That gives us hope when the whole day’s done
Genre: Gen, hurt!Sam, hurt!Dean
Length: About 600 words
Characters: Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester
Synopsis: Written for the November 2017 Oh Sam Comment Meme for the following two prompts:
1. Dean finds and follows a blood trail left in the snow/sand/forest, and finds a pale and bleeding-out Sam at the end of it.
2. Sam + a car crash = freaking out Dean!
. . .
The first thing Dean thinks when he wakes up is fuck, it's cold. The second thing is everything hurts. And then it hits him, the memory of the truck slamming into this piece of shit car he stole, the stomach-churning feeling of spinning helpless and uncontrolled over the icy road and tipping over into the ditch, and then (and he'll never forgive himself for taking so long to get to that point) he thinks Sam.
"Sam?" His voice is small, and weak, and that's probably why Sam isn't answering. He probably can't hear him. Maybe he's not even in the car - maybe he got himself out and walked back up to the road for help. Maybe he's on the phone right now. That would be the best case scenario, right? And maybe, just this once, Dean's gonna get the best case scenario.
All he has to do is turn his head. It's slow, cause it fucking hurts, but finally he does it and oh, God, he's not getting the best case scenario.
Sam is crumpled against the shattered side window, eyes closed, blood dripping from wounds on his head and neck and arm and leg, so much blood, trickling from his slightly open mouth, from his ear, fuck, so much blood and he's not moving and it turns out adrenaline is an awesome pain reliever because suddenly Dean's in motion, halfway over the center console, grabbing for Sam's wrist, his blood-streaked throat, pushing his matted hair back, shaking his shoulder, shouting (not crying, not crying) "Sam? Sammy? Sam!"
Sam hisses in pain (and dear God, it's the sweetest sound Dean's ever heard) and opens one eye, the one that's not caked shut with blood. "Jesus," he moans. "Dean? You okay?"
"I'm great," Dean says, which is a lie, because now that he's coming down off that adrenaline rush, he can tell something is off. "Think my leg might be busted. But other than that, I'm awesome."
Sam turns toward him, and now that he's not leaning against the door, Dean can see ragged metal shards of the doorframe. The broken edge of the glove compartment door, hanging open, hard and sharp. The jagged broken (bloody, Christ) edge of a tree limb jutting into the car through the broken rear window - another foot and it would have impaled him instead of just lacerating and no, no, gotta shut that down, can't think about that. Bottom line is, no wonder Sam's sliced all to hell.
Luckily, Dean's phone is still in his pocket, apparently undamaged. And that's where his luck runs out, because he has no service. Of course. He waves the useless phone at Sam. "Looks like we're on our own."
Sam sighs. "Okay. Okay." Except nothing is okay.
Dean can't stand, but everything from the knees up is okay, so he gets on his knees (it hurts like hell but he's a man, he can take it) and paws in the back seat until he finds his duffel. He pulls out a t-shirt and tries to wipe some of the gore off Sam's face. Not that it's gonna help but Jesus, he just can't. He can't look at it.
Sam hisses again and weakly bats his hand away. "I'm fine."
“You're bleeding everywhere."
“I'm fine. We're gonna need that for warmth, not to clean me up." Sam shifts again, groaning. "You think you can reach a jacket?"
He's right, it's freaking cold. Dean goes back and digs around with the one arm that can reach into the back seat. His fingers brush against something that feels like a jacket, but he can't pull it free. "Think it's stuck on that fucking tree," he mutters. Back to the duffel, where he finds a flannel shirt. He hands it to Sam, who shakes his head.
“No, man, for you."
"C'mon, dude. You're the one by the broken windows. I'm fine."
“I'm going to be walking. That will keep me warm."
“Walking? Hell no." Sam's not walking anywhere. Sam's a bloody mess. "You need to sit right here and wait for the cavalry to show up."
"Can't." Sam's moving slowly, obviously in pain, teeth clenched, beads of sweat on his (bloody) forehead, but he's moving. Making sure his phone is in his pocket. "We're in a tiny white car at the bottom of a snowy hill. No one's going to find us. Not until after we freeze to death. Don't worry, I'm not going far. Just up to the road, so I can get a landmark and a phone signal."
“Jesus, Sam. Don't do this. You're too messed up. Maybe the guy in the truck called for help."
Sam takes a deep and pushes against his door. Somehow, against all odds, it opens. "I'm not counting on maybe," he says. "I'm not gonna let you freeze to death because some idiot might have done the right thing." Slowly he pivots, sliding his legs outside the car (and there's even more blood on the back of his head, matted into his hair and soaking into the back of his hoodie and it's not right, it can't be right), and finally, with a pained groan, standing. "See?" he says. "I got it."
