Master Post - Part 1
Sam nestled further beneath the covers as the gentle heat of the morning sun warmed his face. He fought against the pull of wakefulness, clinging to the foggy peace of the moment.
With a deep breath, he drew in Jessica’s sweetness. Her soft hair brushed against his cheek as she rested her head in the crook of his shoulder. Sam’s arm slipped around her, marveling at how perfectly her body fit against his and pulling her further into his embrace.
“Dude, get your hands off me.”
Sam raised his brow and chuckled. He rolled them over so she lay on top of him. She lightly slapped his shoulder, her laughter soothing an unease he couldn’t place.
“Sammy, I swear to God, if you touch me again I’m gonna...”
In an instant, the soft warmth was torn away. Sam bolted upright, his head glancing off the window. The car window.
Cool air rustled through his hair and the sun’s rays were filtered by dense stands of trees that flew by as Dean sped down the winding highway. Sam pulled his jacket tighter around him, glaring at Dean’s open window as he rubbed the ache from the side of his head.
“Don’t give me the damn stinky eye,” Dean said. “I know I told you to sleep, but you’re so not getting a happy on in my car. Especially not with me in it.”
“What?” Sam focused his eyes to see his own hand lying on the car seat reaching for Dean’s thigh and his brother crammed against the driver’s door to keep out of reach. Sam jerked his hand back and stuffed it under his arm. “Oh...sorry.”
“Whatever. Just let me know if you need me to pull over so you can take care of business.”
Sam glanced over to Dean, who was grinning. Rather than being annoyed, like he’d sounded, Dean looked more at ease than he had since before they’d started this trip.
“Yeah...uh, thanks,” Sam said. “But I’m okay.”
Dean shrugged and sprawled his legs back over the seat. “Suit yourself.”
Sam also settled back. Exhaustion had already seeped back into his bones. Even when he did sleep, it wasn’t as if he awoke rested. If anything, he just felt more rundown. He tipped his head back against the headrest only to jolt back up a second later when Dean slapped a map against his chest.
“You seriously gotta wake up because I think I took a wrong turn,” Dean said.
Sam sat up and blinked the last of sleep from his eyes. He pressed the crumpled map flat before he remembered where they were going. His brow furrowed as he shifted his gaze from the map that showed only one road to the endless stands of trees.
“How could you take a wrong turn?” Sam asked. “There are no turns.”
“It’s a figure of speech, dude. Obviously I missed something ‘cause the edge of civilization is a hundred miles behind us.”
“So where are we?”
Sam watched the passing road for any signs or landmarks. An old camper meandering down the other side of the two lane highway was the only sign of human life. Mostly, there was nothing but more trees casting long shadows around them and the occasional bird flittering across the road.
“Where’s it look like?” Dean asked. “We’re on the endless highway in the middle of the freakin’ enchanted forest dodging Bambis.”
Sam leaned forward in his seat and pointed to the right. “There. Up ahead.”
Dean eased off the gas as he searched for where Sam was telling him to go. As they rounded the corner a small, unpaved parking lot came into view. Dean turned in and shut off the gas. For a long moment he sat there staring at the rustic building in front of them.
“Ranger station?” Dean asked.
Sam shook his head.
“Okay…I give,” Dean said. “What is it? The world’s tiniest motel?”
Sam rolled his eyes. “It’s the general store. We’re just grabbing supplies before heading out to the campground.”
“And where’s the motel?”
“What motel?” Sam asked.
“The one with the cozy bed with magic fingers and the bar loaded with the hot chicks that we’re gonna hole up in tonight.” Dean glanced at his watch before scanning the forest. “Dude, we’re already losing light. We can’t head out to the campground now.”
“You want to setup the tent in the dark?”
By the look on Dean’s face, Sam wasn’t even sure he was speaking English. Dean raised his brow as if he was waiting for the punch line.
“Come again?” Dean rolled up his window before turning in his seat to glare at Sam. “When the hell were you planning on telling me there’s no motel?”
“I thought we could camp.”
“And I thought you were my brother.”
“Dean, what’s the problem?” The agitated uncertainty on Dean’s face didn’t look all that far off from when Sam had told him he had to get on a demon-possessed airplane. “Don’t tell me you’re afraid of camping, too.”
“I’m not afraid,” Dean spat. “I just don’t camp.”
“I thought you just didn’t like camping with Wendigos.”
“News flash, Sammy - no one likes camping with Wendigos. But Wendigos or no Wendigos, I don’t camp. Not on purpose.”
Sam didn’t care about Bigfoot, or whatever this actually was. He wasn’t even all that interested in hunting for anything that wasn’t Dad’s trail. But the thing was, Dean was right.
They had no leads on Dad and the man was a master at hiding his trail, even from them. There would be no finding him until he wanted to be found. And it was killing Dean.
Dean could spout his Dad knows best crap until he was blue in the face, but Sam didn’t buy it for one second. He knew his brother and he knew how much Dad meant to him. Sam didn’t know why Dad had left Dean behind, but he knew his brother was blaming himself for Dad going missing.
