Wilderness, Nowhere

Fandom: Supernatural

Category/Rated: Slash, R

Year/Length: 2007/ ~3886 words

Pairing: Dean/Sam

Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit, only having fun.

Series: Western 'Verse

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Dean has no particular love for Lawrence, Kansas. It is one of what feels like hundreds of dusty, tiny towns that he has lived in these long years of his life. He has a certain fondness for Bobby Singer, for Ellen Harvelle and her kin, but the rest of the town means little and less to him. He would not be heartbroken to never enter the city limits again.

Sammy likes it. Calls it home and looks forward to returning there when the hunt wears him down. Dean can deny the other man nothing, and so they keep returning to Lawrence. Time and time again to the little room above Ellen's bar that Sammy calls theirs. It is where they run when they are hurt, tired, lost, and if Dean does not love it, neither does he hate it.

It is where they go after a demon possessed carriage driver runs Dean down in the middle of a town back east. Where they return after dealing with the haunted carnival that leaves Sammy shaken and reopens Dean's wounds.

Sammy cleans the ugly gouges on Dean's back and chest, the gash in his forehead from where the horse's hoof had caught across his temple. His hands shake, but neither of them mentions it. Dean just watches, puzzled and thrown off balance by the other man's upset.

Later, when Sammy huddles in the circle of Dean's arms, tense, breathing short and fast for all his insistence that he is sleeping, Dean finally snaps. Tightens his grip till he knows Sammy is paying attention to him and growls into the taller man's ear. "Talk."

Sammy squirms, fidgets around before finally whispering into the shadows, "What if they kill you to get to me? That's what they're trying to do, isn't it? I can't…I couldn't handle that, losing you. I'm not that strong-"

Dean cuts him off with his mouth, tongue and teeth. Grabs one of Sammy's huge hands, presses it against his own hip, the pucker of scar tissue there. Drags Sammy's hand down his thigh, to the thick scar where someone tried to hamstring him and missed. Back up his leg to the three indentations below the small of his back where a wendingo had grabbed and dragged him years ago. Up his back over bullet scars and lash marks, to the band of leather around his neck, a charm he's worn for as long as he can remember.

Rumbles into Sammy's mouth, "Creatures more foul than they have tried and failed. I am exceedingly hard to kill." Sammy groans, pulls Dean down to him, all hands and clinging skin and throaty desperate sounds.

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It's downstairs at breakfast the next morning that Dean notices the men. Two finely dressed men both far too engrossed in the week old porridge that Ellen kept around for those desperate enough to eat it. They're carrying guns, very well concealed and whispering softly amongst themselves.

Dean feels the hairs along the back of his neck stand up, and pushes Sam down into a chair with his back to the men. Asks while shoveling a spoonful of porridge into his mouth, "Your wife's people, they have money."

Sammy startles, stares at him with sharp green eyes. They don't usually speak of his late wife, in fact they have maybe twice in the long months that they've been living in each other's pockets. There's a long beat of silence before he answers, "They were people of means, I suppose. Why?"

"Heard of the Pinkerton's."

Sammy jerks, starts to turn and Dean catches his wrist, twists and tightens his grip until Sammy freezes. "We don't know they're here for you, Sammy, and they haven't seen you." He swallows another mouthful of porridge, motions to Sammy to do the same. "Eat. We'll ride out afterwards, fast and hard just in case."

Sammy scowls, but eats, fast and the closest to sloppy he ever gets, as though he wants to forget the manners that he's never left behind but can't bring himself to. Dean keeps an eye on the men, their fine waistcoats and shined boots, their hands, makes sure they stay above the table. They're almost done, almost home free, when Gordon Walker swaggers his way over to the Pinkerton's table.

The men look up with disgust quickly becoming surprise and Dean curses under his breath. The Pinkerton's and Gordon are all looking their way and Dean snarls at them while he stands, dragging Sammy to his feet. Growls up into Sammy's face, "Get the horses brought around front." Shoves Sammy hard towards the door and the man goes without arguing. He's learning.

The Pinkerton's are out of their chairs in an instant, heading straight for Dean's boy's retreating back.

Not acceptable. Dean rumbles his displeasure, grabs one of Ellen's cheap chairs and hurls it at the bigger Pinkerton, rushing them both. The chair hits the man in the head, cracks and he goes down screaming. The other man he catches with a shoulder in the gut, reaching down and grabbing behind the man's knees, jerking his legs out from under him. They land in a mess of limbs and Dean grabs for the man's head, bashing it into the floor till he goes still and limp.

Gordon is scowling at him, looking like he wants to start something but knows better.

For a long moment they square off against each other, Dean in a low crouch, feeling the thrum of aggression humming through his veins, Gordon wavering. Between them the two Pinkerton's are limp, either unconscious or dead. From outside, bleeding through Ellen's thin walls, he hears Sammy shout, "Dean! I'm here!"

