Written for Wincest Writing Challenge prompt: fireflies
Link to AO3 | Rating: PG | Wordcount: 1,200 | Warnings: none
Tags: hurt!sam, protective!dean, limited POV
A/N: Thanks to @anotherwinchesterfangirl for the beta and being an amazing friend. This is really more of a gen piece than specific Wincest.
Summary: Nothing could be better than lying in the tall grass on a summer night. Unless you’re Sam Winchester. Then it becomes a matter of life and death.
At first, he wonders if they’re real.
Flashes of gold keep drifting in and out of the edge of his vision, sparks that weave through the crown of tall grass surrounding him.
Could be the effects of a concussion. Or maybe the start of a migraine. More likely, it's the fairies coming back to finish him off. The wind blows and the grass shivers, but yet no threat emerges, and the simple answer dawns on him - fireflies.
When Sam was a kid, they spent a summer at a Tennessee cabin. It was a rundown place with field mice in the cabinets and raccoons under the front porch, and it belonged to a friend of a friend of their dad’s.
Sam loved it. Probably because Dean loved it.
There was a stream out back of the property, with a little wooden bridge to cross, and every day Dean would try to fish off that bridge with a rod and reel older than he was, and every night the two of them would walk the rocky creek bed to catch fireflies. Sam would chase them with a net while Dean would flicker the flashlight up into the sky, drawing them near.
Dean cleaned out old peanut butter jars and poked holes in the top with his Swiss Army knife. “Gotta remember the holes, Sammy,” he said, showing Sam the lids. “Otherwise they can't breathe.”
This spot in the Appalachian Mountains on the Virginia border reminds him of that time. It didn't take much to convince Dean to take this case of disappearing hikers and get out of the Bunker for a while, even if he grumbled the entire three-mile hike from the trailhead. The trip was worth it when they emerged from the pines and saw the sun setting pink and orange over the still waters of the lake.
From where he lies in the grass now, Sam can still smell the tang of the nearby pines in the air and hear the water lapping at the lakeshore with the occasional fish breaking the surface. As the sky darkens from indigo to black, an army of frogs take up their chorus nearby.
But Sam doesn’t hear the one sound he’s been waiting for since he opened his eyes—the sound of Dean.
Hours pass and the temperature by the lake drops. Early summer is warm and humid in Virginia, but in the mountains, the nights can get cool. They packed sleeping bags and a small pop-up tent, but dropped the equipment at their campsite, which does him no good now. As long as the temperature doesn't fall any lower tonight, he should be okay, he thinks and wonders idly if Dean is wearing flannel.
The fireflies float back into his line of vision and Sam watches them as they bob about on the breeze above his head. Their movements seem less random now and studying them for a possible pattern gives his mind a curiosity to consider rather than his current reality. His dad said once that fireflies light up when looking for a mate, but Sam wonders if it's something more. Maybe it's just a signal to the others - I'm here and I'm okay.
He should be more concerned with his situation - he knows that. His legs and arms are unresponsive and lay sprawled at odd angles from when he was thrown to the ground. His thoughts are slow and a bit jumbled, but he is calm and there is no headache. His only concern is how he’ll get water if he's unable to move or if Dean doesn't find him in the coming hours or days.
The long grass off to his right side rustles loudly, and the noise gives him a first true moment of panic since waking up. If it's a black bear or a red wolf, there is nothing he can do to protect himself.
Dean's rusty voice calls out and Sam struggles against his paralysis to sit up, but his arms and legs refuse to cooperate. He tries to answer, but his voice is locked up tight as well. All he can do is to move his eyes to track the area around him.
The top of Dean's head appears in the moonlight, over the top of the grass, and Sam watches as his brother cups his hands and shouts Sam's name again. Sam realizes that Dean can't see his body where it lays like a broken doll by the tree line. His previously calm thoughts begin to break up into a warm stream of panic as he watches his brother walk in the other direction. They are surrounded by miles of wilderness and it will be hours before sunrise. Sam centers himself away from the panic, looking at the stars above.
He can hear Dean criss-cross the field, thrashing the grass and bushes, shouting his name out over and over, the sound bouncing off the dark sky to fall on Sam like rain. His eyes begin to leak tears and he focuses on his breathing and notices that the fireflies’ flashing lights are more agitated than before, as if they are in sync with the beat of Sam's heart.
Dean's voice comes back around, moving closer, and suddenly, he is on his knees beside Sam. Dean's eyes take in the lax arms and legs before his hands hold the sides of Sam's face. They make eye contact as Dean's thumbs briefly rub along Sam’s cheekbones, offering small comfort before he begins to triage other injuries, finding the pulse in Sam's neck and feeling down his torso for breaks or wounds.
When satisfied his brother isn’t bleeding out on the grass, Dean pulls him up onto his lap, cradling Sam’s head with a warm palm splayed across his chest.
“Can you move at all?” Dean asks and Sam blinks once, and Dean growls up at the surrounding trees. “Goddamn water spirits! I'll kill every last one of ‘em!”
Sam would laugh if he could. Witches and fairies everywhere seem to have it out for his brother.
Dean is scanning the field and wood, and Sam knows that he is calculating the ways to get them out of there. Sam can do nothing more than look up at his brother’s face, beautiful and fierce in the moonlight, and he thinks, well, it could be worse.
The fireflies are back now and seem to be circling Dean's head. He thinks there is a pattern to their movements, but can't quite it figure out. As he watches, a tingle begins in his right arm. At first he thinks it’s Dean’s tight grip on him, but soon it spreads to his other arm and down his spine to both legs. He wiggles the fingers on his left hand and taps Dean on the arm.
His brother looks down in surprise at where Sam's hand rests on his sleeve, and then squeezes his brother's body tight against his chest until Sam makes noises for air.
“Shit, Sammy, thought I was gonna have to haul your dead weight back to the car.”
Sam laughs and burrows his head back into the warmth of Dean's chest. “Not getting rid of me that easy.”