Devils Lake, North Dakota
Dean Winchester stepped on a fallen tree branch, grimacing silently as it snapped, the sound echoing throughout the wooded area.
He looked up and saw his father and younger brother walking a few feet away from him. Close enough so they could easily see each other but not close enough to make them easy targets for their prey.
It was the last night of the full moon and their last chance to kill the werewolf that had been terrorizing the residents of the sleepy, little city. If they didn't get the beast that night, they'd have to wait a whole month! But Dean knew his father was pretty sure the werewolf was the principal of the Devils Lake High School.
The rustle of leaves off to Dean's right had him sweeping the bushes with his flashlight, silver-loaded gun aimed and ready.
A white-tailed deer burst from the underbrush and Dean stumbled back, startled.
Dean jumped again when he felt a hand on his shoulder and looked around to see his father.
"The beast must be close," John said in a barely perceptible whisper.
Dean nodded and his father moved silently away. The young man scolded himself for being such a coward. He had hunted werewolves before; he should be used to surprises.
Dean's gaze traveled to his younger brother, walking carefully a few feet ahead of him. He frowned. Their Dad was supposed to be point! Sam must have gotten ahead of them.
"Sam!" Dean hissed, trying to get his brother's attention.
The younger boy looked over his shoulder and stopped walking. John stepped out of the shadows and spoke to his youngest son, his words too quiet for Dean to hear. Sam nodded and nimbly walked back toward his older brother.
Dean caught his father's eye and lowered his chin. He knew his job was to be backup and protect his younger brother. Sam wasn't even supposed to be with them- he should be back with the Impala like he usually was- but there were no other hunters in the area available and a werewolf hunt took more than two men. Reluctantly, John had given his youngest son a gun, a flashlight and explicit instructions to follow his and Dean's orders. So far Sam had done well, seeming to enjoy being allowed to hunt along with his family instead of being left alone in the car, more than anything else.
The three Winchesters stepped forward another few meters, ears and eyes alert for any sign of trouble. Dean was getting worried that the werewolf wouldn't show up. Its first victims had been killed only a few dozen feet into the woods and by now they were miles into the densely forested area.
Maybe it caught onto us and found a new hunting ground, Dean thought and wondered if he should tell his Dad his concern.
A low growl off to his left captured Dean's attention and he halted, gun and flashlight poised. From the corner of his eye he saw his father and brother stop as well.
Another growl sounded, this ending in a low whine. Dean heard his father's heavier footsteps moving closer toward the source of the noise.
Without warning the werewolf leaped forward, clipping Dean and sending his flashlight to the forest floor where it smashed against a rock and went out. The young man grabbed onto a sapling to keep from ending up on his ass.
"SAM!" Both Dean and John shouted out as the monster landed on their youngest, sending him to the ground under its immense weight.
Dean lifted his gun and took a shot; the bloated moon casting the wolf's massive back in silhouette against its cold, white light.
The bullet grazed the werewolf's shoulder but it was enough. The creature reared up on its hind legs, its chest exposed.
The crack of a gun made Dean flinch uncharacteristically and the monster howled before toppling over. As the wolf died, it transformed back into its human form. Dean didn't even spare the time to realize that his father's suspicion had been correct as he rushed past the naked corpse of Principal Richards.
Dean fell to his knees beside his little brother. Even in the moonlight he could see that the front of Sam's jacket was soaked through with blood.
"Oh God, Sammy," Dean cursed and felt tears well up in his eyes at the sight of his brother's blood.
John kicked the werewolf's body out of the way and crouched down, his flashlight illuminating Sam's prone form.
"He's still breathing, Dad! He's still alive!" Dean exclaimed as he bent over Sam's face.
"We have to get him out of here, Dean," John's voice trembled slightly as he spoke.
Gently, Dean slipped an arm underneath his brother's shoulders and an arm underneath his knees, lifting him up.
"I'll come back later and deal with this," John motioned with his flashlight at the corpse.
Dean nodded but his attention was focused wholly on his brother.
"I…uh, I think he dropped his gun," Dean told his father, "When he got hit, you know?"
John nodded and found the weapon a few feet away from where the werewolf had attacked. He brushed dirt off the pistol and put the safety on before slipping it into his jacket pocket along with his own weapon.
Dean resisted the urge, the voice, that was telling him to full-out run with his brother to the Impala as fast as he could go.
He could hear Sam's breathing but his stillness worried Dean. There was no way to tell how badly he had been hurt until they had more light. Dean fought back tears. He couldn't lose Sam, he just couldn't!
