A/N: Oh my God. What am I doing? Contrary to everything I stand for as a writer, this fic is currently incomplete. And yet here I am, posting to fanfiction. This is either going to go really well, or I'm going to learn an incredibly tough lesson in disappointment. Whatever. What's the point of having an account if I never use it. Two stories? Really?

So, here we have the Prologue of 'Into the Wild'. If it generates some interest, I'm hoping that'll motivate me to get it finished. As it stands, I have about 12 and a half/13 chapters complete. We'll see how it goes. I'm looking forward to seeing how this experiment unfolds! ...I think. Anyway, enjoy!

WARNINGS: Might become slightly AU later, as I may bring in Bobby Singer and/or John Winchester earlier than we see them in the show. So any JW haters or those anal about canon, get out. Also, haven't edited NEARLY as much as I normally do so I'm paranoid errors are jumping out of this fic like fleas. Beware. And if you see any, PLEASE let me know.

SPOILERS: No real spoilers, but set in Season One before 'Home' and back when the boys were still getting coordinates from John.

DISCLAIMER: HAHAHAHAHA.


Into the Wild

PROLOGUE

Beep...Beep...Beep...

Sam ran with the gurney as it was rushed through the corridor and towards the operating theatre. He could hear murmurs carrying words like 'surgery' and 'critical condition' and 'unstable' floating around him. More nurses and doctors swarmed him, trying to jostle him from his place at Dean's side but the younger Winchester refused to relinquish his grip on his older brother's cold hand.

Beep...Beep...Beep...

Focusing so hard he could hear the blood pounding in his ears and calling on all his reserves, including his psychic 'whatever' (as Dean so often referred to it), Sam tried diligently to transfer some of his own strength to his dying brother; it was a pipe dream, but he had to try. The monitor attached to the metal frame was blaring wildly, declaring nose-diving vitals.

Beep...Beep...Beep...

An attractive female doctor straddled Dean's bloodied torso, rhythmically squeezing an Ambu bag, trying to force Dean's shredded lungs to breathe. Sam kept up a mantra inside his head, his lips muttering nonsensical words and phrases, noiselessly praying for the older hunter's survival. C'mon, Dean. C'mon, man. Please. You can't do this to me, you can't, you can't, youcan'tyoucan'tyoucan'tyoucan't...

Beep...Beep...Beep...

"Sir, we are doing everything we can. Please step away from your brother. Sir? Sir? Sir..." Voices buzzed in Sam's ears but he couldn't respond, couldn't do anything except watch his brother die. There's so much blood! It was everywhere, coating Dean, coating Sam, smeared on the metal frame of the gurney and staining the sheets. It was on the trauma team, on their hands, in their hair. Dean's blood...

Beep...Beep...Beep...

"You cannot go in there! Somebody call security!" And then there were hands, pulling Sam's entire 6'4" frame away. He struggled, yelling for his brother, yelling for him to live, to survive...He felt himself being pushed down into a chair, a paper bag being placed over his mouth and nose and being instructed to breathe into it. But he couldn't breathe, he couldn't, because Dean was dying, maybe already dead RIGHT NOW and please, I have to help him, save him...He could still hear the machines, ringing in his ears.

Beep...Beep...Beep...

Someone's calling for a sedative but all Sam can feel is the white noise surrounding him and, please God, he needs his brother. He's lost Jess and he can't lose Dean too. He won't, he just won't.

Suddenly, there's a prick in his arm and he's falling, sliding to the ground with all the grace of a newborn giraffe. He can't move or speak and he's tired, so tired...But he needs Dean but not now, he'll have to wait, have to, until he's slept for just a little while.

And as the younger hunter's eyes slip closed, the last thing he spies is Dean's amulet, curled up in his fist, the brown string and gold brass drenched in tacky, crimson blood...

Beep...Beep...Beep...

XXXXXX

48 HOURS EARLIER

"Sam, for the last time, Dad has sent us these coordinates for a reason!"

"Dean, I'm telling you, I've checked local news reports and there is nothing to indicate that anything supernatural is going on here!"