Dean lunges forward, grabbing Gordon by the collar and driving him into the wall, bashing his elbow across the man's face till blood soaks through the thin fabric and spreads warm against his skin. He releases Gordon and the man slides to the ground, breath blowing little red bubbles out of the corners of his lips.

"Everything alright here, Drifter?" Ellen is leaning against the bar, half-smiling, eyes crinkling with amusement.

He shrugs, kicks one of the interchangeable Pinkerton agents in the head. "We'll be gone for awhile." He heads for the door, kicking aside pieces of the broken chair as he goes. The early morning sun is bright and warm on his face when he pushes out the doorway, finds Sam astride his horse Bill, holding Impala, anxious, by the bridle.

Ellen calls to his retreating back, "I'll hold your mail."

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Sammy doesn't ask where they're going, he rarely does. Dean appreciates that, he has never been capable of articulating his thoughts or plans or feelings the way other people so often do. Sammy understands him in a way that no one else has been able to, can interpret his facial expressions and mannerisms and body language.

Sammy trusts him, loves him. Knows him.

They match their horse's stride at a fast gait, Bill is almost two hands taller than Impala, longer and heavier, not quite as fast as the mare. A blood stallion, just past his fifth year, a calmer horse to match Sammy's riding skills. They've only had him a few weeks, and Dean wonders, sometimes, how they'll deal with it when Impala goes into season. He's not ready to lose his horse to pregnancy.

They ride north for two days, hard as he dares push the horses, stopping far away from any towns or farms, to reach the closest thick forest. Dean knows this land, memorized most of it in the boyhood he spent wandering alone, hunting things that no one else even seemed aware of. As much as Lawrence is Sammy's safe place, the forest, the glades and deadfalls, are Dean's.

He knows them well, but there are others that know them better, and for a half-second he wonders if he should have come here at all. But it is as safe a place as any, there has always been less evil in the wild places than where men tread.

They take their last rest on the forest's borders, under the heavy, watchful, boughs of the old trees. Dean breathes in the new-sap old-rot smell of the wood, presses his hands into the rough bark of a huge oak while tethering Impala and Bill to the tree. He wishes they could press further into the woods but dares not with night falling dark and moonless.

There is a press of warm, hard, body against his back, he knows the feel of Sammy's chest, the smell of his hair and skin, and so he does not startle. Looks over his shoulder to find Sammy smiling softly at him, eyes glinting in the darkness like a beast's. He slides his hands over Dean's against the tree, skin finally starting to harden as blisters turn to calluses.

The younger man's voice is loud in the quiet night, "You know, I never really saw trees till I ran out here," he pauses, breath warm and moist dancing around the shell of Dean's ear, "Certainly nothing like this."

Dean grins, pressing back into the other man's chest, thick muscle where once there was only softness. "Stupid fucks, the lot of you city dwellers." He never did understand the people who chose to live their lives surrounded by brick and steel, without being able to touch the ground or breath clean, unsullied air. It's no wonder that so many of them are victims of possession or haunted by poltergeists, or worse.

Sammy laughs, presses his cheek against the side of Dean's head, "I was part of a sorry bunch before you whisked me away to this life of thrills and adventure."

Dean feels his smile slip, thinks about the two Pinkerton's back at Ellen's bar, thinks about all the many and sundry things that have tried to kill Sammy these last long months. Thinks of the life that Sammy left behind, was chased from, and though he does not understand the appeal of it, Sammy must have. Surely he loved it, at least once, and his wife. And for that alone, Dean swears he will kill the demon who is after his boy, make it pay for ruining Sammy's life.

"Don't," Sammy's voice, low and rough, brushing through Dean's hair, even as he lets his hands fall to wrap around Dean's chest. Big hands, one pressed over Dean's heart, one spread low across his stomach. "I don't want or need pity, especially not from you, who has given so much for so little in return."

The bark is rough under Dean's palms when he pats it one last time, solid. Real. And then he shoves backwards, throws himself back on his heels, and feels Sammy overbalance. He twists, before they hit the ground, so that Sammy won't take the brunt of the fall, and then they're grappling, all elbows and knees, fast movements, blows pulled just before they would break bone.

He ends up between Sammy's thighs, one hand in his curls, keeping his neck pulled taunt, the other down Sammy's britches, fisting around the other man's erection. He murmurs, mouth pressed against the warm, beating pulse in Sammy's neck, "It's not pity." Dean feels no pity, not for anyone in this world, or the next. Such concessions were beaten out of him years ago.

