Hiya and Thanks You all for your lovely comments...
jared.is.fit - (love the name by the way) Poor Sam had a pretty close call in that pool, they've reached the side but they're a long way from home and the road is fraught with danger! I hope you stick around to keep them company on the long road back! Jane and Bev x
Aislinn, thank you for your lovely comments, we're delighted you are enjoying the story and appreciate the festive additions!! We are very honoured that you feel your nephews might enjoy sharing this, we'd love to hear what they think of it if you do!! Thanks for sticking with us. Jane and Bev x
Kyle, you're right, our own snow and freezing tempertures pale to insignificance when you think where those suffering Winchester boys are right now!! Lying wet and wounded at the frozen edge of the pool in a blizzard, it's definately time to get them somewhere warm and dry!! 'Fraid that there's plenty more snow and freezing temperatures to come before we can get them there though! The Twelve Saves of Christmas - Chapter 7
Lying wet and wounded on the freezing shore, as Cupid slowly lets them down, has Dean finally been pushed beyond his limits? It's gonna take all Sam's reserves to rescue his brother this time and get him back to the safety of their arboreal 'home'. (And they may need to shed those wet clothes as well! Bare flesh warning!!) Save 6 The Little Christmas Tree
December 23rd 00.45am
Cold…the word didn't even begin to scratch the surface of what he felt. Cold…had no power to convey the deeply cutting, mind-numbing all encompassing pain that he felt right now. Every fibre of his being seemed to shrivel in on itself, muscles shrieked with the strain and shock of his unexpected plunge into the ice-cold waters of the dark, seething pool.
In the water, as he fought down through the eddying currents, desperately searching for his baby brother, the cold had been secondary. He was in full-on big brother mode and ‘Find Sam!' was the only objective to pierce his one-track mind.
Now, however, as he lay trembling, one arm curled protectively over the feebly moving legs of his softly spluttering brother, he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that had he been on his own he would have, could have, moved no further.
The icy wind, adding insult to injury, played cruelly over his t-shirt clad back, the sodden, clinging cotton doing nothing to prevent the cutting gusts as they attempted to steal away the last remnants of his already seriously depleted body heat.
Blinking the freezing droplets from stinging eyes, he raised his head, wincing as the small movement set the world to spinning. Desperately struggling to control his numb, oddly disconnected feeling limbs, he scrabbled at the wet denim beneath his crooked right arm, feebly shaking the leg beneath.
"S...S...Sammy," He managed through fiercely chattering teeth.
"S...Sammy. W..wake up, d...d...dammit." He pounded weakly on the unresponsive leg. ‘Oh, crap! I gotta get the kid back to shelter. At least he's still breathing.
Dean sucked in a gasp of frigid air, trying to steel himself for the task ahead.
‘Okay, move it! Now! Come on! Suck it up, Winchester. That's Sammy lying there, don't just give up and leave him to die.'
The stern voice of his father snapped him back to the most pressing task at hand.
Dean hauled himself up from the flat grey rock on arms that quivered, whether from the piercing cold or from weakness he neither knew nor cared. Pushing all other thoughts and sensations from his mind he forcefully dragged his legs clear of the icy water. Mercifully numb, he didn't register the fresh bruises and lacerations that adorned his straining form.
With disbelieving eyes, he quickly took in the length of his younger sibling lying prone, draped across the still hissing, slowly deflating carcass of the huge, glitter festooned reindeer as it lay sparkling in the moonlight.
"H...hell, you gotta be k...kidding me!" ‘Okay, this is unreal, must be a dream. Maybe I'll wake up soon.'
Slowly, he shook his head; ice-cold rivulets of river water trickled down his neck. Shuddering, he leant over the slowly stirring Sam.
"S...Sam." His voice rasped brokenly. He coughed, spitting to clear the coppery taste of blood from his mouth, wiping a shaking hand roughly across his lips.
"S...Sammy, you okay?" Shivering he reached out an uncertain hand to brush the lank hair from his brothers fluttering eyelids.
"Sam, dammit. Wake up, dude! We g...gotta get out of here. Now! Come on, man. G...gimme a br...break here."
