BONES AND CROSSES
By: Karen B.
Published in the Blood Brother's Five Gen-Zine. Beta read by the talented Jeanne.
Summary: Everything was scorched unrecognizable. The sun couldn't shine. Nothing could ever grow. Nothing could ever live. Not so much as the smallest microscopic organism. Dean glanced at his protection ring. A prickling inside of him raised his skin into goose bumps along both arms. Would Bobby's ring hold against such destruction? Had Sam's?
Disclaimer: Not the owner.
I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. And I'm asking you sir, at the top of my lungs - that thing! That horrible thing that I see! What's that thing you've made out of my truffula tree?
~ Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
The sun had long disappeared, turning the blue sky brown and putting a chill in the air. Adding to the misery, a light-sprinkling shower pitter-pattered to the gray, clay-colored soil of the ailing forest floor.
The devastation was horrible. Invisible toxic gases hissed out from cracks in the rocks, sending a cloud of foul-smelling gas to his nostrils. Infected and dying trees, bushes, and foliage drooped limply toward the ground. The smell of death and decay was everywhere. Infecting everything. Contaminating anything that so much as took in a single breath within a twenty-mile radius. There was no beauty, only junk, collected and piled up everywhere.
From discarded electronics, rubber tires, shoe boxes, cereal boxes, soup cans, pop cans, paint cans, magazines, books, batteries, rotting fruit and vegetables, even children's once-beloved toys. Massive mounds on top of mounds of hazardous and useless stuff, carelessly strewn about. What was the creature hoarding all this crap for anyway?
Dean couldn't worry about that right now. The only thing he cared about, was worried about, was finding Sam. His brother's life was in danger. Maybe Sam was already— No. No way was he going there. Sam was alive. Dean shuddered and ramped up his speed, his breath fogging out his mouth as he tried not to breathe through his nose.
He forced his legs to move faster, searching with his eyes. The area was too damn silent, his boots slapping the sloppy, wet ground too damn loud.
The wind added to the loudness, moaning a horrible, sickly sound in his ears:
You left him. You left Sam alone. This is your fault.
They'd been hiking the large area over half the day and had found nothing but destruction. Dean had left Sam in a small clearing to drain the main vein. He'd only been gone a few seconds. When he returned, Sam had vanished. All that was left of his kid brother was an uneaten granola bar, and a wet bloodstain on the cold, barren ground.
What was only twenty minutes ago now felt like a lifetime as Dean followed the drag marks left behind by his brother's boots.
"Sammy," Dean breathed as he rounded the haul of an old refrigerator, a mangled, dead animal rotting inside. "Hang on, man, I'm coming for you."
Dean squinted at his finger through the drops of black rain that had increased, thankful for the silver ring of protection Bobby had given him, shielding him from the toxins. Dean could only hope and plead with an unknown source that Sam still wore his ring. If not for the rings, he and Sam would have asphyxiated hours ago, as everything else that had wandered into this contaminated place had.
Dean sloshed through the mushy, gray earth, pulling his duffel bag closer to his body. The weapon he carried inside was his only hope of saving Sam. The only thing that would get rid of the evil presence. A presence that made the ever-unpopular American cockroach look as cuddly as the family pet poodle. Sam carried a sword as well; Dean hoped the kid had a chance to use it.
The ground changed beneath his weight, his boots sinking ankle deep and filling with a gross tar-like sludge. He was becoming frustrated. The air here was thicker, smelling more and more of death, raising Dean's fear for Sam. "Shit."
"What are you, chicken?" he called out aggressively, hoping the old clichéd taunt would draw the beast from hiding.
Dean spun in a circle. The wind seemed to blow gray-on-gray shadows helplessly about. Beneath the brown sky, the hunter suddenly felt hunted. This thing was a professional killer, that much he knew.
He quickly picked up his pace again. The putrid smell nearly made him gag, made him dizzy, made his eyes water. Still, he ran, never slowing, following Sam's trail that was quickly being washed away by the falling rain. He was exhausted but wouldn't stop. Would drop dead in his tracks before he ever abandoned Sam. If he had to crawl through one toxic waste dump after another on his hands and knees, through fire and brimstone, and crashing straight into Hell, he'd never stop.
The rain slowed just as he lost the trail. The forest was grimly silent, pale and bleached of all color. All life sucked away by the spiteful and ever-growing monster.