As Dean walked he muttered comfortingly to his brother, unsure if Sam could actually hear him.
"It'll be okay, Sammy," Dean cooed, "Don't worry… we'll have you fixed up in no time."
John was silent as he followed his oldest son through the forest but Dean was sure he was keeping an eye open for any nocturnal predator that might be drawn to the smell of blood. The hunter didn't kid himself, although the biggest threat was dead, there were still regular wolves and bears in the area.
Dean could have cried with relief when the Impala came into view, like their savior.
John unlocked the car's back door and Dean laid his brother down on the bench seat. There was little they could do for Sam until they got back to the motel but John grabbed a thick, wooly blanket from the trunk and handed it to his eldest son.
Dean climbed into the backseat with his brother, cocooning him in the blanket and sat with Sam's head and upper-body on his lap.
Dean ran a shaking hand through his brother's long, dark brown hair reassuringly.
The drive back to the motel that had taken the Winchesters a half hour earlier that day seemed to take only seconds now. Dean blinked as the Impala stopped in the pool of light from the light outside their room.
Dean jumped when his father opened the back door and held his arms out.
"Pass Sam to me," He instructed in a no-nonsense though, fearful voice, "Now, Dean!"
It was dark still and deathly quiet. No one would be paying any attention to them.
Carefully, Dean hoisted his brother's still form up and John grabbed his youngest son.
Dean followed silently as John unlocked the door to their motel room and stepped inside, turning on all the lights.
Dean stepped over the salt line and closed the door behind him, locking it as John laid Sam down on one of the beds.
Now that they were in the brightly lit motel room, Dean could see San's jacket was soaked through with blood and his heart leaped into his throat at how pale his younger brother was.
"Help me get his clothes," John had begun peeling Sam's windbreaker off, his voice full of worry.
Dean stepped forward and tore Sam's t-shirt down the middle so he wouldn't have to try and wrestle his brother out of the bloodied garment.
"No," Dean breathed when he saw the amount of blood on Sam's narrow chest.
All Dean could do was pray that the werewolf hadn't bitten his brother. Although a werewolf's claws were razor sharp they didn't have venom, unlike its dagger-like teeth.
John rummaged around in his duffle bag before pulling out a flask of holy water. He uncapped the bottle and held it over his son's abdomen.
The smell of blood in the room was cloying and both older Winchesters wrinkled their noses at the coppery tang.
"Better grab a washcloth, Dean," John suggested and Dean came back from the tiny bathroom with all four of the cloths provided and a couple of threadbare white towels.
John carefully poured the water over his youngest son's chest and belly while Dean mopped up the mess gently with a washcloth.
As the two worked, they could see red gashes criss-crossing Sam's chest. Dean grimaced at the cuts and was glad his younger brother was unconscious.
"Hold on Dad, there's another on his shoulder," Dean pulled his brother's shirt down to expose his left shoulder and gasped, "Oh my God."
Both John and Dean stared unbelievingly at the bite on Sam's shoulder. The wounds were deep and dark red with black bruising already surrounding them.
Quickly, John splashed holy water onto the marks and let out a groan when they sizzled and steamed.
Dean's heart had lodged in his throat so that he couldn't seem to catch a breath.
No, Dean thought frantically as he wiped holy water away from the injured shoulder; no, no way, this can't be happening!
"D-Dad?" Dean said in a small, scared voice and looked frightfully up at his father, waiting for a reaction.
"FUCK!" John shouted and threw the flask of holy water to the floor, "God damn it!"
John raised his hands to the sides of his head and gripped tufts of his black hair in his fists, his face turning red in anger.
"M-maybe the holy water'll fix it," Dean suggested hopefully and stood to retrieve the flask.
This couldn't be happening, not now, not tonight. This was Sam's first werewolf hunt and it wasn't supposed to end like this! Sam was only fourteen fucking years old for God's sake!
"You'll be alright, Sammy," Dean whispered, "You'll see. Dad n' me will fix you up good as new."
Through tear-filled eyes John looked at his sons.
"Dean, we have to… Son, Sammy's been bitten," He said in a broken voice, "You know what we have to do."
Dean froze in the act of wiping still-seeping blood from the cuts in his brother's chest and turned large eyes to his father.
Dean knew that they wouldn't have a choice. They were hunters and Sam had just been marked by one of the creatures they hunted. Dean watched as John pulled his gun from his jacket and took the safety off.
John closed his eyes when a soft moan escaped Sam's lips and his green eyes opened to slits.
"D'n?" He breathed and Dean grabbed his little brother's hand.
