A/N 1: It's been awhile since I've posted a new story. However, some of us over at the Winchester House took part in a fanfiction exchange and I eagerly signed up hoping to get some motivation to get a story done quickly. However, as it often does, life has other plans. This was supposed to be done end of May and well here we are in August. This story is for Jess who wanted a fic that contained a hunt in the woods involving snow. This story takes place in S8 right after the events in The Great Escapist. However, they never found Cas in the road.
A/N 2: Sorry I have not replied to reviews in such a LONG time. I have been going through some things again and it hasn't been easy. I just lost my 14 year old cat and have been trying to cope with it as best as I can. I thank each and every one of you that read, review, follow, and favorite my stories, as well as send kind pms. I appreciate it.
It should have been an easy hunt. Find a Wendigo and kill it. Except nothing was ever easy anymore for Sam and Dean Winchester. Nothing.
They were barely out of Colorado, the leftover effects of Metatron still ringing in Sam's ears when Garth called. Apparently there was a Wendigo terrorizing some woods nearby. He had already sent in four hunters and none of them had reported back.
Amateurs, Dean thought automatically.
Garth said he never would have even thought of bothering them with a case or calling them at all because he knew they were "crazy" busy with the trials but he knew they were in the area and they were his last hope. He didn't have anyone else. Dean hadn't given Garth a straight answer before hanging up the phone.
"No," Dean shook his head adamantly as Sam gave him a look. "Don't even start," Dean finished, turning his face away.
He had just practically found the kid unconscious—no practically dead—on the floor of their hotel room, body so ravaged by a 107 degree fever that he thought for sure that he was too late. There was no way he would even remotely consider going on a hunt with Sam in his condition. He couldn't even think about the fear that coursed through his body when Sam called and he answered to no one on the other end. He didn't even want to remember the ten ton weight he felt on his chest as he frantically yelled "Sammy!" into the phone but got no response. Instinctively he knew Sam was in dire straits when he got no answer and he had floored it back to the hotel, dashing in the door to find Sam sprawled on the floor, phone still next to his ear. For a second, time had froze and he just stood there looking at Sam, or what he thought was the dead body of his brother. Then mercifully he heard Sam moan out the unmistakable word "Dean" before going completely unconscious again. He could tell Sam was burning with fever, the heat emanating so strongly from his body that even pressing his hand to Sam's forehead felt like it would singe his hand.
He had rushed around like crazy, filling the bath as fast as possible mumbling reassurances that he didn't believe himself as he ran for the ice too. While he waited for the ice bath to be ready, he soaked towels in the cold water to cool Sam down. Sam hadn't stirred at all which had Dean questioning if he should get Sam in the car and take him to the nearest ER or possibly even call 911. Finally once the bath was ready, he dragged Sam who was dead weight over to the tub and unceremoniously tossed Sam in. He felt bad at the rough treatment of his brother but Sam was in no condition to help himself. He anxiously bit his nails with Sam under the water waiting for him to surface. He was just about to pull Sam out, when he popped up with a gasp. Dean felt himself release a breath in that moment too.
"Dean," Sam said, interrupting his thoughts.
It was the eyes again, boring into him. Eyes that held the weight of the world yet still enough room to carry guilt over anyone left behind.
Damn it! Dean thought. Sometimes he hated having a brother with a bleeding heart that he wore right on his sleeve. Yet he loved him more than anything for it too.
"Sam, we can't," Dean protested. "You're in no condition right now."
"Well I'm sure those hunters aren't in any condition either," Sam said, reasonably.
Damn him for having such witty comebacks too, Dean thought with a mixture of chagrin and self satisfaction because he knew the kid had learned it from him.
After arguing back and forth with Dean doing most of the arguing since Sam was really too weak to refute much of it, Dean had reluctantly agreed to go find the Wendigo. Sam might have been weak but he could still wear him down though which is why Dean agreed to the hunt. However, he was never going to agree to Sam coming along. However, he conveniently left that part out, waiting until they were at their destination.
Sam dutifully used his phone to search up stories about missing hikers while he still had service. Then Dean revealed the conditions of the hunt. The strict rule was that Sam was not to leave the car. The deal was that Sam would sit in the Impala with a warm blanket tucked around him and the heat cranked up. Sam had refused at first, well practically stamped his foot like a stubborn mule over the prospect of leaving his brother alone out in the woods.
"Sam, you'll only slow me down," Dean told Sam bluntly.
Sam looked at him with a mix of sadness and realization that it was true. Deep down he knew he was becoming more of a liability than anything else. Dean had given Sam the instructions that if he didn't return in at least two hours, he was to call the Ranger's station that they were parked close to and then Garth if he even had any reinforcements left at all that is. Sam reluctantly agreed, claiming he was feeling much better since they were out of Metatron's direct vicinity but Dean was not to be swayed. Sam was staying put and that was that.
