NATAN (not-actually-the-author note): I, Woomie, didn't write a word of this BONUS chapter. Really, truly. My lovely beta and friend Janice got inspired and shared this fabulous vignette with me, and graciously gave me permission to share it with y'all too. Thanks, Janice. It's perfect!

AAN (actual author's note): After such a wonderful story, I just couldn't get Timothy and his friends out of my mind and this just popped into my head and wouldn't go away until I wrote it down.

Thank you to my wonderful writer friend Woomie for letting me hijack her account for a chapter!

Tag to The Gauntlet set several years later sometime between S15.19 and 15.20.

Dean scowled as he and Sam stumbled back into their makeshift campsite they had been forced to set up the night before when the wendigo they had been after for the past week had eluded them yet again leaving them stranded in the middle of the northern Idaho wilderness unless they wanted to hike 8 miles back to the car just to return the next day.

Today had FINALLY been successful and they managed to Molotov the vicious creature's ass after chasing it to hell and back through the thick forest, but not before getting tossed around and scraped up pretty badly. And just to add insult to annoying but fortunately relatively minor injuries, they were then covered in wendigo guts when the thing basically exploded all over them. It had been a long, hot, sweaty, painfully stiff walk back just to get back to their camp, and the sun was already heading down behind the not-too-distant mountains.

Sam flung himself down on the fallen log in the small clearing and brushed his hair back off his face with an expression of disgust at the combination of sweat, blood, and monster goo that coated every strand. Dean pulled out a bottle of water from his duffle and swallowed half of it before passing it to his brother.

"Okay…let's get this crap packed up and get out of here, Sam," Dean stated sounding anything but happy about the prospect.

Sam stared at him incredulously. "Dude, we are NOT going to try to make it back to the car tonight, are we? It's going to be dark soon, and I don't know about you, but I'm about done for the day. I don't think I can go another mile never mind eight carrying all this stuff. We've got a little food left and some water. Let's sleep here and head out in the morning. It's not like there's a wendigo we have to worry about snacking on us."

Dean looked around, obviously torn about his choices. "Man, you KNOW how much I hate camping, and that's when we are actually equipped properly for it. And there still could be bears. Or wolves."

Sam just stared at him not moving a muscle and waited for his brother to accept the inevitable. It was a look that had worked on Dean since Sam was about four and rarely failed him even now that he was approaching forty. He saw the moment Dean caved and gave in by the way his shoulders dropped, not to mention the heavy sigh and the eye-roll.

"Fine! But if we're staying here, I'm getting cleaned up," he insisted pointing towards the lake they had camped near a short distance away, the blue water visible through the trees. "And so are you."

Even though it was late afternoon, the summer heat still permeated the woods around them and the water looked invitingly cool…..and clean. Sam didn't need to be invited twice. He was on his feet and moving in that direction before Dean could grab the other duffle that had an emergency change of clothes for each of them in it.

Just as Dean was leaving the clearing, a rustle of leaves and flash of movement off to the far corner of his vision caught his attention. It didn't sound particularly threatening, but his hand went to the gun in his waistband as he took a few steps in that direction looking around. Nothing really triggered his uncannily accurate spidey-sense for danger, but it didn't hurt to be cautious. He caught sight of a squirrel scrambling up a nearby tree with a mouthful of leaves for its nest and relaxed. Nothing else moved in the area, so he turned and followed his brother down to the lake not sensing the well-hidden eyes that followed him as he went.

Sam had already stripped out of his disgustingly filthy clothes leaving them in a pile on a log by the edge of the water and was wading into the lake wearing just his blue boxers. Dean had a moment of panic and then sighed in relief when he remembered that he had worn just regular plain boxers when they had set out yesterday morning. He still had the occasional flashbacks to their epic hunt years earlier that had come to be known as "The Witch in Washington" and the moment he had had to shed his torn jeans so Sam could stitch up his leg. He still had not lived down the occasional reminder from his brat of a brother of his unfortunate choice of underwear for THAT hunt. Nevertheless, he couldn't help smiling at the memory of Sam's face when he had read "The man. The legend" with appropriately placed arrows and his ensuing laughter.

"Dude, come on. The water feels WONDERFUL," Sam called resurfacing after ducking all the way under to try and rinse the remnants of wendigo out of his hair.

Dean came back to the moment and quickly stripped down and joined his brother. The water was cool but not cold and did feel pretty awesome after the heat and sweat and mosquito bites and scrapes. He reflected that they very rarely got to finish up a hunt with something nice like a relaxing and refreshing swim in a clear mountain lake. Usually, they were either running to get away before the aftermath of the hunt was discovered or busy trying to keep one of them from bleeding out. Another memory of the days following the Witch in Washington hunt came back – the estate they had been trapped on for days dodging her menagerie of monsters was well-isolated and included a very luxurious guest house complete with a wonderfully stocked fridge. That had been a nice way to end a hunt too. He would have liked a nice guest house to go back to tonight, though. And those nice fluffy towels to dry off with. Camping still sucked!

They actually swam and splashed around and relaxed in the water for a while, feeling somewhat refreshed and revived after getting clean and cooled off. Once or twice Dean found himself scanning the shore almost certain he saw something out of the corner of his eye near where they left their clothes, but when he tried watching the spot without seeming to, nothing was moving other than birds rustling around in the trees and underbrush. Nothing seemed particularly threatening, but he suddenly felt the need to be back on dry land, dressed and armed….you know, just in case. He felt more than saw Sam look at him and then scan the shore where Dean's attention seemed to be focused. His brother moved up next to him, not tense but definitely more alert.

