It was dark in the forest, a deep dark, aggravated by the overcast and the seemingly perpetual rain. Sam sighed and resisted the urge to zip up his jacket further, all that did was tighten the grip of the cold fabric around his neck. He could see the beam from Dean’s flashlight just off to his left as they moved through the trees, listening for any sound of the werewolf they were hunting.
“I think it’s gone,” Dean grumbled.
“You wounded it, Dean, it can’t have gone far.”
“Well how the hell are we going to find it in this weather? It sucks.”
“Yeah, you might have mentioned that once or twice.” Every fifteen minutes for the last three hours.
“What is it about Washington? The weather hates us, the plants hate us, the traffic sucks,” Dean continued his complaints.
“You can’t hold the run in you had with the blackberries against the whole state.”
“I can and will, Sammy.” He heard Dean sigh. “Every time we get into this area it’s not fun. Twice it’s tried to kill us.”
“The state didn’t try to kill us, Dean,” Sam said.
“Feels that way.” Dean flashlight stopped moving. “Tracks, Sam.”
“Coming.” Sam walked towards Dean, his brother had his flashlight trained on the ground, the prints of the werewolf were clear in the soft mud. “We’re heading in the right direction.”
Something growled in the dark trees ahead of them. Sam glanced at his brother, it hadn’t sounded like the werewolf to him. Dean was frowning, his head bent a little to the side, listening to the sounds around them. A branch snapped, Sam turned his flashlight tin the direction of the noise. He thought he saw the dark shadow of something moving through the trees. The barking howl of the werewolf was suddenly in the forest ahead of them. Something else was moving up on their other side. Sam looked over at this brother, “Two of them?” Dean shrugged.
The werewolf broke through the trees, looking over its shoulder. It ran into Sam at high speed and knocked him over. The creature picked itself up and took off again, still looking over its shoulder.
“Sammy?” Dean said, helping him up. Sam leaned against a tree for a moment.
“I’m okay, Dean. Go, I’m right behind you.”
Dean ran his eyes over him, nodded and took off after the creature. Sam pushed himself off the tree and followed the sounds of Dean crashing through the undergrowth. Sam could just make out the ghostly shape of his brother through the dark forest when the night was split with the bright flash of Dean’s gun, another shot closely followed.
“Got…” Dean’s voice was suddenly cut off, Sam saw a dark shadow cross in front of his brother, then Dean was gone.
“Dean!” Sam ran to where he could see the body of the werewolf lying in the leaves. There were drag marks running into the forest to his left. He followed. “Dean!” Sam swung the flashlight around frantically, nothing. He had been following the drag marks for what felt like an eternity, when the light finally caught something more substantial. Dean’s foot. “Dean?” Sam knelt down beside his brother, there was blood, a lot of blood, on his left arm. “Hey, come on.”
“Sm?” Dean’s eyes opened. “Sam?”
“Yeah, what happened?”
“Something grabbed me.” Dean swallowed. “Bit me.”
“What was it?” Sam asked, fishing the small first aid kit out of his pocket. They’d left the big one and their bags at the car. He eased Dean’s jacket off and looked at the bite, sharp teeth had cut into Dean’s upper arm. Sam squinted at the wound. In the dark forest, under the light of the flashlight, the bite had an odd color to it. Sam prayed it was just a trick of the light. He stuck down a sterile pad and wrapped it. “Dean? What was it?” he asked again.
“What bit you?”
“Don’t know. How bad is it?” Dean blinked, there was something worrying in the amount of time it took him to get his eyes opened again.
“I’m not sure, it’s hard to tell out here, let’s get back to the room so I can get a better look.”
“You didn’t say get me to the ER. Good.”
“Right,” Sam huffed, rolling his eyes. Some day I’m going to kill him. He helped Dean onto his feet, Dean stood swaying for a moment.
“Might need a hand, Sammy, I feel a little weird.”
“It’s probably shock,” Sam said, pulling Dean’s arm over his shoulders, willing it to be true, and knowing it wasn’t.