Dean checked the coordinates that Garth had sent him and used the information that Sam had obtained to glean where he should be looking. He made his way up a rocky gravel path. It was all uphill and he couldn't help but feel that the higher he climbed, the colder it was. He pulled his flimsy jacket tighter around him, when he felt something wet tickle his face.
"You've got to be kidding me," he said aloud. It was snowing. It might have been the end of April, practically May, but thick wet flakes were beginning to fall. He sloshed through puddles of melted snow due to the back and forth weather of Colorado, undecided if it was spring or still winter. Some of the puddles were so deep, his feet and ankles froze. He slid over icy pathways, the snow starting to accumulate slightly, the further he climbed. He came across a small stream and carefully navigated over some rocks, unsure of its depth. He hoped Sam was okay back in the car. He felt bad that he had told Sam a tiny white lie about the ranger station. He knew the thing was abandoned but he couldn't risk Sam coming with him.
Then he smelled it, a slight tang in the air, that was unmistakably blood. He knew he was getting close, as he saw the remnants of the camp. It looked to him like they had been surprised by a sneak attack. He couldn't say he felt a lot of sympathy for the men since they'd been so stupid. However, the hunting pool was getting smaller these days. It's not like they could put an ad online: "Hunters Wanted. Chance of Death 99%."
Dean suspected maybe the Wendigo had used its powers to deceive and imitated the voices of the other hunters to separate them and trap them. It was a typical rookie mistake.
"Help!" He heard it faintly in the distance as he examined a tree branch and it snapped him out of his reverie. He instantly grabbed his flame thrower, prepared for anything. He knew it could be an actual hunter in distress or a trap. He wasn't trying to make the same mistake the other hunters had most likely made.
Dean followed the sound with trepidation and caution. Then he spotted the glint of some ice on what looked like a cavern.
Must be his lair, he deduced. He made his way over to it, looking in all directions since he knew the Wendigo was most likely close by. He peered in and all he saw was what could only be referred to as "leftovers." There were some clothes strewn about, blood, and bones. He didn't see any sign of anyone living. He was turning around to inspect the area for any survivors, anyone that could be hiding nearby, when he felt something smash and tear into him, knocking him to the ground.
Damn, he couldn't believe the thing had gotten the drop on him.
Sam must be wearing off on me, Dean mused. He actually thought there might be someone living in need of help. He'd let his guard down.
He slowly made his way to his feet, checking for injuries. He saw his sleeve had been tattered and along with it his arm. Slash marks made their way from his shoulder to his forearm. He wasn't standing very long when he was hit again. As he fell to the ground, he only wished Sam had gotten nervous and was trying to call in reinforcements. A part of him wished Sam wasn't so sick and was with him right now. He needed backup and he needed it now.
Sam sat in the car, anxiously biting his lip. His head pounded loudly as a result of the fever he was still running. He felt a cough about to hit and he did his best to stifle it so it wouldn't jar his painful head and chest. However it was no use as the cough erupted from his lips. He coughed long and hard, blood spraying from his lips and splattering the dash.
He used his sleeve to clean it off once he could catch his breath. He didn't want Dean to be pissed at him for damaging "his baby." He shivered slightly as he saw flakes suddenly striking the windshield.
"Dean where are you?" He asked audibly.
He knew it hadn't been long but he was worried. He wasn't lying when he told Dean he was the best hunter around. He knew it, but Dean should not be alone out there on his own. He should be out there having Dean's back. Lately all he did was let Dean down. He didn't know why he even agreed to this stupid plan at all. Yes, he wanted to save those hunters but he didn't want to be left behind in the car while Dean had to go it alone. After all, the last time they hunted a Wendigo, Dean had ended up captured. If something happened to Dean, it would be no one's fault but his own. This was all his idea and he was the burden, unable to provide backup.
Gingerly, he stepped out of the car. He listened for any sound in the distance. Then he could have sworn he heard it.
He knew his mind might be playing tricks on him, and Wendigos could be deceptive as well, but he had a bad feeling and he wasn't taking any chances, not with his brother, not ever.
He followed the route Dean would have taken, a gravel path as the cold flakes hit his skin. For a moment it was soothing against the heat of his skin but the chill set in and contributed to the pounding in his head. Everything ached as he made the arduous climb. He felt as if the air got heavier making it hard for him to breathe as he went up in altitude. He wished Dean had left some peanut M&Ms behind this time so he could find him. He passed a small stream, having to navigate over rocks to make his way across. He nearly lost his footing a couple times due to his shaky legs. Luckily he made his way across and as he sloshed through deep puddles, he began to see footprints, unmistakably Dean's.
He let out a breathy "thank-you" to whoever was listening so he could now track and hopefully find his brother. He looked at his phone but as he suspected it was useless up here, no signal.
He paused for a moment to catch his breath, cursing himself that he couldn't go faster. He wheezed in and out, tasting coppery blood in the back of his throat.
Then he knew he was no longer tasting it but smelling it as well. There was a faint smell of blood in the air.
"Dean!" He yelled. His voice was hoarse, not even perceptible to someone a good distance away. He walked further, suddenly seeing droplets on the ground. Red droplets. He knew they were fresh, unlikely to be from the hunters who most likely had unfortunately met their demise. His stomach dropped painfully as air was sucked from his already abused lungs. The blood had to be from Dean. Was he too late?
He followed the droplets further, thankful that he wasn't being led to a larger pool of blood. Suddenly he sensed movement in the trees. He looked up to see a blur above him and he knew he probably had made himself a sitting duck because he didn't have the stealth of a Wendigo right now, probably not even that of a slug.
"Dean!" He called again, his voice a weak mewl. He didn't care if he was drawing the creature closer to him, better that way, than closer to Dean if he had somehow escaped and was hiding out injured.
Sam walked further along into a thick row of pine trees, covered in the fresh and older snow. Then he saw him.
It was Dean, painfully rising from the ground, getting up slowly. Then just ahead of him, Sam could see the blur of the Wendigo, ready to take charge at Dean from behind. Sam ran with all the strength his weak legs and diminished lung capacity could muster because he knew Dean was just getting his bearings and didn't see the creature looming behind him. He also didn't trust his own voice to get Dean's attention. He found a tree very close to the Wendigo where he could be right above it. He began climbing, finding purchase in the limbs, climbing halfway to the top, forgetting all about his limitations as his sole focus was on Dean. The Wendigo didn't notice him, his gaze fixed on the smell of his prey, Dean.
The tree was several feet behind Dean, but he hoped it would be enough. He was halfway to the top of the 50 foot tree when he gave the branches a firm shake as the creature snuck behind Dean.
"Hey!" Sam yelled as the grisly looking creature looked up at him as snow began to cover its body.
More snow began to fall on the creature with each shake of the branch and finally it got Dean's attention. Now covered in snow and slowed down, Dean saw it perfectly, turned around, ran up, and pulled out his flamethrower. However, now that the trees were being released from the coverage of white fluff, Sam could sense the branches were snapping and with the adrenaline rush gone now, he knew he was going to fall too.
As the creature went up in a ball of fire, Sam started falling, striking branches and snapping them as he fell. He yelped in pain, only hoping that the snow cover underneath would provide a soft landing surface. He saw white snow rising up faster to meet him and once he hit the ground, he blissfully knew no more.
Dean was just getting his wits about him when he could feel the creature practically breathing down his neck. He expected to feel claws rip into him, but instead he sensed the creature stop as he heard a weak voice call out. He thought for sure he must be dreaming because the voice sounded a heck of a lot like Sam and he doubted Sam would be anywhere in the vicinity, that he even had the volition to make it here, but yet he turned to see his little brother, precariously perched in a tree, shaking snow on the Wendigo, distracting him enough so he could finish the job. He was thinking of how badly he was going to tear into Sam for even being there at all when he saw the branches giving way. He watched in horror as Sam dropped out of sight. He ran over as fast as he could to the still form of his brother, who was lying on his side covered in tree debris, a mixture of cuts and scrapes dotting his face.
"Sam? Sam," he prodded.
He came to slowly, feeling a gentle shake on his shoulders.
It was Dean with a relieved expression on his face.
"Did you think I was crying out for help like a little bitch? Thought you were smarter than that? Didn't I tell you to stay put?" Dean was so relieved just to see Sam's eyes open and alert that he would yell at him later.
"Saved your ass didn't I?" Sam said, with a pained grin.
"How bad is the damage?" Dean asked becoming serious. "Can you get up?"
"I think so." He didn't think he was badly injured. The fall on his head had renewed the pounding from the fever. He also had an ache deep in his chest, like the wind had been knocked out of him. However, this was something he was getting used to.
Slowly he tried to rise, but then he gasped out in pain, nearly dropping to his knees.
"Sam? Sammy? What is it?"
Sam's face blanched of color and his hand instinctively flew up to his chest.
Dean looked down at Sam's chest and felt his knees tremble in fear. There was a large branch, at least four inches in length, slightly thick in diameter, protruding from the right side of Sam's chest. Apparently it had impaled him on the way down as he fell from the tree. Sam had been so covered in twigs in branches that Dean failed to notice that Sam wasn't just hurt, he was in imminent danger of death.