Irritated, Dean yelled, "C'mon!" He sucked in a cold gulp of wet, stagnant air, forcing his weary legs forward.
Dean was a hunter. A fighter through and through. Right down to the soles of his boots. Sam was too. The kid would hold on for him. Wouldn't draw a final breath until Dean got to his side.
Shaking away the smell of death, Dean found himself traipsing through a graveyard of gnawed bones scattered around the wilted and overflowing weeds. The final resting place for the poor, tortured innocents that dared cross paths with the beast.
Dean's breath was suddenly whipped away from him and his heart damn near pulled from his chest. Not by the moving shadows or the wind, but by what he saw directly in his path: a red-jewel-handled sword protruding up out of the mud. Sam's sword. The kid's jacket lay tattered and bloody on the ground next to it. Both obviously placed there as a marker, a cutting taunt that went far beyond calling the thing chicken.
Dean knew he was close to the lair. Close to getting his brother back. He moved around Sam's sword with a light step, leaving the weapon jammed in the mud. He had his own sword and he would use it with a driving force of vengeance that paled against any other.
"You are so fucking Kibbles and Bits." Dean growled his threat, hoping the beast could hear him.
The elements kicked up violently again as if in response. Huge drops of rain suddenly crashed down from the ill-colored sky, icy and cold. Lightning shot through the darkness, damn near blinding Dean. The wind blew wild, howling like an animal, sending debris gyrating like a tornado. Dean struggled to breathe through open lips, but the tainted air took his breath away.
An old TV antenna suddenly flew out of the shadows, skimming across his forehead.
Dean staggered back a step. "Son of a—" Unwilling to sink to his knees, he wiped away the blood that oozed down the side of his face. "You bitch." Dean balled himself up, bending headlong into the wind. He was getting his brother back.
His shoulders hunched, chin dropped low, Dean pushed on, determined eyes seeking. Evil lurked just behind a large, black mound of rocks. He was certain of it.
This was it. Had to be. Dean never wavered as he drew his own weapon, dropping the empty duffel to the ground. The black-jewel-handled sword felt good in his hands. A sword Bobby had crafted for just this occasion. Silently, Dean wished Bobby was there. He could use some backup.
Rigid spine pressed against the rock, Dean inched along the cracks and folds. The wind's pitch decreased, then ceased. The lightning and rain once again stopped.
Wiping droplets of water and blood from his eyes, Dean chanced a peek around the jagged edge of rock.
A bog. A toxic, green pool of inhospitable, ooey-gooey nothingness.
The swampland was wrapped in a thick haze of cloudy fog, the ground littered with the bones of unrecognizable animals. Animals that probably had gone extinct millennia ago. Testimony to what was to come for the rest of the planet if he didn't kill this bitch now.
Utter silence filled the air. Silence like he had never known before. The kind of lifeless, eternal silence he imagined existed before the earth evolved.
Dean's eyes roamed the area.
Everything was scorched unrecognizable. The sun couldn't shine. Nothing could ever grow. Nothing could ever live. Not so much as the smallest microscopic organism. Dean glanced at his protection ring. A prickling inside of him raised his skin into goose bumps along both arms. Would Bobby's ring hold against such destruction? Had Sam's?
Dean didn't let that thought unnerve him. He took in a few steadying breaths, then rounded the rock, sword in hand, ducking around a falling, rusted wire fence.
The smell that hit him was worse than ever. Crushing. Dean turned his head to one side and gagged, wiping spittle from his lips with the back of his hand. Sucking in a few stuttered breaths, he moved stealthily through the mucky bog. There was nothing. Not so much as a stone crunched under his feet.
"Screw this," Dean muttered. "Sammy!" His voice rang out strong and loud and clear.
The tomblike stillness remained, everything around him ghostly and eerie.
Ghostly and eerie had never bothered Dean. He moved in farther, taking inventory of his body as he walked. Breathing normal? Yes. Though the stench made him want to drop to his knees and vomit. Heart beating fast? Check. But beating just the same. Dizzy? Weak? Uncoordinated? Nope, nope, and nope. The ring was holding...so far.
"I know you're here," he whispered, noting a spiraling shadow through the haze. "What the hell?" He moved closer, realizing as he went what he was looking at.
