Title: Where the Weeping Willow waits
Author: Disasteriffic Kaz
Info: Nothing is ever quite what it seems in the forest in the dark. Set after 7x14 "PPMM" hurt/comfort/awesome!Sam/Dean
Author's Note: Sorry about the hold up on this one. :D The boys around here were trying to nail a particularly nasty virus on my laptop. So nasty it briefly turned my laptop into a paperweight. 0.0 It's working again but they're still trying to save it as we speak. So temporarily time-sharing the PC with my honey…I want mah Baby back dammit! XD
Do please Review once you've read. :D Every comment and vote of support helps keep me writing. Not to mention if I've pooched anything, someone can always tell me. :P
The earth shifted at the base of the Willow tree beside the Witch's house. Something moved beneath it as the hanging, graceful branches above swayed with no help from a breeze. They reached to the soil as it bulged upward, digging their long tendrils in and pulled. A shape crusted in dirt rose into the morning light wrapped lovingly in the limbs as they laid it gently beside the trees trunk. The bundle of roots and earth moved, arms spreading wide as they fell away and the Willow man rose from the bed of disturbed earth to wrap its arms around its tree.
Fire had burned it and it felt the flames still, shivering as the Willow tree wrapped comfortingly around it. It hungered and it wanted revenge. It wanted to taste their blood and to offer them to its tree, to appease it for harming them but first…the hunger won. It was weak, its power spent in its rebirth. It needed to feed. It turned toward the West where it knew man's civilization waited and it walked on unsteady legs to find a little one…a little one to feed them both.
"You wanna wait til nightfall?" Dean asked, watching Sam bend over stiffly to grab a bottle of water from the little refrigerator. He thought maybe Sam could use a few more hours lying down but Sam shook his head.
"I don't think we should." Sam leaned carefully against the dresser and frowned. "Regenerating has to use up a lot of energy." He gave Dean a dark look. "He's going to need to feed."
"Crap." Dean leaned back in the chair with a thump. "So if we wait for dark some poor kid's gonna end up on the menu."
"Yeah. We probably have a few hours but…" Sam shrugged. "Not much more than that I'd bet."
"Go grab a shower then before you can't move." Dean chuckled. "I moved faster than you when I was ninety." He laughed at the look of disgust on Sam's face at the reminder of the time Dean had been aged.
"I'm fine." Sam rolled his eyes. "Just gonna brush my teeth." He went in the bathroom slowly and shut the door.
"Uh huh." Dean was all for the old Winchester adage of 'suck it up and carry on' but the way Sam was moving he'd never survive a fight. The hot water would loosen him up so Dean made an executive decision, being the awesome big brother he was. He went to his duffel and took out the brown bag he'd picked up at the store yesterday. He chuckled and blew a breath into the bag, expanding it and went to the bathroom door. Dean silently turned the knob and eased it open. He angled the head of the bag in near the top of the door and then slapped the bottom of the bag.
A cloud of sparkling glitter erupted into the bathroom to shower down around Sam's head and shoulders and he roared. Dean laughed uproariously and ducked away as the door opened and six feet four inches of furious sasquatch stalked out.
"Dean you son of a bitch!" Sam shouted as Dean dropped back onto his bed, tears of laughter running down his face.
"That…was awesome!" Dean gasped and rolled away as Sam reached for him, going for the door. "Twenty minutes Tinkerbell! Take a damn shower."
Sam watched Dean run, pulling the door shut on a laugh and threw his arms up in the air. Glitter showered off of him to the floor. "I'll kill him." He growled. He turned back to the bathroom, having no choice but to shower and then stopped, a grin pulling across his face. "On the other hand." Sam went to Dean's bed and whipped the blanket and sheet back. He leaned over his brother's bed and rubbed his glittery hair furiously creating a downpour of sparkly particles onto the exposed sheet. Happy the irritating stuff was evenly distributed, he pulled the top sheet and blanket back, carefully making the bed so it looked no different than it had.
Sam dusted his hands off and went into the bathroom with a happy chuckle. "Teach him to glitter bomb me."