Sam drifted, unconcerned. Vaguely he felt the discomfort of his grazed knuckles against the hard rock and, if he concentrated, the sounds and smells of the forest and the awful piercing cold trickled into his consciousness, so he shied away. He preferred to remain in the comfortable, anonymous darkness. He felt safe, could sense the reassuring presence of his big brother, and knew all would be well.
Well, at least he thought all was well, until he heard the somewhat less than comforting voice of said big brother shouting loudly in his ear, calling him back from the happy, dissociated world where he'd taken up temporary residence.
Just to confirm that things might be a little less than perfect, the gentle patting at his back grew more insistent and he sensed his shoulder being grabbed more roughly, his face turned towards the cold moonlight.
His eyelids fluttered, and suddenly the outside world came rushing in with an intensity that left him breathless. The bone chilling, biting cold cut through the final vestiges of his lethargy, confirming without a shadow of a doubt that things were pretty far from being either safe or well.
He gasped, desperately lurching upwards, his head contacting with something hard as Dean shouted into his ear. Sam's arms curled around himself as the arctic wind knifed through his water-drenched clothes.
He croaked, his eyes searched wildly for his brother as memories of his unplanned dip came flooding back. He didn't have far to look before his bloodshot, hazel eyes came to rest on the hunched figure of his older sibling, kneeling beside him, clutching the side of his head with both hands.
"H...holy crap, Sam! Is that the th...thanks I get for dragging your s...sorry ass back to dry land? You h...head butted me, man! Hell, n...n...next time I'll j...just go get my own drink, it'll be quicker and s...safer!"
Dean exclaimed loudly, rocking back on his heels and shaking his head to clear it of the fresh batch of stars that danced before his glazed, jade eyes.
"D...D...Dean? Oh g...god. S...s...sorry m...man!"
"F...forget it, Sammy. Come on, we g...gotta get out of this w...w...wind."
Dean reached out; taking hold of Sam's heaving shoulders he shuffled forwards, wincing and stumbling into his dazed brother as fresh shards of pain knifed up from his pulsing knee.
"W...work with me here, I d...don't think I can lift you, S...S...Sam."
Sam blinked slowly, shrinking down into his jacket, seeking protection from the icy blasts that buffeted them both. Suddenly his head snapped up.
"J..Jeez, Dean. You need more than a T...t...t shirt in this w...w...weather. Y...you'll c..catch your d...d...death."
"Well, th...thank you, C...captain Obvious!" Dean snarked, grunting as he shifted his weight to favour his left leg.
Sam twisted onto his knees and pushed himself unsteadily to his feet. Water streamed from hidden pools within his jacket. As he leant down to help Dean up, he did a double take as his glance fell upon the now almost flattened form of the inflatable reindeer. Oblivious to his brother's sarcasm, Sam continued, with eyes held wide.
"D...Dean, is that what I th...th...think it is?"
"Well if y...you think it's a b..big-assed, bl...blow up reindeer. Then, you betcha, Sammy! R...rescued from the d...depths by a fr...freakin' red-nosed r...reindeer!"
Dean shuddered as his gaze fell resignedly to the crushed beast lying by his knees. His eyes lit up briefly and, trembling, he reached behind him for the sharp knife secured at his belt.
"Dude, h...help me here! Hold R...R...Rudolph st...steady."
Confused, Sam grasped the cold, wet, stiff, heavy duty PVC skin and Dean proceeded to slice it from below the jaw right the way down the middle. Hands slipping as he pried the cold-hardened plastic apart.
Even though he was freezing his ass off, Sam couldn't help but notice the nametag around the blow up Bambi's neck.
"Actually he's C...Cupid."
Dean looked at his brother like he had lost his mind. "D...dude, does it matter?"
Sam's pale face coloured slightly in disorientated embarrassment. "Well it m...might to him."
"Wh...whatever, dude. Just h...help me up, already?" Dean shook his head in disbelief.
They clung to each other as Dean attempted to regain his feet, bringing the reindeer with him as he moved.
He announced proudly in reply to Sam's questioning gaze, carefully re-sheathing the deadly blade.
"J...just like Han Solo rescuing L...Luke in ‘The Empire Strikes Back', well ‘cepting that he g...gutted a tauntaun with L...L...Luke's L...lightsaber, to keep them w...warm!"
Sam's face creased in bemusement as understanding dawned on him.