A tree. A very large, very leafless, very dead tree. Probably a giant redwood. Centuries old. Dean only knew that because he and Sam had hunted in the Redwood National and State Parks with Dad when they were kids. Sam had bored Dean out of his boxers schooling him on the name of every tree in sight.
Even though dead, the tree was a solid mass, towering skyward. Its trunk was stripped of all bark, replaced by splotches of blood red. Funky green shit dripped from its branches, forming equally funky green puddles on the ground. Staring upward, Dean frowned. Was that a broken human skeleton hanging by its neck from a limb? It was. And farther up were more. All dangling from their necks, or arms, or legs like some sort of freaky Christmas tree decorations. Some of the bodies were still fairly fresh, skin shriveled and dangling loosely off bone like tender pieces of well-cooked chicken. Eyes sunken. Hair frizzed. The slow squirm of maggots eating what was left of tissue.
Dean crinkled his nose at the hellish site that was obviously the main source of the odor. He nearly vomited, for real this time, but a horrid thought stopped him. "Sam."
Dean kept a fair distance, making a wide circle around the tree. Searching. Frantic. Scared. And for good reason, he soon came to know. There was Sam. Tied to the tree's trunk with thick-as-dinosaur-veins rope. Sam looked in bad shape: hair unruly and knotted, arms cut up and bloodied. His chin dipped, touching his chest and hiding his face. His t-shirt was slashed so much so Dean could see the kid's skin. Skin that looked cold and dead.
"Sammy." Dean's jaw tightened and he rushed forward recklessly.
An earth-shattering roar stopped him in his tracks.
Then everything went stone quiet again. He was being stalked. Dean kept his eyes on Sam. He could hear the sound of breathing, the click-click of claws, like steel blades scraping against rock. He damn near felt the breath of evil against the back of his neck. It sounded like the monster he'd thought had lived under his bed when he was five years old. But Dean wasn't five anymore and monsters were real. He spun around, away from Sam, ready to attack.
But there was nothing there. Nothing but gray shadows and the putrid grime of a polluted pond that looked more like oatmeal than water that lay several yards ahead of him.
"D'n," Sam whimpered painfully behind him.
There was something in his brother's voice… Not pain. A warning.
Dean's stomach muscles tightened and he clutched the sword, but didn't turn or answer.
Behind him, the breeze shifted ever so slightly, and Dean took four careful steps forward. He didn't need a glimpse to know the beast was there, at his back, and far too close to his incapacitated, tied-up brother. He took another three slow, large steps forward, needing to put space between himself and Sam, knowing the beast would follow him.
Dean could sense sharp teeth set on edge.
His brother's weak voice reached him, louder now. "Go," Sam warned on a gasp.
Dean shook his head. Not likely.
The squish of mud and a thin trail of hot breath tickled Dean's ear. He pivoted around, and found himself little more than a tasty treat staring up at a lizard-like monster with milky-white eyes.
A dragon. Didn't they only frolic in the autumn mist by the sea or some shit? Why he was so surprised...he didn't know. This was the creature they were hunting. He just didn't expect it to look the way it looked.
The dragon was crouched on all fours, leathery wings protruding out its back and flicking nervously at its sides. It was huge. Muscular. Three times the size of Dean, and completely hairless—unless Dean counted the frizzy, gray tuft poking out the top of its head. Its sooty-brown skin was a series of wrinkled flaps completely covered with warts and sores that appeared infected, oozing and dripping a black oily substance.
The creature leered at Dean, displaying a mouthful of sharp, crusted, piss-yellow teeth that jutted out at odd angles.
"Dude, you could turn Medusa into stone," Dean goaded, staring the creature in the eyes. "That your ass or a hole in the ground?"
Without warning, the creature swooped with amazing speed toward Dean.
"Crap!" Dean went flat to his belly, barely avoiding the thrashing barbed tail that damn near took his head off.
The creature landed on all fours like a giant cat a few yards away. With a grace that didn't match its looks, the beast whirled, prowling slowly back to where Dean still lay in the dirt, stunned. The fugly's head hung low, nostrils flaring and dripping thick toxic-green snot.
Stalking claws dug into the ground, jaws snapped. Dean would have lost his head to the repeated clack-clack of jagged teeth, but with equally flashing speed, he dropped and rolled through the green mist to his left. He pushed hard with his hands, jolting straight up to his feet, tall and rigid, again ready to face-off with the beast.