Dean snuck a glance at Sam moving beside him through the woods and smirked. He was moving much better for letting the shower beat out some of the ache, not to mention the stray flickers of glitter that stubbornly refused to leave his mop of dark hair. He couldn't stop the amused snort.
"Shut up." Sam glared over at him. He was actually enjoying the hilarity his brother found in the glitter; it was so nice to see him smile and actually feel it and to hear that laugh that had been missing for so long. Sam knew though that part of the fun was his frustration so he gave him that too.
Dean smirked and then focused his attention on the woods. "Head in the game, sparkles."
Sam reached out a long arm and slapped Dean up the back of his head as they neared the Witch's house. Dean growled at him but said nothing as they slipped silently forward to find out if the Willow Man was waiting for them or not.
"Looks clear." Dean whispered and walked cautiously up to the Willow tree. He watched the boughs warily where they touched the ground as he passed but without the Willow Man there it seemed to be just a tree. He set the bucket down and popped off the lid, whipping his head as the fumes from the Linseed oil hit him. Dean smiled as he packed the soaked towels around the base of the tree. He took the oil still in the bottom of the empty bucket and poured it onto the trunk above the rags, making sure that when they lit it up there'd be no mistake.
Sam handed him his harpoon gun when he came jogging back and turned so Dean could pull a couple of the Molotov bottles from the bag on his back. They split up heading back into the trees and went as still as they could crouched low behind screening bushes and waited. Sooner or later the creature would be back and this time they would be ready.
The afternoon began to while away while they remained hidden and still. Dean fought the need to squirm with the itching of the healing wound in his side. He was sure Sam had to be even more uncomfortable hunched over with his abused back for so long. He glanced around the sun dappled clearing behind the house but the only came from the gentle swaying of the Willow's limbs in the cold breeze. A movement drew his eyes and he saw Sam wave a brief hand and point back into the forest. It was coming.
Sam heard footsteps in the fallen leaves. They were erratic, stumbling; not what he had come to expect from the Willow Man. He wondered if perhaps some hiker wasn't wandering in where they shouldn't be when the creature came into view. He wasn't moving with the lithe grace Sam bad come to expect. He staggered and hunched forward as he came, red eyes locked on his tree. Sam frowned. He was carrying something. He squeezed carefully forward to get a better look and nearly gasped when he realized what it was; a child.
Long brown hair tumbled out of the Willow Man's arm to wave in the breeze as it neared its tree. The little one had seen it and screamed at it before it could subdue her. The smell of her flesh was intoxicating, filling all his sense through the long trek back to its tree. It had eyes for little else but her and it gave a soft moan of anticipation as it finally stood before its tree and laid her on the ground at its base. Soon it would feast.
Sam saw Dean jerk in his hiding spot as he too realized what was happening. If they didn't act the girl would die. 'Come on.' Sam silently begged as the Willow Man drew closer to the tree. The long limbs began to move, waving through the air with life of their own. The ground began to shift around the girl's still form and Sam wondered if they were already too late. Roots began to emerge from the earth to wave and wrap up and over her. The Willow Man stepped up to the trunk of the tree and wrapped his arms lovingly around it, raising his face to the sky and the sun streaming down.
Dean stood and fired his harpoon. It arced between the swaying limbs and pierced through the upper right side of the Willow Man's back, nailing him to the tree. "Sam!" He shouted and watched as his brother stood and fired his own harpoon. The second drove through the middle of the creature's back as he screamed in surprise and rage. The entire jerked, leaves showering down like dry rain as the little girl was pulled beneath the soil by the roots.
"Light it up!" Sam yelled to his brother and lit the first of his own Molotov bottles. He watched Dean arc two of the flaming bottles through the air to strike the base of the tree and flames erupted up the trunk and the Willow Man's struggling form. Sam threw his and then followed after. He dove beneath the whipping limbs of the tree, rolling to his feet.
"Dammit, Sam!" Dean watched him run near the inferno at the base of the tree and fall to his knees.
