?" Sammy whimpered breathlessly, hiccoughing slightly as tears drew moist lines down his reddened cheeks.
"I don't know."
"I wan' daddy!" he cried, "I don' like it when he leaves us alone in strange places!"
Reeling in his own temper Dean stuffed a candy wrapper he found on the floor in his book to mark the page and put his book aside, approaching his little brother. He went to his knees and placed his hands on his shoulder, "Hey… it's OK Sammy. Dad's doing what he needs to do. I know you don't like it…but…"
"I hate him!" Sammy declared suddenly, no longer crying.
"No you don't…"
"I do!" Sammy insisted, folding his arms and pouting. "Other kids's daddy's let them go to the lake. Other kids don' have daddies who leave them alone."
"You're not alone," Dean reminded him, "I'm here and Dad… he'd be here if he could. He has no choice."
"Damn it Sammy, I don't know!" Dean snapped. He knew, he knew that Dad was hunting monsters to protect them and find the thing that killed their mom, but he didn't want Sammy to know there were monsters. He didn't want Sammy to know and he didn't know what to tell him.
"I hate you too Dean!" Sammy hissed and Dean nearly fell on his butt in surprise. "You don't let me do anything fun either! You jus' boss me around like you were daddy and…"
"You don't mean that," Dean said quietly, "Sammy… what's gotten into you today?"
"I wanna go to the lake!"
Dean took a deep, shuddering breath. He knew Sammy didn't mean anything he said, being cooped up in the small cabin for four days while Dad was gone was hard on them both. And with it being so nice and sunny and the lake only a fifteen minute walk away it made it that much harder for both of them to stay inside like Dad told them to. Both of them were on edge and Dean knew that he'd probably get in huge trouble if Dad found out but they needed to get out for a while, both of them. As long as they stayed together and he didn't let Sammy out of his sight, it should be fine.
"OK," Dean finally agreed, his voice low and trembling. He winced at the thought of what might happen if they got caught but he took another deep breath and with more confidence repeated, "OK. Yeah let's go."
"Really?" Sammy perked up.
"Really," Dean breathed, "but uh… it's our secret, OK?"
Giggling with glee, his temper tantrum forgotten Sammy tackled Dean to the floor, embracing him in a big bear hug. "You're the best!"
Dean laughed trying to push Sammy off him as he kept his big brother pinned. "Get off! Get off or I'll change my mind!"
Sammy rolled off him and ran to get his shoes.
"We have to agree to some rules though!" Dean hollered after him, "We can't go swimming or anything."
"Can I get my feet wet?"
"I guess but no deeper than your ankles."
"OK!" Sammy said.
"And you can't talk to anyone," Dean added, "and always stay close to me."
Mentally psyching himself up for their rebellious outing Dean took another breath, wondering what the heck he was thinking. It was the first time since the Shtriga that Dad left Sammy alone with him. It was his chance to prove that he could follow orders and be trusted again and here he was breaking one of the biggest rules Dad left them: don't go to the lake. Or anywhere for that matter. The cabin was protected with wards and salt lines and protective sigils—anywhere else would be unsafe from the types of things Dad hunted and Sammy tended to be a magnet for trouble.
Dean made sure he had his trusty silver bladed knife Dad got him for his tenth birthday and his .22 safely concealed but within easy reach if he needed them and then he wrote a very apologetic note to Dad in the off chance Dad got back while they were gone. If Dad still wasn't back when they returned he'd just throw it out.
"Ready to go Sammy?"
"Yep!" he exclaimed happily, heaving his backpack over his shoulder.
Dean led the way out of the small cabin and started walking towards the lake. They couldn't see it from where they were situated because of the thick trees, but they were pretty close to the lake and the quiet nearby hamlet. The summer months attracted a few tourists and campers but the cabin Dad got them for the next few weeks was still pretty secluded. It was hidden amongst the trees and bordered by a barbed wire fence that had "No Trespassing" signs all over it. Apparently it belonged to one of Uncle Bobby's friends who was away for the summer.
They walked along the small dirt path that was created mostly by deer and other animals. It led to a gravel road that was a direct route to the lake as Dean and Sammy discovered before Dad left on his hunt.
"Sammy stay close to me," Dean ordered when Sammy started to skip further ahead.
Sighing Sammy stopped to wait for him, and looked down in the dirt, "Look Dean!" he exclaimed, "There's a dead porcupine!" He crouched down to get a closer look and reached down to get a stick.
"Don't touch it Sammy!"
"I'm not!" Sammy huffed impatiently, grabbing the stick and poking the dead animal, rolling it over. "Ew! Gross!"
"What?" Dean asked, catching up to his brother and looking.
"Put the stick down Sammy, c'mon," Dean groaned as he slapped a mosquito that landed on his arm and walked ahead, pausing after a couple of steps to turn back to his brother, "Hurry up!"