"Touchy, huh, bitch?" Dean gripped the sword, every muscle in his body regimented. "Bring it," Dean growled, never once flinching or backing down. "That all you got, Puff?" he sneered.
The dragon roared and charged, obviously pissed-off.
Where most people would have stumbled back in horror and fright, Dean surged forward with fortitude and John Wayne grit, slashing with his sword, driving the dragon back and striping its long snout bloody. Then he readjusted his aim, ripping a very large chunk out of a leathery wing.
"Nowhere to go now, sweetheart. You're grounded."
The serpent reared like a wild Mustang, towering over Dean. It clawed at the air, breathing fire in anger and pain, torn wing flapping powerlessly at its side.
"Hurts like a mother, huh?" Dean huffed, out of breath. He danced forward, ducking away from the flames. Using his own brand of fire, Dean took a full swing, slicing across the creature's belly.
The cut was deep. Gobs of yellow pus seeped from the wound and the dragon seemed stunned. Distracted by pain, it dropped its head to inspect and lick clean its wound.
Opportunity knocked. Dean raised his sword high over his head and, both hands wrapped around the hilt, raced forward. "Ahhhhh!" He aimed for the monster's jugular but missed his target when the dragon took flight. "Son of a —" Dean's curse was cut off when a mighty blast of heated air came his way, and he ended up sprawled on his belly on the ground once more. Dean rolled to his back, quickly turning his head to one side as a stream of blinding orange flames that smelled like rotten eggs shot just over his head, singeing the side of his nose. He growled, panting for breath.
Dean was dazed, but instinct brought him back upright. Sword still held sweetly in his hand, he lashed blindly out. He briefly wondered why another blast hadn't come. Why his flesh hadn't been burned from his bones. Then he heard his brother scream out.
Dean glanced over his shoulder, vision clearing just in time to see Sam in the jaws of the dragon, the lizard carrying him the way a mother cat carries her kitten, by the scruff—the remnants of his t-shirt choking him. Injured and weak, Sam could only hang there, hands trying to ease the pressure on his throat, boots weakly kicking and legs twisting in the air. The monster dangled Sam over the putrid pond and paused to glare with one eye at Dean.
"You smart-ass," Dean growled. The thing knew it'd met its match in Dean. That he wouldn't give up.
The bitch must have also sensed Dean's protectiveness of Sam. Tossing Sam in the drink would slow Dean down, give the creature time to heal or escape. In a split second, Dean quickly read the fugly's intent: Kill me or save him.
Dean swore the thing smiled before it flung Sam with a great toss of its head, landing his kid brother dead center of the unmoving water.
"Sammy!" Dean yelled.
As if time stood still, Dean met Sam's eyes. Sam was sinking fast, panting out his open mouth and unable to move in the thickness of…of whatever that shit was.
Dean silently conveyed an apology, knowing what had to be done.
Sam gave a nod, pressing his lips together in a show of determination.
In a barrage of shrill screams, the dragon charged right at Dean, gaining just enough speed to lift off the ground a few feet, treacherous claws making an overhead pass. Dean slipped in the sewage, going down on bended knee. Using one hand, he hastily pushed himself upright just as the dragon made another sweeping pass. The hook of one claw gouged a path across his shoulder. Blood curled down the length of Dean's arm and dripped from his fingertips.
Dean yelped, a piercing cold wind blowing right through his jacket as the dragon hovered just barely above him, its uninjured wing beating furiously. The damn thing was toying with him.
The beast roared, then sucked in a breath, filling its chest and stretching its long neck like a friggin' giraffe. Head up high, the dragon readied itself to cook Dean like a marshmallow.
Above the loudness, Dean swore he could hear Sam's gasping breaths. He wanted to run to him, but kept his feet glued to the ground, steadying his stance and keeping his attention locked on the beast.
"Let's rock this out," Dean provoked, twirling the sword in his hand as he peered straight into the white of the dragon's eyes. "I spit fire too, bitch."
The beast charged, killer teeth and claws heading straight for Dean. Suppressing his fear, Dean sucked in a desperate breath and held it. In a flurry of one flapping wing and gusts of foul air, Dean was knocked onto his back. The dragon kept coming, obviously determined to rip through Dean's chest and tear out his heart.