"And you call m...me a g...geek?"
"Wh...what, Sammy? Essential s...survival skills!"
Together they rearranged themselves under the sheltering PVC hide. It was icy cold and wet but more than capable of keeping the wind from the two seriously suffering Winchester boys.
Sam grabbed a handful of Dean's belt, hitching the other's left arm over his own broad shoulder. He felt the constant tremors that wracked his brother's body, and peered through the snow ahead, trying to locate the best route up to the snow covered path.
"D...Dean? Any idea h...how far it is b...back to the tree?"
"Nah, Sam. I took a sh...sh...short cut on the way down, remember?"
Dean turned to locate the waterfall behind him, and then looked back to the jumble of rocks ahead, face locked in concentration.
"Don't think it's too f...far. J...just up there where the sl...slope levels out a little."
He pointed with his chin.
Together they stumbled the short distance across the polished flint and granite of the river's border to the larger boulders that marked the climb up the side, to the path. The eight or so paces had already taken their toll on the elder brother's injured knee, and by the time they stood searching for the easiest route over the silent sentinels that lined the river side, the only thing keeping him on his feet was the towering giant beside him. At least the activity had gone a small way to warming them both.
"Looks like this's about the lowest point." He glanced down dubiously at his brother's knee.
"Dude! Quit staring at m...me. ‘M okay!" Dean gritted his teeth against the pain.
"Sit!" Sam ordered, "I'll be r...right back." He propped his scowling sibling against one of the lower rocks, then clambered unsteadily over the slick rocks up to the top of the path.
"Dean? Can you st...stand up and g...give me your hand? I'll h...help pull you up. Just drop C...Cupid."
He smirked down at his brother unable to resist.
"I know you're unnaturally fond of the b...big sparkly guy, d...dude, but don't worry, I'll come back down for him, I p...promise."
Dean was, for once, too tired to give as good a he got, but a slight smile crinkled the corner of his mouth as he pushed himself, one-legged off the granite. Hugging the unwieldy, plastic robe closer about himself, he stood, wavering, as the gusts buffeted around him. ‘I can do this! I can do this!'
He chanted silently, raising his eyes heavenward to find his goal. Sam's long arm dangled down towards him, hand outstretched. ‘Dammit, I gotta do this!'
He placed his left palm firmly against the rock face, balanced squarely on his right leg, and then reluctantly released his hold on the faux-reindeer hide. He stretched up, fingertips just brushing against Sam's as Cupid dropped away behind him. He felt the world resume its slow spinning as he shuffled painfully, closer to the wall. Sam leant out further over the ledge and their hands finally contacted.
"I'll pull you up, okay? Just try and help me, push up with your good leg, alright?" Sam's voice instructed.
Dean simply nodded up at the looming figure above him, he scrabbled for a grip on the rock face with his left hand, felt the strain as Sam hauled steadily on his right. As his good leg left the ground he swung awkwardly, twisting to prevent the damaged left knee from colliding with the wall. His numb, sock-clad feet scrabbling futilely as he sought to gain purchase on the rock face. Only the knowledge that having to do it all over again would be even worse, kept him going. Well, that and Sam's determined grip on his hand.
Together they struggled, cursing and slipping, Dean losing the battle to keep his savagely burning knee away from the jutting rocks. Agony burst through him afresh as his right foot slipped, the toes smashing violently into the cold uncaring granite.
He spluttered, as red lights burst before his startled eyes.
Sam grimaced as grasping fingers ground painfully into the flesh of his hands, he heard the frantic intake of breath and he redoubled his efforts.
Eventually, Dean's bruised and battered head drew level with the pathway and, gratefully, he threw his arm up and over onto the path above. His broad shoulders straining at the taut material of his still damp t-shirt as he sucked in great gulps of the icy, stinging air.
The tight grip disengaged silently from his hand to be re-instated moments later in his belt, and with a mighty heave, Sam dragged the older man up onto the snow-crested slope beside him. They both lay there, shattered beyond belief, with a quickly growing snowstorm building around them. Above, the clear, cold moonlight was broken with ever-increasing frequency by the fast moving approach of the heavy snow-laden, clouds.