By the time they got back to the room, Dean was moving in and out of consciousness, and Sam was beginning to panic. He helped Dean into the bathroom, so he could wash the wound. When he unwrapped Dean’s arm the beginnings of panic moved to full blown panic, with just an edge of something like hysteria. The wound was still seeping, only it wasn’t blood, it was a strange greenish-gray fluid, the edge of the wound surrounded by streaks of the green tinged with black.
“That’s not good,” Dean said, looking at his arm.
“No, I’m going to get the holy water.” Sam walked into the main room and dug the flask out of his bag. His hands were shaking. When he got back to the bathroom, Dean’s head was down on the sink. “Dean?”
“I don’t know what this will do.” Sam opened the flask and held it over Dean’s arm.
Sam poured the water over the wound, at first it did nothing, then it started to foam. Dean screamed. Sam smelled burning flesh. He dragged Dean’s arm to the faucet and turned it on, washing the holy water away. The fizzing, smoking foam washed down the drain. “Dean?” No response. Sam reached desperately for a pulse, he found it, weak and thready, but there. He continued washing the blood away, then dried the bite and wrapped it in sterile gauze.
“Shit, that hurt,” Dean finally mumbled.
“Sorry. Can you make it to the bed?”
“Yep.” Dean pushed himself up, swayed and collapsed towards the floor, Sam caught him before he was all the way down. “Thanks.”
“Sure.” Sam helped his brother to bed. “Think you can change?”
“Don’t ask me to change, Sammy,” Dean smirked at him.
“Ha, ha, Dean.” Sam grabbed a pair of sweats and a t-shirt and handed them to Dean. He waited until Dean had them on, then settled him into bed, pulling the blankets up.
“Remote.” Dean snapped his fingers.
“Can’t live without that,” Sam said and handed him the TV remote. He grabbed his laptop and settled on the other bed, looking for something that might help. Sam glanced over at Dean, his brother was watching TV, his eyes half closed. “Dean?”
“Yeah.” Sam turned back to his research. He tracked down several possible sources for the wound, found a terrifying list of possible symptoms, called Bobby, and went back to research. He checked on Dean after half an hour. Dean’s eyes were closed, his head back against the wall.
“Dean?” Sam set the laptop aside, walked over to the bed, and laid a hand on Dean’s forehead. His brother was burning up. “Dean?”
“How do you feel?”
“Dean!” Sam shook him, Dean’s eyes drifted open.
“Wha’s wrong?” Dean tried to focus on him, then closed his eyes. “Head hurts.”
“I’ll get you something, okay? Stay with me.”
“Not going anywhere.”
Sam walked into the bathroom and wet a wash cloth, then grabbed the Tylenol out of their first aid kit. “Take these.”
“Thanks.” Dean held out his hands and dropped the pills in his mouth, he sighed when Sam laid the cool cloth on his head.
Sam grabbed his computer, sat down next to Dean and went back to research, checking on Dean every few minutes. After awhile the low throb of panic started to increase to a rapid pulse, his brother was fading and fast. Dean would be conscious, then not, then drifting somewhere between the two. Bobby called back around eight in the morning with some ideas, Sam tracked them through the internet, he found several more, all hard to find herbs, but it was a start. He opened up the online phone book for the area, hoping to find someplace that might have what he needed, he discarded several before he ran across “Emrys Apothecary. Herbs, medicinal and magical, alchemical supplies and esoteric items, serving the area since 1850.”
Sam got up, stretched and shook his brother gently. Dean didn’t respond at first, but he finally got his eyes open. Oh god. Dean’s eyes didn’t focus on him, or anything for that matter. “Dean?”
“I have an idea that might help, I found someplace that I think will have what we need.”
“Good, let’s go.” Dean pushed himself up, blinked, turned towards Sam and sighed. “Maybe you should drive.”