"Ahhh!" Dean was pushed farther into the ground, the creature's potbelly brushing his torso, its mouth inches from Dean's head.
Dean's lips twitched into a smile. With both hands clinging tight to his weapon, he thrust upward with a grunt, lancing his blade deep into the beast's chest, not stopping until he buried the sword, hilt and all, leaving it there like a poisonous thorn.
The dragon wailed in pain. Dean cringed, certain the creature's dying breath would roast him alive, but only a puff of smoke exhaled from the beast's mouth, followed by a spray of cold blood.
Without further concern for himself or the creature, Dean scrambled to his feet and raced to the edge of the bog.
"Sam!" He dropped to his knees with a splash.
Sam was only a few feet away, chest deep in the bog, floundering and groaning. Upon closer inspection, Dean could tell the pond was like quicksand, sucking Sam down.
"Sam," Dean reached out, "give me your hand."
Sam seemed completely out of it, weakly wiggling, eyes squeezed shut.
"Crapcrapcrap." Dean stretched every bone and muscle he had in his body. "Saaam," he ground out, "open your eyes, man."
Sam was muttering gibberish, sinking deeper with every movement, up to his neck now.
"Sammy! Open your eyes and take my hand," Dean ordered forcefully.
As if by instinct alone, Sam's eyes snapped open, but they were unfocused as he stared back at Dean, struggling to breathe through open, gunk-coated lips.
"Sam." Dean extended his hand farther. "What's with you?"
Sam didn't answer. He stopped wiggling, didn't even try to reach a hand toward Dean. Just stared at him, disconnected. There was slime in his hair and his eyes, and bubbling out his nostrils.
"Sammy! Take my hand, right now!" Dean yelled, his voice distorted by fear and anger.
Sam's tongue slid out and swiped goo off his lips as he suddenly became aware and flung an arm out, fingertips just barely touching Dean's.
"Good. Good." Dean dropped flat to his belly to extend his reach. "Just a little more," he grunted, lengthening his body inch by inch. "Got you," he said in triumph as his hand slapped against Sam's and he locked on. "Hold tight, Sammy."
Sam tried to do as he was told, but his slime-coated hand slithered out of Dean's grasp, separating them once more.
Eyes wide with terror, Sam gurgled as the gunk seeped between his lips and blocked his nose completely.
"No!" A horrible panic spiked through Dean. "Sam! I'm here. I won't let you go," Dean gritted out between his teeth. "Try again. Take…my…hand," he urged, every finger working. But it was no use; the slime drug Sam deeper. The last thing Dean saw was Sam's eyes as they rolled up into his head, the thick liquid of the pond silencing his choking gurgles.
"Damn it to hell," Dean bellowed. The sight of Sam going down terrified him in a way supernatural things never could. Dean's heart jackhammered, and he did the only thing left to do: he jumped in after Sam. Feet first, not even bothering to pull off his boots. He landed with a heavy plump nearly on top of where Sam had gone under.
"Not getting away from me that easy, kid." Dean had Sam by the scruff of his neck and, with superhuman strength, pulled him up out of the sick slop.
Sam came to the surface gagging and boneless. They were both covered in the wet cement-like crap.
Sam's mouth opened and closed, gunk dripping from the corners of his lips, head lolling.
"No, you don't." Dean gave Sam's slime-covered cheek a couple hard pats. "No sleeping, Sammy."
They weren't far from the bank, but the going was slow, the bog thick and dark and gooey.
Dean tangled Sam awkwardly in his arms, tugging him along through the nasty smelling substance, fighting the pull that wanted to take them both down.
"Guh," Sam gagged.
Dean's gaze flicked over to Sam. "I know, bro, crap smells like your unwashed hairy armpits." Dean gave a light chuckle.
"Dee?" Sam sucked in air helplessly. "You bag it?"
"Of course. I am awe-awesome, aren't I?" Dean stuttered, breathing fast. "Aren't I?"
"De…debatable. Uh." Sam jerked sharply as his knees scraped the bottom of the bog.
"Hold on," Dean soothed, never releasing his grip on Sam's arm. "Almost…almost there."
Dean hooked his hands under Sam's arms and hauled him to shore, quickly flipping Sam over onto his back.
"That…" Sam curled up onto his side, shuddering violently and swiping gunk away from his mouth and nose. "...was stupid of you. Jumping in."