Sam lay back, regarding the threatening sky with increasing concern as, beside him, Dean slowly curled himself into a ball, eyes squeezed tightly shut against the fresh onslaught of the wind driven snow on the open track. Lying on his side, rocking, he hugged his knees to his chest, grinding his teeth, as he tried in vain to prevent the anguished groans from passing between his blue tinged lips.
"Oh god!" Sam whispered, shrugging out of his own soaking jacket and laying the heavy cloth across his brother, attempting to keep the bitter wind from him, as he lay exposed to the frigid night air.
"'M sorry, Sammy." Dean murmured, distractedly, as he finally lost his battle against the rising tide of pain and exhaustion that pulled him down into its warm, dark embrace.
"Ah, no. Dammit, Dean. I need to get you someplace warm. Like now! Come on, man! H...help me out here."
Nothing penetrated the thick fog that shrouded his awareness, as Dean's overly abused body tumbled into shutdown mode. He never felt the rough shaking of his shoulder, nor the hands that gathered him up and carried his dead weight, slipping and sliding, desperately up the ice-strewn track, back to the shelter of the majestic spruce. Never felt the scratch of soft fir sprays against his face as Sam struggled on ice-numbed feet, under the low-lying boughs and out of the cutting winds of the gale that accompanied the approaching storm.
Sam stumbled, struggling under the load of his comatose brother, back up the track, towards the bottom of the steep slope. The moonlight, which had earlier lit the path with startling clarity, was now concealed behind a glowering bank of cloud that lumbered ominously across the sky.
Panting heavily, muscles straining, he huffed out clouds of misting breath that were instantly whipped away by the harsh wind that harried him along the narrow track. Blinking furiously to clear his streaming eyes, he peered into the gloom, searching for the low sweeping branches of the white spruce where they had earlier set up camp.
“Dammit, Dean. I'm sorry, dude! I gotta put you down, just for a minute. I can't see a damn thing and all the damned trees look the same, anyway!”
Lines of worry etched his face as he searched for somewhere safe to lay his precious burden. Suddenly his booted foot caught on something across the path, something lying partially concealed under a fresh drifting of snow. He staggered to a halt, ready to move around the obstruction, unwilling to risk a fall on the tapering track, he stepped back just as a shaft of pure moonlight broke through the cloud cover, momentarily lighting the area as bright as day.
Sam's questing eyes picked out the indentations of footsteps, the dark shadows casting relief starkly n the moonlight. The obstacle at his feet, revealed as the sleeve of what could only be Dean's leather jacket, discarded on the pathway before them. A wider sweep of the area revealed the results of Sam's previous slide down to the edge of the chasm, the handle of the dented metal mug just visible where Sam had scrabbled for purchase on the slippery slope.
“Okay, looks like we're in business, dude! I guess we're nearly home for the night.”
Gratefully, Sam sank to his knees beside the ground hugging branches, the glimpse of moonlight all he'd needed to re-orientate himself. He lowered Dean carefully down and grasped him under the shoulders, hauling the unconscious body up onto his lap. He shrugged under the lowest boughs and shuffling backwards, worked his way into the concealed den.
Instantly the shriek of the wind around his head dropped, replaced by the low creaks and groans of ancient wood swaying in time with the gusting currents of air. He knelt, sucking in huge gulps of the dry, spruce scented air, ears still ringing with the echoes of the gale outside.
Fatigued muscles shook as he pulled the small flashlight from his inner pocket, praying it would live up to its waterproof claims. He pressed the rubber switch and slumped in relief as the tiny torch illuminated their surroundings, the bright light causing long shadows to leap up into the canopy of brown needles that just brushed against the top of his snow-splattered head. He gazed in exhausted relief at the soft, deep carpet of discarded needles from years past and, more importantly, at the gentle curve of the sweeping boughs that reached down to the ground, providing shelter from both wind and snow.
Sam carefully manoeuvred the ice cold form of his brother back into the ‘nest' he had made for him earlier, shaking his head to clear his thoughts. He wiped a bloodstained hand across his forehead, rubbing at his temples, attempting to stop the ringing noise. Shivering violently now, he blew onto his raw, grazed fingers, rubbing them together and wincing at the cruel ache that accompanied the returning warmth and blood flow.
"Dean, I'm gonna get these wet clothes off you, man. Then I'm gonna go get your jacket, it's just outside. When I get back I'll get the fire going in no time, I promise."