"I'm comin', I'm comin'," Sammy sighed, dropping the stick and rejoining his brother.
They kept walking until they reached a clearing and Dean looked around in confusion.
"Where are we?" Sammy asked, voicing the same thought to run through his head.
"I don't know," he shrugged, "must've veered off the path somehow. Can't be far to the road though."
"Hey Dean! Look!" Sammy exclaimed, "There's a river! Did'ja know there's a river here?" He ambled ahead, pointing to a stream of water.
Dean shook his head negative, following close behind. It wasn't exactly a river since it was too small, but it was rushing through the clearing fairly quickly and looked too deep to wade across and too wide to jump over.
"Let's follow it!"
"I don't know Sammy, I thought you wanted to go to the lake," Dean pointed out.
"Prob'ly empties into the lake," Sammy pointed out, "or maybe it can lead us to the road!"
"I think we should get back on the path, find the road that way," Dean frowned, "because we know that way."
"We can always follow the river backwards if we have to," Sammy pointed out.
Dean sighed, "All right. But stay away from the edge. I don't want you to fall in, OK?"
"OK," Sammy shrugged. They walked side by side down the creek until they reached the road. The stream flowed under a small bridge and winded down the other side of the gravel road. That was when Sammy spotted a white jackrabbit across the road and on the other side of the creek. "Dean lookit! Lookit over there!"
"What is it?"
"A white rabbit!"
Dean chuckled. Now that they found the road and were on more familiar ground he had loosened up some and was actually confident that Dad wouldn't be back before they were. "Cool," he shrugged with a grin. The rabbit was sitting still in a little dip in the ground and almost looked like a small boulder but when it noticed them it perked up, raising its ears and looking around in attention.
"It saw us!" Sammy exclaimed.
"Yeah," Dean agreed, "c'mon, before we scare it away." He took Sammy's hand and started to lead the way down the road. Sammy turned towards the rabbit again.
"It's following us!" he pointed towards the rabbit.
Dean looked again. The rabbit was on their side of the creek this time, though still across the road. "It's probably another rabbit," Dean chuckled, "no way it could get on this side of the creek so fast."
"No, it's the same one," Sammy insisted.
"And how do you know?"
"'Cuz it's white."
"Well I read that jackrabbits turn white in the winter and brown in the summer. This one is white and that has to be special."
"That's nice, Sammy," Dean frowned, "now c'mon dude, I thought you wanted to go to the lake."
Sammy turned his attention away from the rabbit and began to follow his brother. But then he glanced back at the rabbit, noticing that the rabbit was indeed following them. When he stopped walking, the rabbit stopped and looked at him and Sammy could swear the rabbit was telling him to follow it the way it tilted its head. With a shrug he decided that if it wanted him to follow, he should follow. The compulsion to do so was strong, so trusting Dean to turn around and follow him he followed the rabbit as it darted to the other side of the creek. He crossed the bridge and the rabbit led him through the trees where he continued to follow until he realized suddenly that he was alone. Dean wasn't following him like he assumed he would and he was so busy focusing on the rabbit that he wasn't paying attention to where he was going.
"Dean?" he called, "Dean! Where are you?"
He relaxed when he heard Dean's distant voice calling him back, sounding a little frantic.
"Over here!" Sammy called, running towards the sound of his brother's voice. Suddenly his foot caught on something and he tripped, he threw his hands up to catch himself and screamed. He landed with a thud and pain shot up through his arm and his leg and he began to cry as the white jackrabbit hopped beside him and watched him with beady black eyes that for a brief moment he could've sworn flashed yellow.
Meanwhile Dean had been walking ahead, not realizing that Sammy had wandered off. He was beginning to get a bad feeling about breaking the rules to go to the lake. It was a bad idea in the first place and he was beginning to regret it as much as the rebellion excited him. When he turned around to make sure Sammy was keeping up he panicked when he saw that Sammy was no where to be seen.
"Sammy?" he called, feeling his heart begin to pump rapidly in his chest, "Sammy!"
He hurriedly began to backtrack, "Sammy!"
"Over here!" he heard and Dean allowed a second to breathe a sigh of relief. Sammy hadn't gone too far and he was OK. The moment was fleeting when he heard Sammy scream and then cry in pain.
"Sammy!" he cried out, running blindly towards the sound of his brother's sobs. The bridge was too far away at this point and Dean would have to backtrack if he crossed it because Sammy sounded like he was just out of sight on the other side of the creek. Without even thinking about it he crossed the creek using a fallen tree trunk, not caring when his foot slipped and he ended up knee deep in water, he just trudged the rest of the way across and ran through the trees until he could see him lying on the ground crying. He slid down beside him like a baseball player sliding onto home plate, "Hey, let me see…" he soothed, "what happened?"