"Stupid is as stupid does," Dean said, clambering to his knees and protectively hunching over Sam to get a look at the boy's face.
"Very profound of you, Forrest," Sam sputtered, sucking at air.
"Shut up," Dean growled, eyeing Sam up and down, but unable to see anything due to the gunk. "Where you hurt, Sammy?"
"Not that bad," Sam grunted, using his hands to push himself up to sitting.
"I didn't ask how bad, dude. I asked where," Dean hissed impatiently, glaring at Sam.
"Everywhere, but mostly my lower right leg," Sam admitted, coughing up more goop.
Dean went to work, shivering with cold, shaky hands rolling up Sam's pant leg. Dean bit his lip. "Grotty souvenir, man." He continued to roll Sam's pant leg up higher to reveal the entire length of the gash.
Sam moaned as wet, crusted material scraped past the wound. "What's it look like?" Sam asked, blinking hard to clear his vision.
"You still wearing your protection ring?" was Dean's answer as he quickly ripped a piece of his own shirt off to wrap it around Sam's calf.
"That bad, huh?" Sam winced as Dean tied off the material.
Dean shot Sam a stern look. "Ring?"
Sam raised a hand, examining it closely. "Got it." The ring was just barely visible under all the sticky stuff.
"Good." Dean came closer to grip Sam by the biceps and bring him upright.
"So, my leg?" Reluctantly, Sam followed, clearly trying to force the dizziness away, his hold on Dean's arm weak.
"I dunno, too bloody to tell," Dean muttered, his unsympathetic voice not matching the worry in his eyes.
"That case, you want to carry me?" Sam skimmed a shaky, gunk-caked hand through his gunk-caked hair.
"Don't be ridiculous, Sammy, you're a lethal load. Besides, I don't get cash back rewards for hauling your ass around. Want to break my back? Slip my disc? Give me a hernia? Cramp my style?"
Sam laughed. "Wouldn't want that to-arrrrgh," he moaned, eyes rolling skyward and face going stark-white. His knees trembled, and he sank toward the ground.
"Hey, hey, don't do that. Stick with me, buddy." Dean held Sam up, clutched him close.
"'Kay. Okay." Sam breathed in through his nose and out through his mouth, regaining composure.
"Car's not far, Sam. Think you can make it?"
"Let's just get out of here," Sam muttered, his trembling growing. For a moment, his feet didn't move.
Dean took a tighter hold around Sam's waist, woozily steering them around the cracks in the gray clay-covered ground that still emitted the monster's toxin. "Come on, tagalong, you're gonna make it."
"Are you?" Sam mocked, then his head suddenly fell limply forward. Sweaty bangs dangled in his face and the toes of his boots drug along the ground, leaving behind a trail.
"Sam." Dean placed two fingers under Sam's chin and lifted.
Sam winced, head wobbling.
"Hey!" Dean shouted right in his ear.
"Wha—?" Sam's feet scrabbled for purchase as he slouched against Dean.
"Little help." Dean bore more of Sam's weight, bringing him up.
Sam mumbled something absently. Something about life and boxes of chocolate.
"Enough with the Forrest Gump crap, bro." Dean gave him a little shake, snapping Sam's head about.
"Yes, drill sergeant," Sam muttered, barely awake.
"Not funny, Sam."
"Where'd you-you say…" Sam weeble-wobbled, "...p-p-parked the car?"
"Right next to the all you can eat Chinese buffet. Ha! Now that's funny."
Sam's left foot went right and his right foot went left as if trying to get away from him in a bone-jarring Twister game. "Nuuu," he cried.
"Dude, don't do that! Just walk," Dean barked, guiding Sam around a pile of rotting something or other.
Sam pulled a face. "Can't even…think about food." He let out a long, breathy sigh, then slithered out of Dean's grasp toward the ground.
"Sam!" Dean struggled to hold his brother's tall, bulky frame up, but the kid had gone all floppy, like he had no spine, dragging both of them down to the sloppy ground with a kerplunk.
"Ah, shit, Sammy." Dean frowned at his unconscious brother, then looked up to see his baby only a few yards away. "Fine, kid, have it your way," he resolved, putting both hands to Sam's arms and with a grunt, pulled Sam up and over his shoulders into a fireman's carry. Dean's body tensed and his knees shook. "Geez…" He took a few breaths, waiting a second for his legs to adjust to the extra weight. "Spoiled little brothers," Dean huffed, heading to the Impala, "on the next Oprah Winfrey show."