"Dad wouldn't be wrong about something like this, Sam," Dean protested. "So what if there are no supernatural signs? How many times have we hunted something that doesn't leave a trace? You wanna wait for more people to die, is that it?"

"No! No, of course not. But, Dean, there is usually something. No matter how tiny or insignificant it is to a civilian, we can usually find it. This time...nothing. I just don't think these attacks are our problem!" Sam was trying to calmly reason with his brother but he found his frustration mounting.

They had been arguing like this for days. It had started small; innocent brotherly quarrels over ridiculous things like who got to use the bathroom first and what they had for dinner. From there, the arguments had grown, morphing into huge rows about more personal things like Sam's nightmares and the way Dean hero-worshipped their father. Both were ashamed to admit that punches had been thrown not three nights ago over something so stupid and trivial that neither could remember what they'd been so mad about in the first place.

Two days of angry silence ensued following that fight, but it had ended abruptly after a single father and his twin daughters had been killed on a camping trip. Guilt had flooded both the Winchesters; if they hadn't been so preoccupied with their own emotions, they could have figured out what they were dealing with and prevented the deaths of the family.

"We'll just have to keep digging then, man," the older hunter decided, his tone forceful. "Tell me what we know so far."

Sam turned away from his older brother and sat down heavily on his bed, surveying the scattered newspaper reports around him. He shut his eyes and took a calming breath, knowing that arguing was futile. Whether what they were hunting was supernatural or not, it was still killing people and needed to be dealt with.

"We know that it's not a black dog or werewolf. Lunar cycle is wrong and there are none of the usual signs for either of them. Saying that, the attacks are primitive, animalistic," the younger Winchester stated, careful to keep his tone neutral.

"Alright, so that rules out those. I don't know about you, man, but it sounds like a wendigo to me," Dean replied, rooting in his duffle bag for any leftover flares from their last wendigo hunt.

"Dude, c'mon. What are the odds of hunting two wendigoes in six months? Besides, it's not dragging its victims back to some secluded cave or whatever. It's just eating them then and there," Sam reasoned. His gut was telling him that this wasn't anything out of the ordinary. The sleepy, idyllic town they were currently in bordered a massive forest and grizzlies weren't an uncommon sight.

"Well, then maybe it's a homeless wendigo. I don't know and I don't really care, but what we are gonna do is waste it before it can hurt anymore people like that family!" Dean yelled, throwing down his duffle bag and turning to face Sam. The younger Winchester's chest ached at the mention of the family and he looked down at the news report of the family's death, the picture of the pretty twin daughters smiling up at him accusingly.

"Is that alright with you or do I have to handle this one on my own?" the older hunter asked, his furious gaze searching Sam's face.

"No! Don't be a jerk, Dean! I'm just saying it doesn't feel like one of ours, that's all," Sam replied, annoyed at how quickly their arguments kept springing up. "I never said we shouldn't hunt it," he continued, voice softer.

Dean clenched his jaw, trying to rein in his irritation. He blew out a breath and felt some of his frustration recede. Only marginally relaxed, he piped up.

"Okay. Well, I need more flares anyway if this is a wendigo. There was a camping store a couple of blocks back; I'm gonna go take a look. You need anything?" the older Winchester asked, his tone apologetic.

Sam looked up and read Dean's eyes. He got it. They were both tired and upset, what with Sam dealing with Jessica's death and Dad being missing. Those years at Stanford had come between them and it was times like now when Sam could really see how much they both had changed.

"No, I'm good. Thanks," Sam replied and Dean just nodded once before turning on his heel and leaving the suddenly too small motel room.

XXXXXX


A/N: So yeah, um. There it is. Next chapter will be...next week? I dunno. Playing it by ear. Should probably point out that halfway through that 'dramatic' opening portion of the fic, the sudden shift into the present continuous tense was intentional. I'm not barely literate, it just served a purpose. As always, let me know if you spot a mistake of any kind; I'd be most appreciative. Hope you enjoyed!

Ad Astra.