Sam dug furiously into the loose earth with his hands. The heat from the flames only a foot away seared the skin of his face. He ignored it as his hands found a coat and then an arm. He cleared the soil as fast as he could and got a grip on the little girl, pulling with all his strength. The roots holding her resisted at first but released her in a rush. Sam tumbled back with the girl on his chest.
"Sam! Get the hell out of there!" Dean shouted above the roar of the fire and the Willow Man's screams.
Sam scrambled to his feet with her and ran for the corner of the Witch's house. He skidded to a stop and laid the child down beyond the wall and outside the reach of the tree. He held his hand above her mouth and nearly swooned with relief; somehow she was still breathing. He stood and came back out from behind the house.
"Dean! She's alive!" Sam yelled and then gasped as thick rope of twined limbs came swinging for him.
"Sam!" Dean ran from his cover, sprinting beneath the Willow to try and reach him. He watched as the limbs slapped into Sam and entwined around his arms, yanking him from his feet.
The Willow Man craned its head and glared at the two men. They would take its food and try to kill it and its tree? It would make them pay with its dying breaths.
Dean made a grab for Sam's foot as he was hoisted above his head and grunted as something slammed into his back. He was lifted off his feet and thrown through the air. The limbs of the Willow Tree parted in his path and he could only watch as he fell toward the closed door of the Witch's cellar. He crashed into them and through them to tumble down the short flight of stairs.
"Dean!" Sam struggled, trying to free his arms from the limbs twined around them as his brother vanished into the cellar in a tangle of limbs. "Dammit!" He pulled on his right arm and looked up. "Oh crap." The flames had eaten their way up the trunk and were now working out over the crown of the Willow tree and beginning to creep down the long limbs toward him. Below, the Willow Man writhed against the trunk of the tree, unable to free himself and screamed his rage up at Sam. The limbs holding him tightened their grip around his forearms painfully. The flames were getting closer. He could feel their heat on his hands. Sam felt a sudden lessening of the tension on his right arm and pulled. The burning limbs above parted and his arm fell away as flaming bits of tree and leaves showered down around him, kissing his head and face with their heat.
Dean groaned and then gagged. The Witch's putrefying corpse lay a few feet away and the stench of rotting flesh filled the cellar in an almost visible haze. Flies buzzed in a cloud above the body and her dress shifted minutely in places with the movement of the maggots beneath it as they fed. He fought but couldn't stop the bile that rose up his throat and he rolled to his knees as his hasty lunch made a reappearance across the dirt floor. His eyes watered with the smell, nose burning as his stomach eased and he scrambled back toward the stairs.
"Son of a bitch." He gasped and felt the bottom stair against his back. Sam's voice came down to him, crying out in pain. Dean turned and crawled painfully up the stairs and away from the miasma, desperate for a clean breath of air. His head cleared the door and he stared up into a growing inferno. The fire had spread up the trunk and was now eating its way down the long, whip-like limbs. "Sammy!" His little brother hung by one arm. The limbs wrapped around his left arm up to his shoulder were on fire as Sam twisted, trying to reach his knife and free himself. Dean's eyes narrowed to the base of the tree. The Willow Man, though engulfed in the flames, had his eyes firmly fixed on Sam.
Dean pushed down the pain of the bruises and what he was sure was a bruised, if not broken, rib and staggered to his feet. He ran, ducking beneath the wildly swaying, burning limbs of the tree. He pulled his knife from the back of his belt as he reached the immolation that was the base of the trunk and stabbed his arm into the flames. The point of his knife dove into the Willow Man's left eye. Dean jerked the blade free as the creature let loose an insane scream that pierced into Dean's ears. He stumbled back and looked up in time to see the burning limbs release Sam, dropping him to the ground with a thump.
"Sam!" Dean ran to him. "Come on. Up." He grabbed Sam under the shoulders and pulled the dazed man to his feet.
Sam groaned and fought the blackness that wanted to take him. A quick glance down at his left arm as Dean dragged him back made him wish he hadn't looked. They staggered away from the fiery rain around the side of the Witch's house. "Dean…get the girl."