But as Sam pulls himself upright, Dean notices all the blood pooled in his seat and there's too much, it can't be right, it can't, and then, in slow motion, Sam's eyes roll back in his head and he collapses into the snow.
Fuck. Fuck. Dean throws his door open and tries to leap out of the car, but when he puts his weight on his left leg, suddenly the world goes white.
When he wakes up again, his door is closed, the flannel shirt is tucked neatly around him, and Sam is gone.
Dean opens the car again, gently, and slides out. He manages to do it without putting weight on his broken left leg but Jesus, it still hurts. He pulls himself almost upright, then keeps a hand on the broken little car, using it as a crutch as he makes his way around to the other side. Sam's not there, of course. Just bloodstained snow, and a trail of blood and shuffling footprints leading up the hill to the road. And a broken branch that seems like the right height and thickness for a crutch. Okay then. Dean knows a lucky break when he gets one.
Sam's trail is easy to follow. Dean is an expert tracker, but anyone could follow these footprints up the hill, the drips of blood alongside them, the distance between them getting shorter and shorter. The places where he fell to his knees, leaving larger bloodstains. The spot where he clearly gave up on walking and started crawling up on his hands and knees. The even larger bloodstains where he stopped for a longer time, probably to rest. And because Dean's such a damn good tracker, he recognizes the spot where Sam laid his forehead in the snow, on his hands and knees, and then pushed himself forward again, because no one is as stubborn as Dean's little brother. And if Dean has to stop and puke for a minute once he figures that out, once he visualizes it, well, it is what it is.
(None of the blood is fresh. He's not going to think about that. He's not going to think about how long he was unconscious in the car, how long Sam was alone out here. He's not.)
When he finally makes it up to the road, he knows what he'll see, or what he won't see. No truck. No Sam, standing tall, holding his phone. Dean looks back down at the slope and realizes Sam was right; no one's gonna see that little white car down there. And that's the only possible explanation for why Sam's hoodie is in the middle of the road, weighed down with a rock. Because there wasn't a landmark, and he made his own. And now he's out somewhere in the cold and the snow wearing only his t-shirt and why? What the hell, Sam? But he pulls out his phone and then he understands. There's no service here, either. Sam marked his spot and then... yep, his blood-spattered footprints head back the way they came.
Okay then. Dean follows.
Sam's footprints are fairly steady at first, but after half a mile, they start meandering. Dean recognizes this as the pattern of someone who is weakened, wounded, or confused. If he were being completely objective, he'd expect to find the person he was tracking pretty soon, curled up in a lifeless little heap. Especially given the increasing amount of blood. If the road weren't so twisty and hilly, he'd be able to look up and see his hapless target. But instead, he finds the spot where Sam collapsed in a little heap, and then pulled himself back up and kept going. The places where he fell to his hands and knees again and kept fucking going like that. The puddle of blood where he rested for a while (or fell and couldn't get up). The scuff marks in the snow where he did, finally get up. The heavier, fresher blood trail alongside them. Dean's getting close.
(The sun is going down. Dean's teeth are chattering. Sam's out here in only a t-shirt and jeans. Dean's not going to think about that. He's not.)
Then he crests a hill and he sees him, sprawled in the road about 50 yards away. Dean moves as fast as a man can hop with a a busted leg and makeshift tree branch crutch, and finally he's sinking into the snow next to his brother, and his leg screams in pain but he doesn't care, he can't care. Sam's face is almost as pale as the snow he's lying in, his lips are blue, his hair is dusted with snowflakes. Not until Dean pulls him into his arms does he see the spreading pool of blood beneath him. Christ, so much blood.
But if he's still bleeding, he's alive.
Dean pulls off his coat and wraps it around Sam. When he hears a sharp clatter he thinks it's his teeth, but it's Sam's phone falling out of his hand and hitting the pavement. Dean squints at it in confusion. The screen is lit. And someone's talking. He holds it up to his ear.
Sir? Are you still there? Can you hear me? The emergency crew should be there soon.
"Good," he says, his voice raspy. "We're here. We're... a couple of miles east of the location he gave you. Please hurry."
The voice on the other end is still trying to talk to him, but Dean doesn't really care. He puts the phone down and wraps himself around his brother, wishing he could share his blood as well as his warmth. "You did it, Sammy," he says. "Don't leave me now, man. Hang in there." And okay, maybe this time he is crying. He'll let Sam tease him about it later. Just this once.
. . .
Now with a little epilogue!
The title is from Invisible Sun by the Police.