"I fell!" he cried, holding his hand with a pathetic grimace on his face.
Dean gently pulled his hand away and saw a mild scrape on his palm, nothing to be too concerned about but there was blood and it had to sting. "It's OK, we'll get you a band-aid…are you hurt anywhere else kiddo?"
Sammy nodded pathetically, pointing to his foot which was stuck under a tree root.
"OK," Dean nodded, paling at the awkward angle Sammy's foot was resting, he gently manoeuvred Sammy so his leg was straight, garnering a whimper from his little brother. He darted his eyes to meet Sammy's with concern. "Hang on squirt, I'm going to get you out of this, then I'll take you home, OK?"
Sammy nodded hiccoughing through his tears.
Dean got a good grip of his brother's leg and the root, lifting the root as much as he could, which wasn't much, and then, "OK, on the count of three. One.. two…" he gently pried Sammy's foot from the tree root, and Sammy howled out pathetically as it brought him obvious pain. But the foot slid out easier than Dean feared. "Shh, it's OK Squirt, you're OK."
Gingerly Dean took off Sammy's sneaker, eliciting a hiss from his little brother and Dean gently shushed him as he looked him in the eye, "Take it easy, man, I'm just going to see it."
"But it h-h-ur-rts!" Sammy sniffled, trying to hold back his tears.
"I know," Dean soothed, "I know. Just gonna take a look at it." He swallowed nervously at the sight of mild swelling around his ankle, but then he couldn't help but roll his eyes when Sammy cried out in anticipation of pain, "No need to be a cry-baby kiddo, I haven't even touched it yet!"
"But I know it's g-gonn-na h-hurt!"
"I'll be gentle," Dean promised, keeping true to his word as he probed his ankle, sighing in relief when he saw that it wasn't broken, just sprained and sore. "You're OK Sammy," Dean smiled, "it's not too bad." And it wasn't. He might have to take it easy for a day or two and stay off it, but it could've been worse.
Sammy glared at him and gave one, loud dramatic sniffle.
"But I know it hurts, OK?" Dean rubbed Sammy's shoulder and let him cry it out a bit. "So what were you doing wandering off Squirt? You know you're not supposed to do that."
"The rabbit, it wanted me to follow it," Sammy explained, wiping his nose with the back of his hand.
Dean stared at him incredulously, "The rabbit?"
He started to laugh and Sammy glared at him sharply, "C'mon, that's the silliest thing I ever heard."
"It's true!" Sammy said and then frowned, "Or at least…I thought it did."
"OK even on the off chance it did want you to follow it Alice, you know you're not supposed to wander off like that," Dean said, "What if something happened?" At the look Sammy shot him he amended, "Something really bad? What if you got lost and I couldn't find you, what if you fell in the creek? What if you broke your ankle instead of sprained it? Besides you could've fallen down the rabbit hole and ended up in Wonderland and then the Queen of Hearts might cut off your head."
Sammy blew a raspberry at him.
"It would be a very tragic thing," Dean said solemnly, before cracking a smile, making Sammy grin and chuckle a little, forgetting the pain.
"OK, I guess it was kinda silly."
Dean shrugged it off with a smirk, "You ready to get up now so I can get you home and patched up?"
Sammy shook his head.
"You can ride on my back," Dean promised, already turning and leaning forward so Sammy could climb on without having to stand up. "Climb aboard,Alice," Dean teased as Sammy wrapped his arms around his neck. "You ready?" He felt Sammy nod against his shoulder and Dean pushed himself to his feet.
"Your pants are wet," Sammy commented as Dean walked, his bare foot brushing against Dean's wet jeans.
"Fell in the creek coming after you," Dean replied.
Sammy snorted, "Klutz!"
"Says the kid who sprained his ankle tripping over a root," Dean retorted with a chuckle, grimacing as he felt the water in his saturated sneakers squishing between his socks and toes. He hardly noticed it while he was too busy worrying about Sammy but now he was feeling the cold. He walked past the trees that had concealed his little brother and pointed to the fallen log, "Fell off that."
"Why didn't you use the bridge?"
"Then I would have to backtrack," Dean replied, adjusting his grip on his brother, "I thought you were in trouble, it would've wasted time."
"I was in trouble," Sammy murmured, "I was stuck."
"I meant immediate danger, doofus," Dean huffed, "but yeah. Hope this teaches you not to wander off without telling me. You could've told me to wait you know, given me some signal that you were going to go chasing rabbits."
"I know, I'm sorry," Sammy burrowed his face in Dean's shoulder, sniffling.
Dean softened, "Hey, it's OK. Just don't worry me like that anymore, OK?"
They crossed the road and found the small path through the trees and headed home, completely unaware that they were being watched.
A/N Thanks for reading! Please review! Your comments mean the world to me!