Rating: R - Gen - hurt!dean - h/c
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
The woods sure made a lot of really strange sounds at night.
Sam put another split log onto the fire and settled back into the surprisingly comfortable chair he had found. It was big enough for even his substantial frame to feel lost and tucked into its cracked leather. It was sturdy and heavy enough that it took more than a causal effort to drag it up to the old stone fireplace that dominated almost half the back wall of the place.
It got more than cold up in these mountains after dusk. Even in summer it got to be where you could see your breath by the lantern light. Whomever had built this lodge had known that, the hearth was well made, shaped to heat and not to decorate. A stack of nice and dry wood as high and wide as the cabin had been out back. Along with a hand pump well and an aluminum bucket.
He had had to refill that bucket three times, using all the gauze in the medical cabinet to wash away all the blood on his brother.
Somehow Dean slept through it all, even when Sam patiently and meticulously worked on his hands with the cloth. His hands had been the worst. Dean's thick silver ring had slipped off as he worked and Sam carefully pocketed it, wondering for the very first time where it had even come from. It was weird, the times you noticed and thought about things you should have seen and wondered everyday. When Dean was clean, he turned and worked on himself. His own stained shirt removed and replaced by something in his bag from the car. The skin underneath blotched and darkened as if he had been shot just the same. His own palms flaked with red brown. His boots and jeans specked with it.
The room was lit with the flickering orange crackle of the fire. The hiss and pop of the kindling was the only sound.
It made him think of every poem he'd read about the man that stares into the flames to find things there. Wisdom. Silence. Simple observation of the process of the life and death that starts off within the most base of elements. The need for them when we are stripped bare of all modern contrivances, and the reversion to becoming the people that used to know and worship those elements openly for what they were.
He felt himself smile at coming full circle as to what exactly had brought them up into this forest in the first place.
With one hand he checked the blankets he had laid down right at the base of the simmering wave of embers. Satisfied that they were almost about to burst into flames, he took them up and moved towards the bed he had pulled away from its corner and almost next to him.
Just stepping a few feet away from the face of the fire he could feel the night's chill quickly wrap around him. With the hot glow of the fire at his back, he felt the frigid cling to the air embrace him instead.
He touched the blankets that were over his brother's body and decided they had faded with everything but Dean's own scant body heat. Trying to do it quickly, he stripped the cooled covers off and swiftly replaced them with ones he had placed by the fire. Dean stirred when the blankets were pulled up and away, groaning a little at being disturbed in his hazy drugged sleep.
It was easier when Dean wasn't looking at him to place his hand on his brother's forehead. For some reason, even with all that had happened in the past few hours, it didn't occur to him until just after his hand settled there that they didn't touch very often. It seemed strange but he thought that maybe it was just simply the province of men. It was the women that taught you to reach. To hold. To soothe. He thought of how immediately easy that had seemed with Jess even though he had never really been taught how.
Dean's skin was warm to the touch, slightly clammy and damp. His breathing was even and regular however, and with a quick look, Sam saw his bandage hadn't even soaked through. It would be safe to move him soon without reopening his bullet wound. With a half smile, Sam considered that maybe touch wasn't a gift for women but just a gift for anyone willing to use it.
In a few hours it would be light and they'd make their way down the maze of country dirt roads and down back into the valley below. With luck, Dean would be under a stethoscope before the clock even saw noon.
It was funny in way. He had grown up not really believing in a thing like luck but he always seemed to look for it anyway. Another part of human nature maybe.
Sam stood up and stretched, catching sight of Dean's leather jacket he had removed earlier and left crumpled in the corner. His brother would never let him hear the freaking end of it if he somehow left it behind. Stained as it was it could always be cleaned up just like anything else.
He scooped it up, wondering if he should use what was left of the bucket of water to maybe--
With a jerk as it slipped, a small metal plaque fell from out its inner pocket and clattered with a thud onto the wooden planks of the floor.
The seal from the well.
Sam broke into a tired grin at the sight of it.
Maybe the nature of chance had nothing to do with chance at all.