He transferred the Maglite to his mouth and with fingers prickling from the cold, he peeled off the dark stained socks, wincing as he revealed the bloodied, broken nails, and spreading bruising on the two largest toes on the right foot.
"Holy crap, Dean!"
Sam ran his trembling hands through his frost-whitened hair.
‘Jesus! There's no way you're walking out of here on that tomorrow even if we can get your boots back on.
Now that he had stopped moving, the bitter cold of his soaking clothes began to penetrate his exhausted frame. He fumbled to undo Dean's belt buckle. At any second he expected the sardonic tone of his sibling's voice instructing him to get his hands off the merchandise, but soft rasping breaths were the only accompaniment to his shuddering efforts.
Waves of dizziness rolled over him and black spots danced before his eyes.
"No, no, no, don't even think it." He begged, leaning forwards onto his hands as he sucked in deep breaths fighting back the dizziness that assailed him.
"Okay, this isn't working. Dean? I'm going out just to get your jacket in here; I'll be back in two minutes."
He spoke aloud to reassure himself as much as to inform his comatose brother. Gently he rested his hand against his brother's forehead, watching for any sign of acknowledgment. Getting none, he scuffled out into the ever-worsening night, breath catching in his throat as the winds buffeted him brusquely.
He played the flashlight beam across the ground and locating the jacket, complete with his brother's heavy shirts inside, quickly bent to retrieve them, batting at them to remove the thick layer of snow. Turning to leave, the narrow beam glinted upon the handle of the tin mug, as it lay wedged against the roots of a stunted holly bush.
Sam fell to his knees, unwilling to risk another unplanned dip, and reached down the icy slope. He managed to hook his fingers around the handle, and rose triumphantly, brushing off the fresh coating of snow as he hunched his way back to the shelter of their tree. Shivering uncontrollably, he ducked low and gratefully entered the small oasis of calm beneath the sheltering boughs.
He shrugged from his jacket, shirt, boots and jeans, throwing them to the other side of the trunk and quickly pulled one of his brother's shirts from where it nestled inside the heavy leather jacket. The steady light from his flashlight, played across the ridged muscles of his tense abdomen highlighting the dark bruising from his recent plunge into the river, as he shrugged into the cold, but mercifully dry, undershirt. He sighed with pleasure as the soft material enfolded his bare upper body. With hands that shook, he grabbed his brother's rucksack, and offering up a prayer of thanks for the fire he had already set in the cleared area, he grappled around for the matches.
The sudden flare from the match and the comforting aroma of the saltpetre igniting did much to calm his fraying nerves. The flame flickered, dulling briefly as he offered it to the small pile of wood shavings. Sam had chosen not to start off with lighter fluid, as the whole underside of the tree was bone dry and the oils in the spruce would need little persuasion to burn. He'd been careful to clear all the needles from the immediate area of the impromptu fire-pit to ensure there was no accidental spread.
Greedily, the little flame licked at the curls of bark, the burst of light and sudden puff of heat as it caught and spread was a little taste of heaven to Sam. Concentrating, he fed the flames, gradually adding larger kindling, allowing it time to catch before adding the bigger pieces of broken branches. Within minutes, a small, fiercely burning fire lit the cosy scene, the smoke rising to filter away into the canopy overhead. Flickering light bounced off the eerily moving fronds, and shadows leapt in crazy relief as warmth began to suffuse the hideaway.
The ghost of the Christmas Hiker peered in from the howling tempest, understanding the brother’s need for shelter, vaguely remembering what it felt like to feel the pleasure of soft heat on cold skin. He knew they both needed to rest, could see that if they were to be able to do what he needed them to do they had, at least, to be able to struggle on a few more miles. After that they could rest all they wanted and maybe, finally, so could he. So, he kept his vigil. The vestiges of his earthly body flying like decaying banners in the wind and snow as he shied away from the orange glow emanating from the safety of the tree, terrified of the devastating effect the flames may have on the dry, musty tatters he had become.
Sam turned back to his slowly stirring brother, confident that the fire had taken a hold. Awkwardly, he climbed over the still form and pushed him closer to the small flames. Grunting with the effort, he eased Dean into a sitting position and struggled against his cold-stiffened fingers to pull the ruined T-shirt from his brothers body.