"Hey, Midget," Dean gave a watery smile.
"H-hurs' D'n," Sam whispered and his eyes widened.
"I know buddy," Dean said and gave his brother's hand a squeeze, "It'll go away in a minute."
Dean released his brother's hand and sat back, looking at their father.
John still had his gun pointed at his youngest son's chest but his hand trembled. Sam looked so tiny, so pale and vulnerable. He was in pain and had no idea what was going on. John simply couldn't imagine his little boy as a bloodthirsty werewolf but he knew that it didn't matter what he imagined because it was real, no matter what he thought.
He saw tears spilling silently down his oldest son's cheeks- John didn't think Dean even knew he was crying- and his hands clenched into fists.
"Dad?" Sam said in a small voice and that broke John. He lowered the weapon and set it aside.
John grabbed a First Aid Kit instead and moved to his boy's side. Dean was staring at him with wide, shocked, hopeful eyes.
John nodded that it was okay and Dean gave a choked sob of relief.
For the next hour the two eldest Winchesters worked to patch up their youngest. Dean and John didn't speak except to ask for this or that from the First Aid Kit.
Sam had passed out not long after waking up and that made all the stitching and bandaging go a whole lot faster.
Once Sam was comfortable and in no more immediate danger, John left his sons to finish cleaning up the mess in the forest… and do some serious thinking.
John drove slowly. He was in no hurry- the werewolf was dead and the people of Devils Lake were safe- but not his son… oh God, why did it have to be his son?
John's hands tightened on the Impala's steering wheel. He never should have taken Sam along on the hunt. This was his fault. He should have just taken Dean… Sam didn't have nearly enough experience with something as dangerous as a rabid, foaming werewolf.
John parked the Impala at the same spot as before and gathered the supplies he'd need from the trunk- a can of gasoline, salt, a couple books of matches and a shovel- before slamming the lid shut and marching off through the underbrush.
He should have been watching out for his son. Now Sam was paying the price for John's stupidity.
The older hunter didn't know what he was going to do. There was no way in Hell he could shoot his boy, even if he did become a werewolf. Sure, John would kill any monster out there but when that monster was his son…
He found the body of the late Principal Richards and spared a sad look at the unfortunate man, knowing it wasn't his fault he had become a monster. John sighed and set down his tools to begin searching for cordwood to build a pyre.
John prayed that Dean was right and that the holy water would purify the wound in Sam's shoulder, burn away the werewolf venom… but he knew he wouldn't be that lucky. They were too late. The werewolf poison was already flowing through his youngest son's veins.
He swept an area of the forest floor clear of debris and settled the dead man's body into a more dignified position. Next, John carefully surrounded the corpse with branches and dry leaves until it was completely covered.
There has to be something, John thought, some sort of cure out there for Sam. He determined to find a way to make his son human again, to make up for his mistake. John would research and talk to anyone who might have an idea about werewolves. Surely, they'd been around long enough someone would have created a cure.
John threw great handfuls of salt onto the construction of branches and leaves. Once he was satisfied, he uncapped the can of gasoline and doused the pyre with the flammable liquid, watching the salt crystals melt in the gasoline.
They'd take precautions, make sure Sam's life remained as normal as possible. He could still go to school and even hunt with them. No one would have to know the truth about him. John and Dean would be careful around other hunters. John already trusted very few in the hunting community and he knew that when it came to his brother's safety, Dean was more protective than a mother Grizzly bear with her cub.
John took a book of matches from his pocket and flicked the tip of one against the striking surface. He peered into the tiny flame for a moment- blue surrounded by orange- and thought about how he'd almost been prepared to shoot his own son, how he might have been doing this for Sam right now.
John tossed the match onto the pyre and watched as the gasoline and dry wood caught fire quickly.
Never again would John even think about killing his son. There was still a chance… there was always a chance and he would make things right again.
John didn't notice the tears that were leaking down his face as the fire consumed the pyre. When Sam was feeling better they'd go to Bobby's and stay there for while. John thought that there had to be something in the older hunter's extensive collection that could help Sammy and even if there wasn't, well, Bobby had connections that John couldn't even dream of.
Once the flames had died down to embers, John turned them over a couple of times with the spade he had brought to make sure there was no evidence left behind.
He walked a little faster back to the Impala, eager to tell Dean his decision and get out of Devils Lake.
Don't worry, Sammy, John sent the thought out to his youngest son as though the boy would be able to hear it, I'll fix this. I'll make everything better.
1. Edited by BerserkerHellHound.
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