Galen Emrys wandered through his shop, putting things away and rearranging items to make way for the shipment he’d just gotten in. Business had been slow in the herb store, it had started raining, one of those downpours the Northwest served up occasionally, and people were staying in. Even Becci had closed the coffee stand across the street a little early. She’d dropped off a mocha on her way home. His brother, Rob, had gone in search of a part for their recently acquired car a favorite customer had given them. Galen was filling the time until closing getting some work done in the quiet.
The rumble of a big engine pulled his attention from the jars of herbs on the shelf. He turned around and looked out the windows. The car pulled up to the curb and the purr of the engine was shut off. Galen watched as the shaggy-haired man in the driver’s seat spoke with the passenger. The other was leaning with his head against the seat, the driver nodded then got out of the car.
He was tall, even with shoulders hunched against the rain, hands in his pockets. If Galen were guessing, he’d say the man had inches on him, which didn’t happen all that often. The man opened the door slowly, eyes casting around the shop before he stepped in. He glanced at Galen, then walked slowly around the edge of the shop. He stopped every few seconds to look at something before glancing out the windows towards the car.
Galen sighed, he was used to people wandering in the shop looking for vitamins and being surprised—occasionally offended—by the more esoteric offerings of his store. Conversely, some people coming in looking for magical items were offended by the more mundane products available. Some days I can’t win. This man didn’t seem to fit either profile. His hesitation had nothing to do with the shop. Galen wondered if he was looking for medical help—his shop occasionally functioned as a clinic and he stitched wounds and more than once dealt with something more serious.
“Can I help you?” Galen asked from behind the counter.
“Yeah, I’m looking for,” the man paused and looked at the piece of paper in his hand, walked over to the counter and handed it to Galen. “These herbs. Do you have any of them?”
“Yes.” Galen looked at him, trying to get a better sense of what he wanted. “Magical or medicinal?”
“Are you using them in magic or for medicine?” Galen casually held out his hand. “I’m Galen.”
“Sam,” the other said, taking his hand and glancing out the window. Fear, worry and something very close to panic slid up from the contact. Galen let his hand drop, and looked at the passenger in the car. Sam’s afraid, not for himself, but for… Galen sorted through the feelings he’d gotten through the handshake… his brother. “Medical,” Sam said.
“Medical? Did someone send you?” Galen looked at Sam, wondering if someone had mentioned he was a healer.
“No, I found you in the phone book.”
“Okay. You know a couple of these are poison?” Galen asked.
“Yeah. I know.” He looked out the window again.
“What’s it for?” Galen asked with a smile. He turned to the shelves and started pulling jars down.
“I just need them.”
“You just need them?” Galen stopped and looked at Sam. “What’s it for? Really?”
“I read that they can help…” Sam turned to look at the car again. “Draw poison.”
“Poison?” Galen set the jar of betony down and frowned at Sam. “What kind of poison?”
“I’m not sure. Animal.”
“Something bit him,” Sam said, looking out the window again.
Galen sighed, tired of dancing around. “What kind of something, Sam? Black Widow? Snake?” Sam didn’t answer. “Skinwalker? Ghoul?”
The last two words brought the other’s attention back to Galen. “What?”
“Knowing what it was helps.”
“I don’t know.” Sam looked distressed. “We were separated. I… I found him. He said something bit him, he didn’t get a good look at it.”
“How long till the symptoms appeared?”
“He had a hard time walking when I found him. Then he started getting worse, a lot worse. He can barely stay awake, he’s in and out. I’m not sure he can see anymore.”
“You’re not sure?” Galen frowned.
“He hasn’t mentioned it. It’s just a guess.” Sam looked out the window again.
“That’s helpful.” Galen watched another figure cross the street, his brother, Rob, on his way back from the parts’ store. He stopped in front of the car, and stood there for a long moment looking at the passenger before coming into the shop. Galen wondered what his brother saw, Rob was Gifted with the Sight, he could “see” people in different ways, including illness and evil. “Don’t slam the door like that, Brat,” Galen said as he came into the shop.
“Rhiannon always does, you don’t yell at her.”