If Sam couldn’t find Dad, the least he could do was find an off the wall hunt to keep Dean occupied. Camping sounded like a nice distraction on top of that because it wasn’t something Dad had ever been big on, but he should’ve known that meant Dean wasn’t either.
“Have you ever even camped?” Sam asked. “And I don’t mean tracking through the woods and sleeping in those stupid survival shelters.”
“Living out of a tent is something you do when you got nowhere else to go. Dad worked his ass off to make sure we had a roof over our heads.”
Dean’s tone and gestures were adamant so Sam tried his best to bite his tongue. He didn’t know what Dean’s drama was about sleeping in a tent, but he knew one thing, and that was that Dad’s version of working his ass off was signing up for fake credit cards and getting his son a fake ID as soon as possible so he could help hustle pool.
Dean released an agitated sigh before relaxing back into his seat. “What kind of moron pays to sleep on the ground in the woods anyway?”
“This thing is attacking backcountry campers,” Sam said. “The only way we’re going to learn anything is by talking to the campers.”
“I got no problem talking to campers or spending all damn day hiking through the woods. It’s just the camping part of camping I got a problem with.”
“Okay, great, but it’s too far to drive back and forth between the closest lodge,” Sam said.
“Looks like it’s Bigfoot’s lucky day.”
“You just want to drop the case?”
Dean slammed his fist against the steering wheel. “It’s not a case. Dude, it’s Bigfoot! I thought it would be good for a laugh, but it’s not funny anymore.”
Dean might not be buying the Bigfoot crap, but it wasn’t the Bigfoot photos that had drawn him out here. Sam nodded out the window behind Dean. His brother narrowed his eyes before shooting a look over his shoulder. Then he turned around in his seat so he could look some more.
Dean only turned back around after the group of girls disappeared into the general store. “Only if they’re staying at the campground.”
Without another word, Dean was out of the car. Sam followed his brother up the creaky wooden steps and into the store. It was cozy, literally crammed to the rafters with everything from tourist shot glasses to hardcore survival gear.
Dean had already left his side to discuss bug sprays with two girls who kept giggling to each other. They were probably entomology majors. Sam did have to admit that no one had ever used bug spray quite like his brother had, but he was pretty sure that Dean had never used the stuff for anything other than keeping literal swarms of insects at bay.
He kept half an ear to the lame conversation so he knew what story Dean was feeding the girls and how he was going to have to play along. Apparently, they were with Fish and Wildlife today.
A few minutes later, Dean was back at his side, grinning like an idiot. “So I was talking to Heather and Mindy and...what is that crap?”
“Trail mix and granola.” Sam turned around to look at Dean whose arms were already full. “You’re getting candy, beer and...bug spray? Dean, we could be out there for days.”
“That’s why I’m stocking up. Besides, we’re not going to be out there that long. We don’t even have a tent and it’ll only take me a couple of hours to prove that you’re an idiot. These are for the road,” he added, as he reached past Sam and grabbed some individually wrapped fake pies.
“I got a tent.”
Sam motioned toward the dusty, orange vinyl bag he’d propped up against the snack shelf. The tag said it was a two person backpacking tent and it was probably a piece of junk, but it had a rain fly and would hold up for at least a couple of days.
Dean’s eyes narrowed. “We don’t need a tent, Sam.”
“This place is actually a rainforest,” Sam said as he slung the tent’s bag over his shoulder. “You really want to sleep under the stars?”
“I wanna sleep in a bed, but I’ll settle for my car.”
“The sites in the area of the attacks are walk-ins,” Sam said.
“Man, come on,” Dean grumbled. “I’m not going in without my car.”
“Just remember the girls.”
Dean’s hands were too full to hit him, but he shoved his shoulder hard into Sam’s. “Shut up...and grab me another bag of marshmallows.”
Hoh Rain Forest – Olympic National Park - Washington
Dean had reluctantly left his baby parked at the trailhead to make the short hike into the group of campsites. It was close enough that they could easily head on back to the car to sleep so he didn’t know why Sam was obsessed with sleeping on the ground in a tent that was probably moth-eaten on top of everything else. Sure, the attacks were happening at the sites, but they’d be able to hear the screaming from the parking lot.
At this point, he didn’t care what his brother was thinking because Sam was getting way too much amusement out of this whole thing. Dean struggled to remind himself that finding fun for Sam was the whole reason he’d come out here, while Sam was finding his distraction in laughing at him.
“Does this site have a better ‘tactical advantage’?” Sam mocked.
“Laugh it up,” Dean shot back. “You’ll be thanking me when you’re still alive in the morning. That last site was totally indefensible.”
“’Indefensible’?” Sam’s amusement faded as he began to watch Dean far too closely. “You really did go camping with Dad, didn’t you?”
Dean ignored his brother’s lingering look and paced Sam’s newest site selection. It was as good as it was going to get.