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Dean wakes before the sun, sore and aching from the unforgiving ground, one side of his body cold because he dared not risk a fire. Sammy is curled around him, snoring softly, face younger and relaxed in whatever place his dreams have taken him. He balled his shirt under his head at some point in the night, and his britches are still undone, loose around his hips. He looks such an innocent that for a long time all Dean can do is stare.

The smile that crosses Sammy's face is sweet as an angel's, and Dean wonders what he dreams of that has him grinning so. He disentangles himself from the other man, stands and stretches, and then kicks Sammy softly in the side. The larger man murmurs, "Dean? C'me back to bed, Dean, it's too early, no one'll be expecting us to breakfast for hours."

Dean crouches back down, rolls Sammy onto his back and kisses him, hard and sharp till he feels the other man wake completely. Till Sammy reaches for him, wraps a hand around the back of his neck and traces his fingers down Dean's side. Till Sammy moans, biting at Dean's lower lip, fingers tracing the protective wards that Dean has taught him against all the skin he can find.

And then Dean is pulling away, Sammy arching up after him, trying to keep the contact. Sammy breathes into his mouth, words hushed and throaty, "C'me back to bed. Please."

"Later." Later, when they're safer, when he has the comfort of the trees all around them, silent sentinels standing guard. He jerks himself to his feet, and Sammy grumbles his displeasure before pulling himself up. There's no fire to put out, no ashes to spread, just the vague shapes of two human bodies on the ground, and Dean kicks and rubs at them till they fade to nothing. The horse droppings he covers with bracken, praying it's well enough concealed.

Impala shakes at the dew in her coat, nudges at him looking for either carrots or apples, and he strokes her neck in apology for not having any. Bill is suitably good tempered, and makes no protest when Sammy swings himself into the horse's saddle. Dean looks across at Sammy once they're both astride their mounts, "We go slow today, watch your footing or you'll break a leg."

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It's sunset before they reach the spring, hemmed in on three sides by cliffs, fresh water and food. Deer roam these woods, squirrel, rabbit, turkey. It is a good place, a place they can hide out in till winter sets in hard and bitter, if they need to. Dean prays they don't.

Sammy slides off Bill with a stunned look on his face, and then laughs, so sudden and surprising that Dean startles. Before he can even move to stop him the taller man is charging into the clear, still waters of the spring, falling to his knees and throwing himself forward into the waiting embrace of the water. When he breaks the surface a moment later he is still laughing, hair hanging in tight wet strands around his face.

Dean feels something twist in his chest, edging Impala forward into the water with his knees, leaning sideways in the saddle to grab handfuls of Sammy's hair and shirt and haul him partially out of the water. "What are you doing?"

There's still laughter dancing in Sammy's eyes when he looks up, and he grabs at Dean's arms, trying to tug him out of the saddle, "Do you know how long it's been since I've seen water like this, Dean? It's almost as good as the ocean, really, come on, get in." He tugs, again, hard on Dean's arms and Dean backpedals Impala, gripping his legs firm as he can around the horse's ribs.

He doesn't swim. It doesn't seem particularly natural, keeping your head under water willingly, especially when he's seen what water can do to a person. Sammy leaves go of him, eyes wide with surprise, and Dean walks Impala back to the edge of the trees, far away from the spring.

"I'm going to go back, confuse our trail as much as possible," no one should be able to track them by the time he's done, at least not without more time and energy than most are willing to spend. "You stay here and get this…" he waves a hand at the spring, the water so clear that he can see how very far down the bottom is, "this swimming out of your system."

He wheels around, moving faster now that he doesn't have to worry about Sammy beside him. He calls over his shoulder, "Make a fire, if you want." They're deep enough in the woods now that no one will be able to see the smoke.

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There's no sign that anyone has been following them, no broken branches, no horse droppings not left by them. He leaves false trails everywhere, just in case, enough bends and twists to give the finest tracker a headache. Just prays that they don't bring dogs.

It's nearly sunset the next day when he makes it back to their camp, Impala peckish from riding in the trees for nearly two days, worn thin himself from stress and worry. He reins her up beside Bill, dismounts softly into the carpet of dead leaves and broken tree limbs, scanning for Sammy. Finding first the remains of a fire, gutted out and barely smoking, a hastily put together bedroll off to one side of it, big enough for two as though Sammy had hoped or assumed Dean would be back last night. Sammy's clothes and boots laid out neatly on top of it.

No sign of Sammy, till the surface of the water breaks with a sound like shattering glass.

Sammy half rises out of the spring, hair plastered to his face, neck, shoulders. Water runs across his skin in a thousand tiny rivers and for a long moment Dean just stares. The failing sunlight catches on Sammy's water slick skin, turns it to glowing gold, throws the shadows where his muscles rise and fall into sharp relief.