“Rhiannon would tear my liver out. I’m pretty sure you won’t.” Galen smiled at Sam. “Rob? Customer.”
“Yeah, right. Hi,” Rob said, walking over to them. He looked at Sam, at the man in the car and then back at Galen.
“Hi,” Sam said. He looked like he wanted to grab the herbs and bolt of the shop.
“What’s going on?” Rob asked, walking around the counter to stand beside Galen.
“What do you see?” Galen asked his brother. Rob was looking at Sam with the out of focus look that meant he was using the Sight. Rob hesitated.
“He can help,” Rob said to Sam.
“What?” Sam frowned.
“The guy in the car? He’s with you?” Rob asked, Sam nodded, his frown deepening. “Galen can help.”
“He helped me with the herbs. Thanks.” Sam looked at the car and back. “What do I owe you?”
“Five-fifty for the herbs,” Galen said. Sam dug in his pocket for the money.
“Thanks.” Sam turned to go. Rob stepped around the counter and grabbed his arm, Sam tried to shake it off.
“He’s dying,” Rob said quietly, an urgent undercurrent in his voice.
“What?” Sam stopped and looked at him.
“He’s dying, and soon.”
“What are you talking about?” Sam said, frowning at Rob.
“Galen’s a healer. He might be able to help.”
“I came for the herbs,” Sam said, but Galen could see he was beginning to waver.
“You’d turn down help? What the hell?” Rob snapped.
“Rob?” Galen said, frowning at his brother.
“I know, but you can help.” He turned back to Sam. “He can help.”
Galen was listening to the exchange, but he was watching the man in the car. He’d shifted in the seat several times, one hand scrubbed across his face, then he shifted again. The door to the car opened. “Hey,” Galen said. Rob and Sam looked at him. “He needs help now.” Galen was moving before the man in the car started vomiting, dark blood splattering the wet pavement.
“Dean!” Sam raced past him and out to the car. “Dean?”
“Don’t feel good, Sammy,” the other said when he finished. Sam helped him sit up.
“I got the herbs, we can find a hotel and…” Sam stopped as the other bent forward again, blood flowing from his mouth.
Galen stepped to the car and laid a hand on the man’s back. He just wanted to get a sense of what was going one. Pain, the taste of blood, and a something that was deeply dark and evil lashed up from the touch. The darkness exploded behind his eyes, Galen staggered back into his brother. “Herbs won’t help,” he said.
“What?” Sam looked up at him.
“The herbs won’t help your brother,” Galen repeated. Rob had a steadying hand on his shoulder. “Get him upstairs.”
“Okay.” Rob moved towards the car.
“Stay away,” Sam said, standing between Rob and the man in the car. Suspicion had darkened Sam’s face.
“What?” Rob stopped, but Galen saw his muscles tense.
“Sam?” the other said, reaching out for him.
“What is it, Dean?” he asked gently, bending over him.
“I… Sammy….” He pitched forward, out of the car and against Sam as a convulsion ripped through his body.
“Dean!” Sam cradled his brother against him as the convulsion continued. “Dean?”
“Your brother? Dean?” Galen asked, kneeling beside them. Sam nodded.
“Galen! Be careful,” Rob said from behind him.
“I know, Brat.” Galen laid his hand on Dean’s head, letting the light flow down his arm and into the other, the convulsion eased, then stopped. Galen pulled his hand away before the darkness could affect him too much. “Dean?” he said softly.
“Yeah?” Dean said without opening his eyes. “Who are you?”
“My name is Galen.”
“How’d you do that?”
“Do what, Dean?” Sam asked, frowning at Galen. He looked like he was ready to take a swing.
“Stopped it. Hurts a little less, too.”
“I told you, Galen’s a healer,” Rob huffed in frustration.
“I might be able to help a little more,” Galen said to Dean. “If you’re willing.”
“Dean…” Sam said warningly.
“Okay,” Dean said.
“Dean? Are you sure?” Sam asked quietly.