He admitted defeat and walked over to perch on top of the mossy, wooden picnic table. The moisture would soak into his jeans, but it he already felt as if he was wet down to his boxers anyway.
Dean dropped his duffel bag and took a deep breath of the crisp air, laced with the earthy scent of wood smoke. A creek babbled in the distance and birds were singing their evening songs high in the massive trees, which were draped with carpets of lush, green moss and rocked gently in the breeze.
It wasn't the serenity of nature that struck Dean. It was the distant voices of other campers. Kids were laughing, dads chopped wood and pots clanked while moms started work on dinner.
That was Sam’s obsession with this whole camping crap. People camped. This was normal.
His brother took a seat on the picnic table’s bench beside Dean’s boots and reached up to hand him a beer. “You have to admit it’s beautiful.”
Dean accepted the peace offering and shrugged while looking out into the darkening expanse of forest. It was nice enough during the day, but the game always changed come nightfall.
“Right until something jumps out and bites you in the ass.”
“That happens wherever we go,” Sam said.
“Why tempt fate?”
“It’s kind of what we do.”
“Yeah, okay.” Dean twisted off the cap to his beer and flicked it into the fire pit. “But remind me what exactly we’re doing here besides getting ready to freeze our asses off in a tent that you’re setting up by yourself?”
With a jacket, it wasn’t all that cold yet, but the cloud filtered sun had already dipped behind the large trees. The slight nip in the early spring air promised that it was going to get chilly fast. And pitch dark.
It wasn’t as if Dean was afraid of the dark, not by a long shot, but he knew what was out there. Bigfoot wasn’t mauling campers, but something was and they had to be ready for it. He hadn’t gone along with this stupid hunt just to let his little brother get torn to shreds.
“We’re staking out the area,” Sam said. “If there aren’t any attacks tonight, we’ll start interviewing people tomorrow and see what evidence turns up.”
“Wouldn’t evidence be back in civilization at the coroner’s office?”
“I read all the coroner’s reports online,” Sam said.
“Yeah, about that, can you even go a day without logging into that thing?”
“My laptop? Uh yeah, as much as you can go a day without caressing that stupid car.”
Luckily for Sam, by the time the words had left his mouth, he’d left the picnic table to start screwing around with the tent. Dean slid down onto the bench seat and leaned back, getting ready for a show while he glared daggers at Sam’s back.
“What I said about you living to see tomorrow...I lied. Don’t you ever talk crap about my baby.”
Sam shook the tent bag until the pieces finally fell from the tight sack and landed in a jumble onto the compacted earth of the tent pad. He pushed them around for a minute before shaking the empty bag again like he expected more pieces to magically fall out. He shoved his arm in to feel around inside the bag before dropping it and looking back to Dean.
“I just don’t think it’s healthy to be that obsessed with a hunk of steel on wheels.”
“Last warning. And, dude, it’s the American dream.”
“Dean, nothing about our lives fits the American dream.”
“Sure it does...”
Sam knelt down beside the pieces, sorted them all into something he seemed to think was a logical order and began constructing the frame. Dean leaned back to stare into the treetops, listening to the crackling of the nearby fires.
When Dean looked back to his brother, he tilted his head. “Are you building a tent or a boat?”
“They didn’t have the box anymore and there aren’t any instructions in the bag. How am I supposed to know what it looks like?”
Dean snickered as his academic whiz of a brother stared dumbly at the unpacked pieces of the tent. It was only a few minutes before Sam looked ready to take a shotgun to the thing. Dean would be more than happy to get one out of the trunk for him.
“You could help,” Sam grumbled.
“I could, but then it wouldn’t be half as funny.” Dean made a show of taking another long swig from his beer, but Sam looked as much helpless as annoyed. “Oh, come on. If you’re gonna freakin’ pout about it...”
Dean shoved off the picnic table and joined Sam’s side, but only because it was going to actually get dark before Sam managed to stick the A-slot into the B-slot.
“Dude, it’s upside down and backwards and...probably inside out.” Dean pulled out the wrongly-placed pieces of the giant dome Sam was trying to construct and started to re-assemble them. He pointed to the pile of Sam’s unused pieces. “Grab me those short ones.”
Sam’s look was indignant as he snatched them and handed them to Dean. “You couldn’t have mentioned that you knew how it went together earlier?”
“There’s no television. Someone’s gotta entertain me.” Dean snapped his fingers at the orange vinyl. “Help me pull the rain cover on.”
When they were finished Dean stepped back, brushed the moist dirt from his knees and crossed his arms over his chest as he stared down at the micro-tent. He glanced to the side when he felt his brother’s shoulder brush his. Sam stood beside him also contemplating the sorry excuse for sleeping quarters.
“Can we go sleep in the car now?” Dean asked.
Sam’s expression remained stubbornly set. “No.”
“Fine. But if you get all with the happy moans again I’m gonna feed you to Bigfoot.”
“Whatever.” Dean slumped back down onto the picnic table. “So you gonna make me a fire so we can roast some marshmallows or what?”
Continue to Part 3