His body is smooth and whole, where Dean's is scarred and battered, but the younger man is gaining a collection of his own war wounds. Dean's eyes catch on the pale skin below Sammy's left elbow, where a deranged preacher with a hook tried to fillet him, the five black spots around his heart where a woman in white had tried to burn the soul from his body.

Sammy's scars bother him far more than his own ever did. The younger man blinks, seems to notice Dean has returned for the first time, and scrambles his way to shore. Dean watches the bunch and flow of the muscles in Sammy's legs as he pushes out of the water, stands dripping and naked as the day he was born, grinning.

He is wonderfully formed, and it is not the first time Dean has realized this, but perhaps the first time it has hit him this hard. Sammy is all long legs and broad shoulders, bronzed skin stretched taunt over bone and hard muscle. There's only a vague impression in Dean's mind of what art is, but he thinks it must be close to this.

Sammy is still smiling at him, "Sure you won't jump in?" And for just a second Dean can see Sammy's body, floating face down, pale and bloated with too much water inside his skin, eyes open and staring at nothing while tiny fish dart around his face and into his mouth. He jerks himself, twists away from Sammy's dripping body, and kneels beside the dead fire. He says nothing. There are no words.

There are a series of wet, squishy footsteps as Sammy pads over to him, and then Sammy's kneeling beside him. His hand is wet and cold against Dean's face, big fingers slick against his cheek, lips dancing across Dean's temple, down his cheek, feather light. His breath, at least, is warm, "Dean?"

"I'll be checking for signs we've been followed everyday."

"Dean?" There's a strange note in Sammy's voice, and he shifts closer, like he's trying to steal Dean's warmth. He's wet, and naked, and if Dean wasn't still replaying the image of his drowned body over and over in his mind things would have already gotten much warmer. Instead, Dean rises abruptly, gathering some deadfall, throwing them onto the fire and attempting to kindle the blaze back to life. "Dean?"

When Dean digs in the saddlebag for the flint and tinder Sammy grabs him, hand like ice around Dean's wrist. He squeezes, jerks Dean around to face him, eyes wide and confused. Hurt. "Are we safe here? Is that the problem? Are they coming and you doing that thing where you don't tell me things?"

Dean grits his teeth, because he doesn't want to have this discussion, not at all. He grunts out, "No. No one's found us." No one will, as long as he can help it.

There's silence as Dean gets the fire going, till it's crackling warm into the rapidly cooling night air. It's Sammy that breaks it, the water drying on his skin, "What's going on, then?" He sounds tired, suddenly, "Tell me, damnit."

"Water." He waves a hand at the spring, painfully clear, "People drown." He remembers the bodies of those siblings down in Texas, bloated, dead. Their father, dead. To many people, dead, because they stuck their heads under water. He remembers a little red headed boy, limp in his arms as he kicked desperately for the surface of the water, no clue how to swim himself, trying to save a child that was probably already lost.

Sammy goes very still, and then he's pulling at Dean's shoulders, crushing their mouths together. His mouth is cool as the rest of him, warms up as Dean lets him press closer, hungry and wanting. Sammy's skin is cold, almost clammy, and that's so horrible that Dean can't even stand it. He pulls the other man to him, hands sliding over slick skin.

Sammy squirms against him, like he's trying to crawl inside his skin. Dean would let him, if he could.

The fire isn't roaring, it's not big enough to roar, but it is warming the air around them, sending smoke and ashes swirling into the night sky. And miracle of miracles, Sammy warms under his hands, till his skin burns everywhere Dean touches, flushed and sweating, moaning desperately. Alive.

Afterwards, though, it is Sammy who wraps him up in his arms, who tangles their legs together and holds him desperately tight. Rubs a lazy hand up and down Dean's spine, the other through his short hair. Rhythmic and soothing. Dean can feel his eyes getting heavy, feel the tension that he's been carrying around since that morning in Ellen's bar slowly start to drain.

Sammy is humming, softly singing snatches of lyrics amongst the soft rise and fall of sound. It's not a language Dean's ever heard, soft lilting words that all blend into one another. He mumbles into Sammy's shoulder, "What is that?"

When Sammy shrugs Dean can feel the movement with his whole body, every inch of skin that is pressed against Sammy. "Jessica used to sing it, sometimes. Her mother taught her, I think. I don't-" he falters in his backrub for just a moment, and then seems to catch himself, keep going, "-don't know what it means."

"It's good." It is.

"I'm going to teach you to swim tomorrow."

He does not ask how Sammy knows he couldn't swim. He doesn't protest, either, just shifts closer into Sammy's embrace, lets his eyes slip closed. Just says, "Keeping singing." Sammy laughs, softly, but lets his voice fall back into the flow of the foreign lyrics. Dean falls asleep, finally, to Sammy's deep voice flowing over words that neither of them understands.

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