“No, I’m not.” Dean opened his eyes, they didn’t focus on anything. “But…” He swallowed.
“Let me help,” Galen said softly, meeting Sam’s eyes. “Please. Rob’s right, he’s dying.”
Sam dropped his head. “I know.” He took a deep breath. “Okay.”
“Put him in Dad’s old room, Rob. I’ll be right there.”
“Galen?” Rob looked at him.
“I need a minute,” Galen said. Rob met his eyes for a long time, then nodded. He offered a hand to Sam, the other man brushed aside the offer of help and lifted Dean up, then gestured for Rob to show the way. Galen sighed and followed them into the shop.
Dean was aware he was no longer in the car, aware that he was no longer on the pavement. Whatever the healer—had he said his name was Galen?—had done had taken some of the pain away. So, when Dean was settled on something soft, he sighed, the throbbing ache in his arm, head and chest eased a little more.
“Dean?” Sam asked quietly.
“I’m okay, Sam.” I’m lying Sam.
“Yeah, I know.” Sam’s hand covered his, his brother’s voice was full of tears.
“May I come in?” the gentle voice of the healer came from somewhere to Dean’s right.
“Yeah,” Dean said.
“Can I speak with Dean for a moment, Sam?” he asked softly. Dean felt his brother tense. “Rob is making coffee.”
“No,” Sam said, his voice harsh.
“It’s okay, Sammy, go get coffee.” Dean turned towards where he was sure Sam was, hoping he was still fooling his brother.
“I want to talk to Dean and give him a little of this.” Galen paused. “You can take a drink if you want Sam, it’s herbs, very similar to the ones you wanted, and a spell to help stabilize Dean before I heal him.”
“Galen’s not going to hurt him,” an exasperated voice said.
“It’s okay, Sam.”
“You sure?” Sam said, squeezing his hand.
“Yeah.” Dean smiled.
“My coffee’s pretty good,” the other voice said. “Not as good as Becci’s but hers comes with a view. It’s okay, Sam,” he said gently. Sam sighed, squeezed Dean’s hand one more time, and Dean heard him move away.
“Galen?” Dean asked.
“Yes. Sam’s your younger brother?” Galen said.
“Rob’s younger too, I’m not sure that will let them get on any better, but at least they have that in common.”
“Are you hunters?” Dean said.
“Hunters?” Galen chuckled softly. “Yeah, I guess, something like that.” He paused. “How long have you been blind?”
“Yeah, Sam said he thought you couldn’t see. How long?”
“Since sometime last night. I was watching TV and must have gone to sleep, when I woke up, I couldn’t see.” Dean stopped. “Can you help?”
“I’m going to do my best,” Galen said quietly.
“Very bad. Do you know what bit you?”
“No, I didn’t even get a look at it.” Dean sighed.
“I might have an idea.” Galen laid a hand on his head, warmth flowed out from the touch, taking a little pain away. “It’s old, very old.” The hand moved away. “I’ll do my best to help,” he said, his voice strained. “Can you take a sip of this?” The cold of a bottle was pressed against his lips. Dean took a sip, warmth flowed through him, making him float a little.
“It’s bad, I know.”
“Yes, it is.”
“Can you save me? Honestly?”
“I’m not sure,” Galen answered. “I hope so. And if not…”
“What?” Dean asked softly.
“I can stop it in another way.”
To Be Continued
Disclaimer: Sam and Dean and all things Wincester belong to Kripke and Co, I'm only playing with them.
This is a little different for me, some of you will figure out why with the first change in POV… This is something of a crossover, you see. I have tried to keep it balanced and focused on Sam and Dean, but…I also wanted to take this chance to introduce you all to Galen and Rob Emrys, “My” boys, and the stars of my book, The Legacy, Book One of the Custodes Noctis, which is now available on Amazon.com. The first two chapters are up on my website at muffymorrigan.com, if you want to peek. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for all your support and love which has kept me writing through a very rough year, and I so happy I can share Galen and Rob with you!