Always, apologies for lateness and errors! Probably going to try and wrap this up ASAP but who knows with me. Hope you all had some great holidays and enjoy this one.
Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural.
"You got room for two more?"
Dean tugged the duffel over his shoulder and strode towards a group of people. It was the brother and sister of the kid who went missing and a man Dean didn't recognize.
"Wait you want to come with us?" The girl, Haley, said, her eyes flickering from Dean to Sam, her face a mix of emotions.
"Who is this?" growled the man, narrowing his eyes at Dean.
"Apparently this guy was all the park service could muster up for search and rescue."
Dean smirked and added, "Don't forget Sammy." He knocked Sam lightly on the shoulder. "Can't forget about Sammy."
"You're a ranger?" Roy asked.
"And you're out hiking in biker boots and jeans ..." Haley added skeptically.
"Well sweetheart, I don't do shorts."
"What, you think this is funny? It's dangerous back country out there. Her brother might be hurt and you bring some kid ..."Roy glared at Sam.
"Hey," Dean said in a low tone. "Believe me, I know how dangerous this could get. I just wanna help her find her brother and so I suggest we get moving."
With that, Sam and Dean set forth into the woods, Sam holding himself at full height (nearly to Dean's elbow these days) with his chest puffed out. Sam was going to show Dean that he could be a hunter but first …
"Hey, Dean?" he whispered. He glanced back over his shoulder and took an inventory of the backpacks the others were carrying, the heavy duffle on Dean's back.
Dean smiled at the familiar phrase.
"Do you have anything I can carry?"
Sam got to man the flashlight.
Roy did not like Dean. He glared at Sam. It was only for the sake of this Haley girl and that brother of hers that Dean didn't throw his hands up in the air, take his peanut M&Ms and Sammy by the hand and drag the kid home.
But Dean saw the fear and determination in Haley's eyes. So even when he nearly (nearly according to Roy, in Dean's opinion it wasn't even close) got his foot snapped off by a bear trap, his next step was a snap and crackle of leaves and twigs, forward and further into the unknown.
Dean still grabbed Sam's hand for good measure.
"It's quiet," Sam whispered when they reached Black Water Ridge, courtesy of Roy's begrudging direction. Dean listened and Sam was right. Out there in nature, truly the world should have been teeming with sounds. But there was only silence.
Haley found the campsite in a bloody mess and immediately she began to cry out frantically for her brother.
"Looks like a grizzly," Roy commented.
"Tommy!" Haley screeched.
Sam looked up at Dean uneasily. His thoughts were clear: do you think so? And: too much yelling.
Dean made his way to Haley, who was crying over Tommy's bloody and abandoned cellphone. Dean let go of Sam to put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Hey, he could still be alive."
Just then, someone started shouting for help.
In one swift motion, Dean swung Sam into his arms and ran with the others, all wildly seeking out the voice. Several times his toes caught on rocks, almost spilling the two Winchesters onto the dirt floor of the forest, but Dean's balance saved him every time.
When they found no one, a thought occurred to Dean. "Everyone back to camp, now!"
Nearly everything was gone.
But Dad's journal … Dean flipped through until he found a page: a creature with claws, that could mimic human voices. They were dealing with a wendigo. Sam tried to read his father's looping handwriting but Dean shut the book quickly.
"Come on," Dean tried not to shout. "We need to get out of her before nightfall. Things have changed."
"Kid, don't worry. I think I can handle whatever's out there."
"I'm not worried about myself pal, it's you. If you shoot this thing, you're just gonna make it mad. So we're leaving. Now."
"You giving me orders, kid?" Roy growled, stepping into Dean's space. "Why don't you just bring your mistake back to his mommy and-"
Dean's lip was curling in time with his fist when Sam stamped his foot and cried, "Listen to Dean! it's a wendigo, we're hunting a wendigo-"
Dean grabbed Sam by the back of the shirt. "Sam!" he scolded. Sam looked down at the ground, biting his lip as his cheeks went red.
"But Dean …"
"Kid's crazy," Roy laughed.
Dean's head shot up. "Shove it-"
"Relax! All of you. Tommy might still be alive and I'm not leaving here with him. End of story."
"It's getting late. This thing is a good hunter in the day, but an unbelievable hunter at night. We'll never beat it, not in the dark. We need to settle in and protect ourselves."
"They're Anasazi symbols. It's for protection. The wendigo can't cross over them."
Haley nodded. She had never imagined that her parents would have died. She never had imagined that her brother could go missing. Was it so hard to imagine this?
Roy, however, laughed.
"No one likes a skeptic, Roy."
Dean made his way to Sam, who was sitting a few feet away. A stick in hand, Sam was painstakingly tracing into the dirt the symbols that Dean had drawn.
"Nice, Sammy boy," Dean smiled a little.
Sam shrugged and pulled himself into a tinier ball where he was crouched. Sam started on a new drawing, his lower lip jutting out in concentration.
"Wanna tell me what's going on in that freaky head of yours?"
Sam nodded but didn't say anything. Dean stifled a laugh.
"Well, you gonna say it?"
Sam kept scratching in the dirt until: "Daddy told us to come, but he's not here."
"No, he's not," Dean agreed simply. It was all he could do these days.
"I miss him, Dean." The stick fell from Sam's hand and Dean could hear the hitch in his brother's voice. "Why doesn't he miss us?"
Dean easily slipped a smile on his face and held out his arms to Sam. Sam was there in a heartbeat, crying and clinging. "Sammy, he does. I know he does. I don't always know why dad does what he does but … I think he wants us to pick up where he left off. You know, saving people, hunting things. The family business."
Sam shook his head, his soft hair tickling Dean's neck. "I'm not a hunter," Sam whispered with a miserable sniff.
"You are my right hand man, Sammy," Dean said fiercely. Then: "Like Batman and Robin. You even helped out by learning to draw some protection symbols. Let me look at how great these are," Dean said enthusiastically.
It was then that Sam scrambled out his arm. "The second one wasn't … good," he admitted, and he ran to scuff it out with the toe of his shoe.
However, he wasn't quick enough that Dean didn't have the chance the notice that it wasn't that the symbol wasn't bad at all. It was just that Sam had drawn a heart, instead.