"Ahhhhhhh!" Sam jerked into a sitting position, his cry bouncing off the interior of the car.
Dean stopped his ministrations, steadying Sam's leg with a strong hand. "Whoa there, Sammy." He screwed the cap back on the whiskey bottle and set it on the floor, regretting having to use it. But at the moment, it was the only thing he had available to clean out the gash in Sam's leg. "You finally awake?"
The car went quiet again, except for Sam's breathing. He was staring questioningly down the length of his body.
Half-inside the car, half-out, Dean was crouched awkwardly by Sam's legs, his brother stretched out on the backseat of the Impala. His hands were a bloody mess as he worked on Sam's injury.
"Oh, God." Sam squeezed his eyes shut, grit his teeth, and banged his head back against the car's window. "Damn it, Dean!" he breathed sharply, staring at his injured leg.
"Yep, you're awake." Dean nodded. "And don't move again like that." Real concern seeped into Dean's voice. "Your leg wouldn't stop bleeding." He gave Sam's good leg a casual pat, then went back to working on the injured leg. "Have to do a quick pressure bandage."
"Oh," Sam managed, breathing fast and arching his back against the door.
"Shh, easy does it, Sammy. Almost done. How you doing? Think you can hold out a few more minutes?"
Sam didn't answer.
Dean snapped his eyes briefly up at Sam. The kid was a sweat-soaked, quivering mass, staring at his leg. "Dude, don't watch."
"Yeah, o-okay." Sam's eyes moved to stare at Dean's shoulder instead. "You're bleeding."
"It'll hold. You can stitch me later," Dean said, watching as his brother's face went from white to tinged green. "Just stop watching before you puke."
Sam looked out the back window, but it was obvious he was struggling not to do just that, struggling to hold his leg still and not pull away.
Sensing Sam's pain, Dean started to talk for distraction as he went back to work. The confines of the car made the going slower than he'd have liked.
"So," he began, "I talked to Bobby. He says good job on this one."
Sam shivered, looking like a cold, green glacier.
Dean frowned, but kept working.
"Don't want to rush you, but if you don't hurry up, man, I am going to puke all over your car."
Dean shot Sam an icy stare. "You really going to hurl?"
"Maybe not." Sam swallowed hard and gave a weak smile.
"Good." Dean taped the gauze in place. "That oughta do until we can get you to a motel and get that cleaned out properly and stitched."
Sam winced. "Y'suppose it matters much if I do?" Sam's gaze shifted to the gunk still dripping off them both. "Hurl, I mean."
The goo was everywhere. "Nah, guess not." Dean snagged the half-full bottle off the floorboards. "Here," he said, offering the whiskey to Sam. "Try this."
Unenthusiastically, Sam took a few swallows.
"Better?" Dean asked, slipping farther into the car to cover Sam with the blanket they kept in the trunk.
Sam went stiff as Dean drew him forward, just enough to tuck the blanket tight around him. "Not yet," Sam admitted, taking several more long gulps of alcohol. "But soon." He knocked back another drink.
Dean smiled, easing Sam gently back. "That's my boy." Leaning over Sam, he pressed the latch down, locking the door. He didn't need Sam falling out. Losing his brother again so soon wasn't an option. Losing him again ever. "Stay put and rest. I'll wake you when we get to a motel."
Sam gave a small nod, handing the bottle back to Dean.
"You going to be okay riding back here?"
"Don't lie to me, Sam."
"Really…pretty okay, Dean."
Dean stared at him a moment.
"Just get us out of here," Sam said.
"You got it, little brother." Dean shut the door and slid behind the wheel. He gave Sam one last look in the rearview. Kid shifted to get comfortable, already nearly asleep.
Satisfied for now, Dean pulled the Impala out onto a gravel road and through a gate, the tires bumping over a big sign that had fallen to the ground:
Kirk County Landfill.
"The average human tosses out 1500 pounds of garbage each year" (Mickey Z., 2009). This implies that if the problem of trash is not addressed soon, the Earth will rapidly become a planet full of rubbish. - Milwaukee Journal, 19 Apr 70
Trash: there are no rugs left to sweep it under.
-"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not."
― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax