Word Count: ~6,600
Author's notes: All your prompts were so fantastic, lovely quickreaver that it was impossible to choose. Finally this story came to me and I hope you like it.
Summary: Sam runs into a hiker while he and Dean are staying at a closed for the season campground on the night of a lunar eclipse. It doesn't end well
Dusk is falling over the trail when Malcolm reaches the campsite he’s been heading for since morning. It’s just a lean to of split logs with a fire ring and a raised wooden platform for his sleeping bag but it beats the tree root riddled ground he’s spent the last few nights on. To make it even better, it’s just steps from a rocky ledge where he can sit and watch the sky tonight and hope that maybe this time will finally be the one he’s been waiting for. He’s about to shrug out from under the weight of his back pack and start a fire when a familiar tickle hits the back of his brain. Sighing, he readjusts the pack to make it more comfortable and sets off back on the trail. The voice in his head whispers not this time. Turn back, but he doesn’t listen. He rubs his temple as he continues on his way. Someone not far away has strayed far from the light and the Lord’s work is never done.
The moon is well over the horizon now, hanging so close in the sky that Sam feels like he can reach out and touch it. He’s been watching the bright glow ascend into the heavens since it first peeked over the trees. It’s a full moon, a blue moon and a super moon with one more bit of awesomeness up its sleeve for a little later. Dean’s supposed to be back by now, and Sam fidgets in annoyance, sprawled across a wooden bench on the porch of the lakeside cabin he and Dean are squatting in. Dean groused about staying out here, but Sam insisted because of precisely this situation. Just because his brother has no sense of priorities doesn’t mean Sam’s going to get stuck in some motel in the middle of a light polluted town on tonight of all nights. He and Dean don’t have much, but they have this. A life lived in the dark with the shared experience of watching the wonders of the universe unfold above them to make it a little more bearable.
Dean will be here, Sam’s sure of it. He has to be. There won’t be another moon like this for years and he’ll be- well, they’ll be- who knows where they could be by then? Sighing in frustration he leans down to open the cooler, rattling the ice as he pulls out a can of beer. He was going to wait for Dean, but since he’s going to be late he might as well go ahead and have one. He pulls the tab and regrets his timing as the pop/fizz of the can opening coincides perfectly with the arrival of a dark figure strolling out of the woods. Sam keeps the curse he wants to spit out behind his lips and freezes in place as the figure turns toward him.
“Hey,” a deep voice calls out. “Somebody there?”
Sam eases his gun out and lays it beside him on the bench. The night is bright but he’s barely visible in the shadows of the porch awning and he’s sure it wasn’t noticed. “You lost?”
“Nope,” the man says, holding his hands up. “And I’m not looking for any trouble, honest. I’m camping at a site a couple of miles back down the trail, but the trees are pretty thick there and I was looking for a place to catch the eclipse.” He waves an arm at the moon and Sam smiles a little at the excitement in his voice. “I mean, look at it, it’s practically right on top of us. Tonight’s going to be a real show. If, I mean, if that’s the kind of thing you’re into.”
Sam sighs as the glee drains out of the man’s voice. He’s had the same experience with Dean or his father so many times, going on in excitement about something only to have them shut him down. It’s why star gazing with Dean is so important. It’s something they can geek out over together. He blows out a breath as he ponders his options. He should send the guy on his way, back to his campsite and out of their hair. But this is the only good viewing spot for miles and Sam, with his gun at his side and a knife in a sheath at his waist can share the wealth as long as the stranger behaves. “Oh, I’m into it. My brother and I have been staying here at our dad’s cabin so we’d have this view and a nice dark sky. You’re welcome to hang out until the show is over.”
“Ah, man, thanks!” The man heads for the porch and Sam tenses just a little, but instead of climbing the steps he plops his backpack down as far from where Sam is as possible and hoists himself up to sit on the edge. “Afraid my snacks tend to run to the healthy,” he says after a brief rummage in his pack. “I’ve got dried apricots and a couple of apples. Any preference? I’m Malcolm, by the way.”
“Sam. And I’m good, thanks.” He does a brief rummage of his own in the cooler. “Hate to tell you but my beverages aren’t healthy at all. Beer?”
“Ha,” says Malcolm, “don’t mind if I do. Can’t overdo it, though. Still got to get back to my site after the show.” He reaches up and effortlessly catches the can Sam tosses to him and sets it down beside him. “Gonna let that settle a minute.”
“Probably a good Idea,” Sam says, keeping Malcolm in his peripheral vision as he looks out at the trail of light across the lake. There’s a tinge of brown shading the edge of the moon and he takes a swig of his beer, hoping that Dean’s not going to miss the whole thing.
“So where’s your brother at,” Malcolm asks, peering around at the darkened cabin. “He’s not going to see it if he doesn’t get out here.”
“He went into town this afternoon.” Sam’s not real comfortable divulging this but it’s obvious Dean isn’t in the immediate vicinity. “He’ll be back any minute.”
“Can’t see why he didn’t just stay here and wait with you,” Malcolm says. “You don’t get a combo like this every day.”
“He gets bored,” Sam replies and it’s not like it isn’t the absolute truth. “He’ll be here.”
“Hope so. Good to have someone to share things with. I spent my whole childhood watching eclipses with my Gran. She was more signs and portents than science, but we had some great times together. She actually taught me a lot. You team science or team superstition?”
“Ha,” Sam laughs. “I’m kind of team both.”
“As am I,” Malcolm says with an answering chuckle. “But you don’t see that combo often.”
Sam just shrugs. “Let’s just say I’ve had a wide variety of life experiences and leave it at that.”
They sit in silence for a while, watching the shadow slide across the moon in minute increments. Malcolm opens his beer and takes a long swallow, sighing when he comes up for a breath. “That’s good, thanks. It was a long, hot day on the trail and I wasn’t expecting anything but warm water to drink tonight.”
“More where that came from,” Sam says, but doesn’t grab another for himself. There’s absolutely no reason Malcolm should set his teeth on edge but he does, a little. He’s not the lightweight Dean accuses him of being when it comes to alcohol but there’s no chance he’s getting even slightly buzzed until Dean gets here, the eclipse ends and Malcolm takes himself back to his campsite. “Where are you hiking from?”
“Ah, I hike the trail every couple of years. Start in Georgia and make my way up to Maine. Takes a good long time but sometimes you’ve got to get out of Dodge for a while, you know?”
The phrasing puts Sam’s back up a little bit more. “Get out of Dodge?”
“Yeah.” Malcolm puts his fingers to his temples and rubs his forehead for a moment. “Probably the wrong term. I’ve got some family comes to town every couple of years and to avoid, um, unpleasantness I make myself scarce.”
Sam lets it slide. He’s got family unpleasantness of his own on the horizon and beating a hasty retreat is probably in his immediate future so he’s got no room to talk. He shifts in his seat and glares down the drive to where it disappears into the trees. The eclipse will be complete soon and his brother’s going to miss the whole thing.
“Hey.” Malcolm cuts into his reverie. “What’s the best place you’ve seen an eclipse from?”
Sam thinks back. It’s not like he’s seen a million and one sticks out in his mind. “Sioux Falls, South Dakota. My uncle owns a scrap yard outside of town. We were just kids then and it was winter. Dean and I wrapped ourselves in a bunch of old quilts, sat on the hood of an old junker and watched the moon get dimmer and dimmer.”
“My most memerable was in Mexico when I was twenty-five. A group of us went out to the ruins at Chichen Itza and sat on the steps of the temple while the moon rose. It’s a dead place, but that night-” He stops and turns his head to look at Sam. “My gran had a touch of the shine to her and she passed it on to me. You believe in things like that?”
Sam shrugs. “I’ve heard of stranger things that turned out to be true.”
“Really.” Malcolm rubs his head again. “Anyway, they used to do human sacrifice there. Threw people into a well that they couldn’t climb out of and watched them drown. The ones that did it were long gone but I could feel the evil there that night. Wasn’t the last time, either. You’d be surprised how much wrong there is out there in the world.” He picks up his beer and gulps it down before shaking his head and blowing out a breath. “Sorry about that. Not the kind of thing I usually spill to a stranger I’ve known a couple of hours.”
“It’s cool,” Sam says, and it is. He’s got a first class over sharer living right in his back pocket. “You okay?” Malcolm’s rubbing his head again and Sam’s pretty sure they’re down to their last few aspirin. “Getting a headache?”
“What? Oh.” Malcolm drops his hands to his lap then picks up his beer, shaking the almost empty can. “No. Well, maybe a little. You know that voice in your head that yells at you to not do something you know good and well you’re going to do?”
“I’m familiar with it.”
“Well, it’s been going at it for a while and it is kind of making me tense.” He looks up at the moon and grins. “Hey, how about another beer for the grand finale?”
“I guess that would depend on what that voice in your head is telling you to do.” Sam’s hand is on top of his gun and he makes no move to the beer cooler.
Malcolm seems not to notice Sam’s tone. “It seems to think I should have stayed at the site and make a night of it instead of coming all the way up here. That I’m going to be sorry later that I didn’t.” He gestures toward the sky where the moon has slipped fully into shadow. “But look at that! It’s, just…a revelation. It’s what I’ve been waiting for.”
Sam looks up at the moon, redder than he’s ever seen it. Like it’s been dipped in an ocean full of blood. “Wow. Man, there’s lots of reflected light in the atmosphere tonight. That’s wild. Here.” he reaches into the cooler and tosses Malcolm another beer.
“Thanks.” He catches the can and holds it in his hand without opening it. “But atmosphere’s the science explanation, Sam. Prophecy says the apocalypse will be heralded by a blood moon and evil will be set loose on the world before the Lord returns to cleanse it.”
Sam gazes out at the gentle waves on the lake and the peacefully swaying pine branches. “Doesn’t look like it’s going to happen tonight,” he says.
“No,” Malcolm sounds almost regretful. ‘Someday, though. But hey, tonight’s not a total loss.”
The beer can rockets from his hand before Sam can think what the hell and his twist out of the way is just a smidgeon too late. Stars explode across Sam’s vision and pain radiates out from where the metal cylinder connects. He grips the arm of the bench to keep from completely going down and reaches for the gun but in his maneuverings it spins from is grasp and then Malcolm is there.
“I feel like maybe you don’t know the secret inside you,” he says, gripping Sam by the shirtsleeve and dragging him from the porch. “And that’s a shame, but evil is evil even when it don’t know it, my gran used to say. And my shine always leads me straight to it.”
Sam’s brain is spinning, his vision doubled, but he summons every bit of training he’s had and stays upright. His knife is still sheathed at his waist and he’s about to make a move for it when Malcolm makes his first. Pain slashes across his side but he manages to stomp on Malcolm’s instep and shove him away even as he feels blood begin to trickle down his side. His own blade comes free and he holds it out as threateningly as he can as he sways and tries to figure out which of the two Malcolms he sees is real. They both head toward him and he swings out at random, praying he’s aiming at the right psychopath. He’s not and he overextends, stumbling a few steps to the left and assuming the most defensive posture he can while trying desperately not to fall over. There’s no way he’s making any quick moves but as he maneuvers cautiously around he sees Malcolm standing a few feet away, knife arm outstretched. He’s trembling and his eyes are wide and he’s muttering just loud enough for Sam to hear.
Yes, you told me, but why, yes, you told me, but why, yes, you told me, but why?.. He’s silent for a moment, staring with horrified eyes up at the bloody façade of the moon before returning his attention to Sam. You’re his favorite, he whispers, disbelief strong in his voice. Then, with a sigh, he collapses to the ground.
Dean’s running late, but it’s not his fault. Well, it is, but really, he couldn’t help it. A half dozen obnoxious college boys with thick wallets and thicker heads deciding to whoop it up on the wrong side of the tracks can’t just be up and walked out on. Dean Winchester is nothing if not the premier defender of low life pool halls across the land. He grins as his tongue probes the split skin of his upper lip and shifts behind the steering wheel as the wad of cash in one front pocket presses into the crease of his thigh. A glance up through the windshield shows he’s still got time. The moon hangs bright and low in the clear night sky, full and without a touch of shadow from the coming eclipse.
It’s not generally in him to keep his baby on a tight rein, but deer melt in and out of brush by the side of the road, tails practically glowing in the moonlight. The second time a small herd trots across the pavement just at the far reach of the headlights he slows to a crawl. He mentally curses Sam for choosing an out of the way campground, empty in the off season, for their base during the week that Dad will be gone but gets over it when he thinks of the view they’ll have later. At least there’s a cabin for them to crash in instead of a tent or the cramped quarters of the Impala. He’s slightly buzzed from the beers he had back at the bar and that’s another reason to not hurry. He’s only run into a cop out here once, but tonight’s not the night for a repeat performance. There’s a half full bottle of whiskey swaddled in the trunk and his cooler is at the camp with Sam, full to the brim with ice and cold brews. At least it was. Sam’s probably had a few in the hours since his brother’s been gone. With high school graduation a few weeks behind him, Sam’s been broody and extra insistent they catch this coming sky show together. The only thing he’d get in trouble for tonight is his gun, tucked tight into his waistband and loaded with home cast silver rounds. Werewolves aren’t anything he’s really run into since his dad offed one almost a decade ago, but he’s never stopped hoping for one of his very own to gank.
Dean brakes as he reaches the turnout to the campground, paved for the first half mile then a mess of ruts and potholes in hard packed earth. He takes one last glance toward the moon before he heads under the trees, cursing silently as he sees a quarter of it already dimmed by the eclipse. The Impala’s suspension groans as he eases her over the bumps, and he winces at the occasional scrape of her chassis as she bottoms out. There’s no hurrying now and the forest dwellers are bolder. A porcupine scurries across the road and up the trunk of the nearest pine tree. A pair of foxes trot alongside him for a spell, a chipmunk dangling from each set of grinning jaws. At this rate, the moon might be entirely covered by the time he gets there and Sam will be pissed. They can still sit on the porch, though, legs stretched out along the wooden boards, popping some cold ones and watching the shadow recede. Dean mentally prepares a few Lord of the Rings jokes that will hopefully make Sam smile. Or at least cringe in mock horror. Either will do, really.
“Shit!” he yells, slamming on the brakes unnecessarily as the biggest deer he’s ever seen strolls into the road fifteen feet in front of him. The Impala, already in a rut, lurches violently forward and then back and Dean can hear her cursing at him in the squeal of abused shock absorbers. It’s a buck, eighteen points at least on its antlers, and it pauses, smack dab in the middle of the dirt track, head up, perfect profile, like it’s posing for a postcard. Dean silently fumes as it seems content to spend the rest of the night there and resists the urge to lay on the horn, just in case the massive animal breaks toward his baby instead of away from her. A few more minutes pass with no change and Dean jerks the door open and gets out, careful to remain sheltered behind the solid metal.
“Hey,” he says sharply, waving his arm. “Shove off. I’ve got someplace to be and you probably do too, so get on with it.” The deer snorts and shifts position, turning to face Dean. Its eyes glow green in the headlights and though Dean knows it’s likely just a weird reflection of the light (thank you, Sam) it freaks him out anyway. “Beat it.” Louder now, and with a blast of the horn this time for good measure. The deer lowers its head and shakes it and Dean slides back into the car, slamming the door behind him. They stare at each other for a moment before the deer turns and exits the scene as casually as he’d entered it, loping into the woods along the road. Dean sits for another moment, hands clenched on the steering wheel and waits to see if any more are forthcoming. When none show he eases the Impala out of the rut she’s been languishing in and goes on his way. Just another mile and he’ll be home.
The cabin’s on the edge of a large clearing overlooking the lake, the weathered dock a half dozen yards away. Dean pulls out from the tree lined path and stops short before reaching the parking spot in front. The eclipse is complete, Earth’s shadow is completely covering the moon and Sam had told him it would be a blood moon, but damn. Instead of the usual rusty color of the umbra (thanks, Sam), the moon is like Carrie after the prom. If Dean squints hard enough the dark spots through the haze looks like pools of dripping blood. Everything below is tinged red/brown; the trees, the ground, the water. The porch light isn’t on in the cabin and Dean isn’t surprised. Not advertising their position was one of the first thing Dad ever drummed into their heads. Still, there’s a small pit in his stomach at the thought of Sam, sitting on the porch in the ichor drenched night, alone with the dark mood that has overtaken him lately. He swings the Impala around toward the cabin and stops short again at what the headlights reveal. Sam’s not on the porch and he’s not alone.
Dean’s out of the car in a split second, heading for his brother before he’s really had time to process the scene. Sam is standing, loose limbed and swaying slightly, staring down at a man sprawled in the dirt at his feet. Dean squats by the body, just to check and see if it’s as dead as it looks and when it’s confirmed, he moves toward Sam who takes a few steps back, exchanging the bright light of the Impala’s headlights for the grim, rust colored night.
“Sammy?” Dean moves forward cautiously. Sam shakes his head wildly, hair Dean’s been itching to trim for a month flying around his face. “You okay?”
“I don’t know what happened to him.” Sam spits out the words like machine gun rounds. His gaze never leaves the man on the ground and Dean forces his eyes off his brother long enough to see what Sam’s seeing. The body is a white male, mid forties from Dean’s best guess. It’s dressed in blue jeans and hiking boots with a checkered flannel shirt of indeterminate color in this light covering its chest. And it’s staring back at Sam with the same horrified fascination his brother is giving it.
“All right,” Dean lays a hand lightly on Sam’s arm and cups his chin, turning Sam’s head to check for wounds. When he inclines Sam’s face into the moonlight, his eyes glint momentarily red and Dean shudders before gently easing him back into the shadows. “So what was it?”
“Just a man, I think,” Sam says, voice barely audible. “He said. He said it’s a sign.”
“What is,” Dean asks, but just then his probing fingers come back wet and warm from under the left side of Sam’s jacket and his brother pitches unconscious into his arms before he can say another word. Dean grunts as his heart races in panic and he shifts Sam into a portable position. The kid’s shot up like a weed in the last six months but he still, thankfully, doesn’t have the weight to go with all that height yet. He eyes the dead man for a second before deciding he’s hopefully not going anywhere and hefts Sam into the cabin.
There’s a six inch gash along Sam’s side and Dean carefully peels layers of fabric away from it, sighing in relief as the shallow slice becomes clear. For the past few months Sam’s been working on adding some heft to his beanpole physique and the slight ripple of muscle he’s managed so far just might have saved him some serious damage. The bleeding’s slowed to a little more than a persistent seep so Dean holds off a bit on getting to work on it. His brother’s had far worse wounds than this and stayed awake to curse his father through the whole MASH unit repair and recovery. There’s no blood anywhere else, and his skin is warm but not hot. He’s pale but he’s lost some blood and he’s probably mildly shocky so Dean doesn’t worry too much more than he’s freaking out over everything already about that. He gives Sam’s head a more thorough going over than he had out by the Impala, fingers gently tracing Sam’s skull, occasionally carding a knot out of his brother’s hair. He finds the lump behind Sam’s left ear and his lip quirks down at Sam’s slight whimper as he examines it.
“Sorry, Sammy,” he murmurs, probing the tender area. “Good to know you’re still in there.” The generator out back, helpfully left full of gas, is humming away and Dean grabs a clean dish towel out of the cabinet and heads to the fridge to grab some ice. There is, of course, none to be found and Dean mutters a heartfelt son of a bitch when he realizes that he’s going to have to leave Sam to find the cooler. He packs some holy water soaked gauze out of the first aid kit into the wound on Sam’s side, places a hand on his brother’s forehead and whispers “I’ll be right back, Sammy, I swear.” All the openings are lined with salt and the cabin is well built and secure so Dean’s not too worried about anything sneaking in while he’s out.
The cooler’s on the porch. Dean sees it as soon as he flips on the porch light. Sam must have been waiting for him and Dean’s stomach aches at the thought. If he hadn’t been late, if he’d left those bozos at the bar, he’d have been here for Sam when whatever the hell happened had happened. The Impala’s still running, door open, headlights illuminating the surreal scene. Dean kills the engine and lights; the porch lamps cuts through the moon dimmed darkness, casting a bright semi-circle into the night. He takes a quick glance up before grabbing the cooler and lugging it inside. The knot in his stomach unclenches slightly when he sees the bright white of the full moon emerging. Enough weird shit is happening tonight without the moon staying eclipsed. He’s itching to take a look at the body, find the knife, but Sam comes first. Sam and Dad have been at each other like cats and dogs lately but it’s times like this that Dean misses his father the most. Someone to take some of the load off is damn helpful in this job.
Dean plops ice cubes into the flowered dish towel, gives it a few spins before knotting it then tilts Sam’s head and tucks it between the pillow and the lump on his brother’s noggin. Sam’s reaction is louder this time, if still unintelligible and his eyes slit open, though Dean can tell he’s not really seeing anything. “Keep it there,” Dean orders, and Sam mumbles something he can’t quite catch but gets the tone of perfectly. He eases the gauze out of Sam’s wound, tossing the bloody mess toward the wastebasket. A little more holy water splashed directly into the wound shows nothing. He applies silver and every other reactionary item in his kit and Sam’s body comes through one hundred percent human, outside of a few mumbles that are getting more coherent as time goes by. Dean’s tension evaporates a tiny bit more. Sam had said he thought the guy was human but you always always have to be sure.
After cleaning every last bit of debris out of the wound, Dean carefully pinches it closed and stretches butterfly bandages across it to hold it that way. It’s not optimal, but it will work and it beats shoving Sam and the corpse into the Impala and jolting his probably mildly concussed brother back to town. He plops a bottle of antibiotics down on the bedside table, outdated, but probably still good. He’ll have to wait for Sam to wake up to start them. Hopefully it will be soon. There’s sweat gathering at Sam’s hairline, fine droplets trickling down his face and Dean wets another dishtowel and wipes them away before draping the towel over Sam’s forehead. Sam’s eyes drop closed and Dean peels the lids back to get a better look. Both of his brother’s pupils contract normally when exposed to the light and another sigh of relief exits Dean’s throat. He sits for a moment, elbows propped on his knees, chin resting on his hands and stares at the steady rise and fall of Sam’s chest. Sam’s as tall as he is now, with a good few inches to go, and doesn’t that piss Dean off some. He’s eighteen, out of high school and about to join the family business for real but Dean will never stop worrying. He waits another few minutes, not wanting to leave Sam’s side, but he’s got a situation outside that it wouldn’t do to have anyone come across, as unlikely as that is. He and Sam are going, were going, to be out of here tomorrow. Just their Winchester luck some murderous weirdo would be the only one to stumble across them before then.
The body’s still where Dean left it, which is always a good sign in his book. He prods it with one foot, rolling it up enough to see the handle of a knife peeking out from under his back. The blade is flat against the ground, hasn’t so much as nicked him, and Dean eases it out before kicking it to the side. He squats to rummage in the man’s pockets and comes out with a wallet. The ID inside sports a picture of the corpse and the name Malcolm Sommers. There’s a credit card in the same name, sixty dollars in cash and a card with a cross emblazoned on it with Church of the End Times printed across the bottom.
“Great,” Dean says, pocketing the cash and shoving everything else back into the wallet before wiping it down and replacing it in the pocket. He’s never run across this particular sect before, but hardcore religious nuts show up where there are monsters from time to time. And they also show up where only they see creatures of the night. Apparently, some of them also hike and attack random people. All in all, they are a pain in the ass, and a dangerous one. He goes over the body carefully, running every test on it he had on Sam and with the same result. If there was anything unnatural riding this guy, it’s showing no sign. There are no wounds on the body. No bruises or burst capillaries in the eyeballs. It’s as if he attacked Sam and just dropped dead. “Even simple things can’t be freakin’ simple,” he mutters as he stands and surveys the scene. There’s a tarp in the trunk specifically for wrapping corpses in and Dean puts it to its purpose before replacing the whole thing in the trunk. He’ll find someplace to burn it tomorrow.
Sam sleeps through the rest of the night and well into the next morning. At least Dean thinks he does. Every time he woke up to check on Sam he was out like a light. Dean’s had a cup of coffee and two of the last four donuts in the box before Sam even begins to stir.
“Unngh,” Sam groans, raising himself up on his elbows. His hair is soaked, water dripping down his shoulders and trailing across his chest. He looks at Dean blearily. “Why is my hair wet?”
“Well,” Dean says, trying to look sorry that he forgot to change the ice pack, “you got clocked and I thought some ice would help with the swelling. I guess it melted a little.”
“A little,” Sam grouses, pulling the pillow out from behind him and flinging it weakly at his brother, letting out a soft grunt as the bandages on his side pull. “Clocked?”
“Don’t you remember?” Dean grabs a glass of water and plonks two aspirin and two ampicillin tablets into Sam’s palm and waits until he swallows them. Sam drains the rest of the water and Dean puts the glass on the bed table. He takes Sam’s head and parts the drenched hair until the lump is visible. It’s smaller now, just barely visible and Dean nods at his brother approvingly. “That rock hard head of yours comes in handy yet again.”
“Shut up, asshole,” Sam says, raising the middle finger of the hand that’s not propping him upright at his brother. He doesn’t quite look at Dean. “Everything’s a little blurry right now. Make yourself useful and get me a towel.”
“Yes, sir,” Dean sketches a mock salute and gets a bath towel that he heroically does not fling at his brother’s head but instead uses to gently wring the water from Sam’s saturated locks. “There,” he says when they’re mostly dry. “Fresh out of the beauty shop. You up to getting out of bed?”
Sam sits up slowly, pausing when he’s fully upright to take a few deep breaths. He swings his legs over the side of the bed and takes another moment to get his bearings. He grumbles when Dean grips his elbow but lets himself be half lifted to his feet. He shakes off Dean’s help as soon as he’s standing and begins to shuffle across the floor.
“Need a hand?”
“Think I can piss by myself, Dean.”
“Have at it, then.” Dean waves Sam on. When the door clicks shut behind him, he sets to making Sam a cup of coffee, sets the donut box on the placemat by the chair closest to the bathroom and settles down opposite to wait. The toilet flushes and water runs, longer than for Sam to just wash his hands. Dean gets up and grabs Sam a pair of clean boxers and a semi-clean t-shirt and jeans and opens the door just far enough to drop them on the toilet lid. “If you fall over pulling your drawers on, make sure to make some noise so I know to come in and pick your ass up.” Dean grins at Sam’s tooth brush muffled but clearly profane reply and leaves the door ajar as he heads back to his seat.
It takes a bit longer than normal, but eventually Sam comes out, walking a bit more steadily than before. He’s got his t-shirt hiked up and is picking at his bandages with his thumb. The area around the wound is purple/red with bruising and Dean needs to check it anyway so he bats Sam’s hand away and propels him to his chair. Once Sam is seated, grumbling but still holding his shirt up so Dean has a clear view, Dean efficiently checks the bandages, looking to see if any loosened overnight or during Sam’s cat bath. He probes the bruises, gritting his teeth at Sam’s hiss, but the skin isn’t overly hot and it’s dry so he leans back on his heels and gives his brother a nod. “I think you’ll live. Which was likely not the intention of the guy who stabbed you last night. What the hell, Sam?”
Sam puts his hand to his head and winces as he probes behind his ear. “Clocked,” he says quietly, then his eyes widen and he stands so suddenly he tips over his chair. He strides to the door and flings it open, leaving the cabin and leaning on the porch railing staring up at the sky. “It’s over.”
Dean’s right beside him, staring up at his brother with a worried gaze. “What’s over?”
“Well, yeah.” Dean guides Sam back to the bench against the front wall. “It’s daytime now. It’s been over for a while. I mean, there’s usually a time limit to those things, right?” Sam shakes his head uncertainly, hair flopping over his face and Dean lets out a small sigh. “Look, someone tried to kill you last night and died without a mark on him. Want to tell me what happened?”
“Where’d he go?” Sam stares at the ground where the body had lain.
“He’s in the trunk. We’ll find a spot to barbecue him later. Now spill. What happened?”
“He just. I mean, he just dropped dead.”
“I could see that. A little back story would be good here.”
“Uh, yeah, sorry.” Sam runs a hand through his hair and stares out at sunshine sparkling off the lake. “I was sitting here,” he pats the bench, “right in this spot, actually, when I heard something coming up the trail. Just leaves rustling, but there was no wind. I figured it was just a deer, there are plenty of those around. I had my gun, but I didn’t have it out, not yet.” He leans back and closes his eyes, losing himself in the story. Dean sits back too, keeping his eyes wide open and sweeping the area and sees the attack through Sam’s words.
“Jesus, Sam.” Dean’s been busy while Sam talks. He’s darted in and out of the cabin and it’s been straightened up to the best of his ability. The owners will probably know someone spent a few nights but no more than that. “You just sat there and chatted and drank beer through the whole eclipse and then he tried to skewer you?”
“After he started going on about the apocalypse and how I was evil and how he had the shine. Man, it was like a switch went off and all of a sudden he was nuts. Him and the voices in his head.” Sam stops short and stares at his hands. “And then he said ‘you’re his favorite’ and just fell over dead.”
“Damned if I know.”
Dean pauses, halfway down the steps with a duffle in each hand, taken by something in his brother’s tone. “You okay with this, Sammy? I mean, the guy kicked it right in front of you.”
“Not the first dead body I’ve seen.”
“Yeah, this is true. And you’re only normal, pain in the ass little brother evil, so there’s that.”
“Shut up,” Sam says and Dean grins.
“You ready to head out? There’s some spots deeper in the forest we can access from some of the side roads where we can burn the body.
“Yeah.” Sam gets up and takes a long look around before heading for the car. “In spite of everything, I’m sorry you missed the eclipse. It really was amazing.”
“If I’d been here, things would have turned out a lot different,” Dean says, giving Sam a guilty look. “I’m sorry I was late.”
“Worked out okay,” Sam says, punching Dean on the arm.
“I guess. Anyway there’ll be another one next year, right? Or the year after? I will not let you watch it with weird ass religious freaks next time, Sam. Just you and me.”