Dean leaned him up against the wall. "You good?" Sam gave him a weak nod. Dean bent to the little girl. She couldn't have been more than six and weighed nothing as he picked her up and tipped her over his shoulder. It pulled on his ribs and he had to pause for a moment to catch his breath. He looked up when Sam dropped his good hand to his shoulder.
"You ok?" Sam asked, concern in his eyes as he watched Dean struggle to stand up straight.
Dean nodded and pulled Sam with his free arm. "Come on, crispy." They skirted the edge of the clearing behind the house. The Willow Man had gone silent at last and the tree itself was a forty foot bonfire stretching up into the afternoon sky. The Witch's house was on fire now as well, the roof bursting into flames with a whoosh as the dry timbers gave no resistance. The roar of the fire followed them through the forest until they were well away.
"Dude." Sam smirked over at Dean as he stumbled wearily. "You reek."
"You have no idea." Dean groaned and sniffed his own arm with a grimace before he took hold of Sam's right arm to steady him. "That bitch was beyond ripe man." Dean grimaced again at the taste in his mouth. "Tossed my cookies." He glared at Sam's chuckle. "There were maggots."
"Ick. Ok." Sam huddled his left arm against his chest and looked over. "What are we going to do with her?"
"We'll put her in that park we passed and call the cops." Dean adjusted the girl on his shoulder. "Keep an eye on her til they show up." He looked over at the disturbingly burnt arm of Sam's jacket. "Think there's a hospital in your future, Sammy."
Sam shook his head. "No, it's fine. Really."
Dean knew that was crap but didn't call him on it. The argument could wait until he got a good look at it. "You ever pull that superhero crap again without warning me I'll kick your ass." It had taken years off his life watching Sam run into the flames toward the Willow Man.
Sam gave a one armed shrug. He'd do it again if it meant saving the girl and he figured Dean knew that. He fought to keep his legs moving without dragging his feet as they plodded back through the forest and he stumbled to a stop for a moment to just look around. The 'wrong' feeling that had plagued him ever since they first set foot in that forest had vanished. He felt peace among the trees now and the sighing breeze moving the tree limbs around them was a friend, drafting cool air over his burning arm. He smiled.
"Hey, Forest." Dean dropped back and tugged him into a walk again. "When you're done communing with the damn trees can we go please?"
"Sorry." Sam smiled and started walking again.
Dean idled the car into the space in front of their motel room and looked over at Sam. He'd curled into the passenger window, forehead pressed to the glass and asleep. The cops had taken a ridiculous twenty minutes to respond to his anonymous call, leaving them both in a misery of wounds; neither willing to leave their vigil over the still unconscious little girl alone in the park. He got out and went around to the passenger door, easing it open and caught Sam with a hand on his shoulder when he started to tilt forward out of the seat.
"Sam." Dean gave him a gentle shake and smirked at the hazel eyes that blinked up at him. "You want me to carry you in, princess?"
"Bite me." Sam mumbled but didn't put up an argument when Dean reached in and helped pull him out. "Gotta wrap those ribs?" He asked as he saw Dean wince again and splay a hand over his chest.
Dean snorted. "Don't think you've got two good arms to do it." He let Sam stagger to the door on his own and went to the trunk to drag out the first aid kit before following him in.
Sam dropped into a chair at the little table and shook his jacket and flannel off his right arm with a sigh. "This is gonna suck."
"Oh yeah." Dean dropped the kit on the table and pulled a chair up to Sam's left side. "Just…lemme do this part." He peeled the singed fabrics down his brother's arm, suffering each time it caught and pulled at the skin beneath. "Shit, Sammy."
Sam glanced over and groaned, closing his eyes on the bile that rose up his throat.
"No puking." Dean said quickly though he reached out and pulled over the trashcan just in case. "I gotta clean this, kiddo." He laid Sam's arm on the table and went to the bathroom. He filled the ice bucket with cool water and grabbed some towels.
"It's still burning." Sam muttered and jumped when he felt a cold, wet towel laid on his upper arm.
"Easy." Dean laid another towel over his forearm and dropped a hand to the back of Sam's neck. The skin on his arms was angry red and blistered especially below his elbow. The deep, spiral bruises from where he'd been held aloft weren't helping the pain level he was sure. "Let me see your other arm." Sam raised it out to his brother without argument and without opening his eyes, letting Dean know just how much misery he was in. His right arm wasn't burned but it sported the same bruise patterns to just above his elbow.