Dean sagged heavily against his brother's chest as Sam threw the T-shirt onto the pile of wet clothes. The undulating light revealed the full set of mottled marks on his brother's pale torso; Sam eased him up and flinched at the livid bruising and fresh bleeding on his collarbone, ribs and back. The deep scratches from his original fall from the bluff, reopened by the rough buffeting of the waves.
Gently, he draped the chequered, soft flannel over-shirt over the scratches and gouges on his brother's back, and fought to place uncooperative arms within the sleeves. Dean groaned, almost in pleasure, as the warm, dry cloth contacted his ice-cold body.
"Hey, Dean. You back with me, buddy?" Sam tried hopefully.
But Dean just nestled into his brother's neck and mumbled something unintelligible.
"Whoa, whoa, dude. Come on! Wake up, man!"
Dean's head lolled towards the sound of Sam's voice, his eyelids fluttering as he struggled back to the surface. His eyes flew open as he lurched forwards, dazed emerald, blinking in confusion at the scene before him.
"Sam?" He panted bewildered. "Sammy, what the he...? Where...?"
His brow wrinkled in deep confusion before he gasped and slumped back heavily against Sam’s chest, sucking in stilted breaths as the cold penetrated his awareness and violent tremors began to wrack his exhausted frame.
"Hey, hey, it's okay, Dean." Sam comforted quietly, "We're fine, we're back under the tree. Just lie back. Just try and relax. There you go." He eased him down into the bed of needles.
"C...c...cold, S...S...Sammy!" He stammered through teeth that chattered.
"Don't worry, you'll soon warm up, now. Come on, I gotta get you outta those jeans, Dean."
"In y...your dr...dreams, Pr...Pr...Princess!"
Dean feebly swatted at his brother's cold hands, then groaned at his own feeble attempts to struggle free of the wet leather of his belt with fingers that refused to cooperate.
"Here, Dean, let me help." Sam intoned quietly, attempting to minimize the damage to his brother's dignity.
"Get outta here, S...Samantha. I've been dressing myself since I was f...four years old. Don't need you to do it now!" He cried out as the deep gashes on his bruised knuckles caught on the cold, stiff denim.
"How's the knee feeling?"
"Just freakin' peachy, Sam. Dammit, hurts like a sonofabitch!" Dean panted as he raised his hips trying to shimmy out of the wet, clinging material.
Wordlessly, Sam grabbed a hold of the jeans and gently eased them down past his swollen knee. A deep gash oozed a steady trickle of blood, which ran into the loosely clinging bandage, fresh bruising in furious shades of blue, yellow and purple stood out on his pale flesh.
"Lemme get that wet dressing off you, it's only gonna make matters worse. It'll be dry by morning and I'll re-wrap it for you then. You've torn your leg quite badly, Dean. It really needs stitches but I haven't got anything to suture it with. I'll sort it when we get to the car tomorrow."
"Yeah, whatever, Sam."
Dean replied sleepily as he lay with eyes pressed tightly shut, breathing through the pain as he'd been taught to do. Sam smoothed out the crinkled space blanket and tucked it around the quivering figure.
He added more sticks to the fast burning fire and a fresh burst of warmth filled the interior. Gathering all the wet clothes, he shuffled to the other side of the tree-trunk and proceeded to hang the dripping items from the living boughs, as close to the flickering flames as it was safe to.
"So, lemme see what food you got in your bag, Dean? Gimme a couple of minutes and I'll see if I can rustle us up something to eat." His face lit up as his glance fell upon the retrieved mug.
He scooted back to the fire and emptied their meagre provisions into a small pile. He tipped water into the mug and set it close to the fire to warm.
"So, Dean, what's it to be? M&M's or Oaty Granola?"
"Not hungry. ‘M tired."
"No you don't, Dean! Come on, wake up. You gotta eat something before you go to sleep!"
Dean shook his head to clear the encroaching darkness.
"’M sorry, Sammy.” Dean's defeated voice drifted quietly across the small clearing. “‘M sorry I lost it for a while back there!"
"Dude, don't be crazy. Who do you think pulled me outta the water when I was half drowned? You saved me, you idiot! So, stop with the apologies or, so help me, I'm gonna spend the entire night listing every time you have saved me, and kill you with squirming embarrassment!"
Dean smiled tiredly, the gold reflecting from the flames lighting his eyes with emerald flecked fires in the darkness.
"Okay, I guess. No more apologies."
Sam smiled softly in return.
"Good, now sit up for me and eat some of these. They'll get your blood sugar back up and make you feel better."
He helped Dean to a sitting position and dropped a handful of the brightly coloured sweets into his brother's cupped hand.
Dean dutifully placed the candy in his mouth and closed his eyes, a look of contentment spreading across his pale features.
"Dean, listen to me. I'm gonna have to take a look at your foot, okay. It looks like you've smashed your toes up on the rocks. I need to wrap it up but I think it's gonna hurt, bro."
"'Kay, Sammy." Dean yawned round his mouthful of M&M's. The warmth of the fire comforting him, lulling him slowly to sleep.
Sam cleaned and wrapped the worst of Dean's increasing inventory of wounds with barely an expletive from his increasingly drowsy sibling. The toes were surely broken and Sam knew he should be worrying about how the hell Dean was going to walk with a smashed up knee on one side and two broken toes on the other. But, somehow, all he could think about was how good it would be to rest his head down and close his eyes.
Diligently he fed the fire, banking it with some of the thicker logs and then, unable to keep his eyes open any longer, he shuffled around to his brothers far side, spread the second space blanket over himself and burrowed deep into the thick carpet of dry fronds and needles, curling protectively around his brothers exposed side. He sighed contentedly; revelling in the warmth, relaxing as he listened to the gentle pops and crackles from the life saving fire and the sounds of his brother’s steady breathing beside him. He smiled; it was a sound that had signified reassurance and safety for almost his whole life. Within moments he had sunk gratefully into a deep and dreamless sleep.
Soft, dappled light filtered through the dense overhead matrix, gradually filling their cosy den with a soft light that heralded the dawn. Sam groaned, shivering under the foil blanket, he rolled over onto his back and lay regarding his current surroundings. The small fire had burnt out and any lingering warmth had long since dissipated. He sat up and stretched, aching muscles protesting the movement. Soft snores issued forth from his still sleeping brother and Sam quickly set about re-kindling the fire. The mug lay undisturbed where he had set it to warm and he moved it out of the way as the small flames spread.
As welcoming heat once again spread through the shelter, Sam realised what was different. The rising sound of the gale outside, the creaks and groans of the ancient spruce and the rushing of the wind, which had been a constant backdrop, was gone. All was silent. He crawled to the edge of the den and tried to push through to the outside. A wall of solid white greeted him.
Snow had drifted in the storm of the night before, and a deep bank rested up against the tree. As Sam pushed through, his eyes fell upon a glistening vista, the bright sun shone down on a crystal clear morning. Everything was covered in a thick layer of shimmering white. The deep snow, pinning the low sweeping branches of the White Spruce, had effectively formed a wind-proof barrier, sealing them into a warm, safe haven for the night.
"Well, I'll be damned!" He mused quietly.
He ducked back inside, quickly, rubbing his hands together, the wind had dropped but so had the temperature. Outside was bitterly cold.
Beside the fire, water was starting to steam gently from the mug, Sam hesitated then sprinkled half a Granola bar into it, mixing it with a slender twig, then he threw in a handful of M&M's for taste and stirred until they melted. He breathed in the sweet aroma appreciatively, and then sipped at the foul looking brew. He looked across at the pallid features of his still sleeping sibling and settled down next to the fire. He knew Dean would be in a world of hurt when he awoke and couldn’t bring himself to disturb his peaceful slumber.
Heat seeped into his body from both the small fire that crackled cheerily beside him and from the steaming mug that he cupped in his stinging hands. He slurped the oddly textured beverage and shuddered with pleasure as its warmth and sweetness flooded his energy deprived body. Yawning, he stretched across to the perimeter of their lair and scooped a huge handful of fresh snow into the mug and set it to heat by the flames.
As it heated, he shrugged his way into his now blissfully dry clothing, warm and smelling sweetly of wood smoke. As he laced his heavy boots, the steam began to drift in whispers from the battered mug, he sprinkled the rest of the granola bar into the liquid and threw in a handful of the brightly colored sweets, stirring it then setting it back by the fire.
"Dean? Hey, Dean! Time to wake up, man."
The soft snoring stopped, replaced by a low growl, and then a reluctant gasp of pain as Dean turned onto his side, jarring his many injuries.
“Holy crap!” He wheezed, rolling onto his back as he shifted to ease the flares of pain igniting from his stiffened knee.
“Morning, sleeping beauty!” Sam grinned across the clearing as Dean cracked open a bleary eye.
"Morning, Sam." He yawned widely, "Where in hell’s name are we?" Dean sat up gingerly rubbing tentatively at his aching head.
"Don't you remember last night? I fell into the river, you pulled me out! We just about made it back up here under the tree."
Comprehension slowly filtered across Dean’s face as memories of the night before trickled back.
Silently, Sam passed the mug across to his brother.
"Dammit, so we're still up the mountain, huh?" Dean sniffed suspiciously at the offensive looking brew, scowling before taking a hesitant sip.
He quirked an eyebrow, "Not bad, Sammy. Not bad at all!"
"Yeah, we're still up the mountain and we need to find a way down today. We've got half a packet of M&M's and 3 Granola bars left. The freaky-assed ghost is still tailing us, your leg’s still busted up, and there's been the mother of all snowstorms during the night. There's at least 2 ft of snow out there!" He rushed on, giving his brother no chance to speak. "How about I hike out of here and get us some help, Dean?"
Dean spluttered into the sweet concoction.
"No, dammit! Just not gonna happen, Sammy. Ma knee's just fine now. Just needed a little rest is all. You're not going wandering off on your own in a whiteout, especially not with ‘Floaty the hiker boy' still on the prowl. It's just not happening, dude!"
"There's no way you can walk on that leg especially seeing that you tore a 2 inch gash in your thigh and somehow broke two toes last night."
Dean pushed the space blanket down and inspected his left leg. Tentatively, he flexed his knee in an attempt to reassure his brother that it really was okay, only to have the resurgence of last night's grating sensation assail him. Added to that, the jagged gash re-opened its bloody mouth and warm, wet blood oozed onto his pale thigh, the blood vessels no longer constricted by the ice-cold water. He dug his nails into his palm to keep from crying out.
"See, right as rain!" He rasped.
Sam looked on in amazement, and reached forward to pull the blanket from Dean's feet.
"Okay, Captain Courageous! What do you make of those beauties? Let's see if you're still ‘right as rain' when you've got your boots back on?"
Dean's face paled as he looked in horror at the gory mess on the end of his right foot and a wave of nausea threatened to overwhelm him. He looked sheepishly at his brother and whispered.
"Okay, so I might need a Band-Aid if you've got one, Sam."
Sam snorted in disbelief.
"Dean, you're hopeless! I could make it back to the Impala much quicker without you and get some help back here."
"And what the hell happens if you fall and break your leg. First rule of survival, Sammy, is we stick together. I'll be fine once I get going."
Sam gave up, knowing his argument was already lost, knew it before he'd even started.
"Well at least let me strap your knee back up. I can't sort out that cut here but I'll wrap it tight to stop the bleeding, and we'll worry about sutures later. There's nothing I can do for broken toes anyway."
Sam turned his back and shuffled around the tree trunk to retrieve the dried bandage as Dean sank back into his cradle of still warm spruce, relieved that he had persuaded his brother to his point of view.
"Anyway, bro. You'll be pleased to know your Christmas save theory is still intact!" Sam announced, smiling tightly as he reached for Dean's wounded leg.
"It is?" Dean looked suspiciously at his brother as he assumed full-on mother-hen mode.
"Yeah, if we'd been out in this last night, there's no way we could have survived. So, dude, looks like last night we were ‘saved' by a huge Christmas tree!"
“’Kay, Sammy. Enough’s enough! Let’s just get down off this freaky-assed mountain and back to some sorta normal civilisation. I’ve had enough of this Christmas save crap to last me a lifetime!”
And so it continues… at least they’re both warm, rested and have had a good nights sleep. I so didn’t want to come out from under that tree; it was such a lovely place to be with two weary Winchester boys!! However, we need to get them off this mountain, so please join us tomorrow for the next instalment.
We’d love to know what you think of it so far…Jane and Bev x