"S'okay." Sam said and took his right arm back, taking hold of the edge of the table instead. "Just get it over with. Please."
"Ok." Dean pulled the towels off his arm and clenched his jaw. The following ten minutes were a study in agony for Sam that had him flashing on his time in the Cage with Lucifer. No hallucinations for once but the memories were enough to leave him gasping and insensible.
"Shit. Sam!" Dean had hold of his face and gave him a light slap when his eyes started to roll back in his head.
"Sorry." Sam let his head fall forward onto Dean's shoulder, chick flick rule be damned; he needed a minute.
"Don't worry about it." Dean eased him back up. "Almost done, ok?" Sam nodded and Dean went back to his arm. He slathered burn cream from their kit on it and knew when the numbing properties took effect; Sam sighed and collapsed forward to rest his head on the table. Dean quickly wrapped a loose bandage from wrist to elbow and squeezed the back of his neck. "Ok, tiger. All done."
"Thank god." Sam mumbled into the table and made no effort to move.
"Up we go, sasquatch." Dean pulled Sam's right arm over his shoulders and pulled him up from the table, leading him to the far bed and let him down easy.
"Gotta wrap your ribs." Sam opened his eyes finally and made to sit back up but Dean pushed him back down with hand to his chest.
"I can do it." Dean smirked. "Not my first merry-go-round. Get some sleep."
Sam nodded and settled back into the bed with his mummified arm. Dean waited a moment to make sure he'd stay there and then pulled his shirts off with a pained groan. "Crap."
"Dean?" Sam looked up at the sound but Dean waved him back down.
"Would you stop already?" Dean rolled his eyes and snagged the Ace bandage out of the kit before heading to the bathroom. "Sleep, Sam." Dean caught another whiff of himself as he shut the bathroom door and groaned. "Yeesh." He stripped the rest of his clothes and turned the shower on. No way was he getting into bed and waking up with the smell of rotting, dead Witch in the morning. By the time he got out he felt better or at least smelled better. He pulled on sweat pants and grabbed the bandage. It took him twenty minutes and two tries to wrap the bandage around his chest properly and he sighed in relief when it took away some of the pain.
Dean came back in the room and rolled his eyes. "I thought I told you to go to sleep?" Sam watched him and was clearly studying his handiwork wrapping his own chest.
Sam smirked. "Just making sure you did it right." He let his head fall back into the pillow and closed his eyes. "Night, Dean."
"Smart-ass." Dean growled. He padded over and flipped off the light before climbing into his own bed and flopping under the blanket with a groan of happiness.
"Damn." Sam said suddenly and Dean could hear him rustling the blanket. "Forgot to check the salt lines."
"I'll do it. Stay put." Dean threw the blanket back and rolled out of the bed slowly. He heard something that sounded like a snort of laughter from Sam and ignored it. He stepped back to the light and turned it on, glanced back to Sam and his jaw dropped. "Son of a bitch! Sammy you bitch!" Dean's legs and chest were coated in glitter. More sparkled from the sheets of his bed and his little brother was rolling with laughter and groaning in pain at the same time.
"Point…Sam!" Sam raised a finger in the air and drew it down to emphasize his win.
"Soon as that arm is healed I am kicking your ass. You know that." Dean glared at him and then just stood with his arms out, staring down at himself.
"Don't…don't forget the light, Sparkles." Sam wheezed another laugh and batted away the pillow Dean lobbed at his head.
Dean growled loudly and stalked to the bathroom. "Gonna find clowns in all kinds of places they don't belong. You wait, Sammy." He grumbled and shut the door on Sam's laughter. In the bathroom, he leaned against the door and gave a soft chuckle. The glitter was worth the look on Sam's face he decided and shook his head. "Still gonna make you pay." He promised and grabbed a washcloth to start cleaning the sparkly crap off himself, wondering where the nearest toy store was. There were some clown dolls in Sam's future.