"What's up? Is something wrong?"

Dean scanned the shore one more time and shrugged. "No, I guess not. I thought I saw something through the trees, but it was probably just a deer or something. Still, it's starting to get dark. We should probably get back to the camp and get a fire going. I'm hungry."

"Of course you are. But you're right. Food sounds good. And sleep. God, it feels good to be clean!"

The two men waded out of the water, dried off as best they could, and put on the clean change of clothes from the duffle. At one point a soft chittering sound in the underbrush caught Sam's attention, but when he glanced over in that direction, a fat squirrel ran up a nearby tree onto a branch and scolded him some more from his perch. Sam smiled and turned to retrieve his dirty clothes from where he had left them on the log and frowned when they were on the ground. Shrugging, he decided Dean must have knocked them off getting his own stuff it and followed his brother back to the clearing.

They soon had a small fire going, and Dean heated up a can of beans while Sam dug some jerky out of his pack. It was an emergency rations sort of meal for sure, but they were hungry and ate in companionable silence and shared another bottle of water. If he was being honest, even Dean would admit it was kind of nice. Except he could never quite shake the feeling they were being watched even though nothing felt particularly threatening.

By the time they were done eating, he could tell that Sam felt it too.

"Something is out there," Sam finally said softly.

"Yeah. I think we've been watched all evening." Dean had pulled his gun out and set it on the log next to him.

"I don't think it's dangerous. It would have attacked while we were getting out of the water if it was going to attack."

They were both scanning the dark woods beyond the glow of the fire. Suddenly Sam caught the sight of a pair of eyes low to the ground reflecting the firelight. He nudged his brother and nodded in the direction he had been looking. Knowing where to look, they could just barely make out the dark shape of a small animal low to the ground watching them from the brush.

Relaxing somewhat Sam chuckled. "Just some little critter. Probably just curious. We may be near a nest or den. Maybe it's hungry."

"Yeah, as long as it doesn't try to eat US. We've run into some pretty nasty stuff that is pretty small, Sam."

"I think if it was going to attack it would have by now, Dean."

"Yeah, well….we're sleeping in shifts tonight anyway. Again," Dean replied with a resigned sigh.

"Hey, little dude! You hungry? Sam tossed a small piece of jerky in the direction of their mysterious visitor.

"Really, Sam?" Dean rolled his eyes, but a small smile twitched on his lips. Leave it to Sam to try to befriend whatever critter he came across that didn't actively try to kill them.

"Relax, Dean. Come on out, little guy. Or girl."

Whatever was watching them seemed to get bolder and raised its head sniffing the air curiously if cautiously. As the brothers watched, there was suddenly an excited burst of chittering that sounded strangely familiar, and a small dark shape burst out of the underbrush – no, a small PURPLE shape burst out of the underbrush and scampered across the clearing chirping excitedly. Dean instinctively reached for his gun at the sudden flurry of activity, but then stopped realizing what he was seeing. The otter-like creature stopped a couple feet away from them and stood up on his hind legs still sniffing and chittering away excitedly.

Sam recovered from his shocked surprise first. The rompo looking at him expectantly was a lot bigger than the youngster that Sam remembered, but there was no doubt in his mind.


As if that was the invitation he had been waiting for, the now full-grown rompo launched himself into Sam's lap practically quivering with excitement. Sam laughed and sank his fingers into the soft fur giving their old friend a hug. The rompo tried to scramble up onto his old spot on Sam's shoulders but seemed to realize that that was no longer as easy a perch as it had been when he'd been smaller. He settled for perching back in Sam's lap and rubbing his head against his cheek. Sam laughed again and looked at Dean who was watching incredulously as their little ally from the Witch in Washington battle squirmed happily in his brother's lap.

Timothy apparently noticed Dean watching and leapt over onto his lap giving him the same affectionate greeting. "So you're the furball who's been watching us all afternoon? What was with all the skulking around before coming to visit?"

"I wonder if he wasn't sure it was us when we smelled like ground wendigo," Sam speculated.

Timothy gave him a look that clearly said, "Well, duh," and then looked back into the brush where he had come from. Sam and Dean looked over with him and saw a few other sets of eyes watching them from just beyond the trees.

"So your family is all here too? You guys migrated a bit. Although I guess we are just one state over. Glad you all made it out of that mess we left last time."

Timothy purred seemingly in agreement.

While they were sharing a few more pets with their old pal, there was a little more movement in in the shadows and three smaller rompos ventured out cautiously into the far edge of the firelight. Timothy gave a sharp chirp that was clearly a warning, and they stopped where they were but watched still watched curiously. Timothy looked between the young ones and the Winchesters with what could only be described as parental pride before jumping down and herding them back into the underbrush. There was some rapid chittering and then a lot of rustling in the dark that gradually moved off into the distance as the rest of the rompos headed back to wherever their den was.

Timothy returned to the men and jumped back into Sam's lap.

Sam chuckled. "You've been busy, I see. They're adorable, but you're smart to not let them get used to us."

Timothy purred his agreement and curled his sinuous body into a little ball on Sam's lap as if he had no intention of going anywhere for the rest of the night.

Dean had to smile at the sight, but then nudged the little guy. "Hey, dude. Don't get too comfortable. We need to get some sleep so we can head out in the morning. You can stay or go, but we're sleeping."

"No watches?"

Dean shrugged. "We're both exhausted. Our mystery visitor turned out to be friendly. There haven't been any reports of wild animal attacks in this area, you know, aside from the wendigo. Let's just sleep, man."

Sam nodded, and the last thing he felt as he was drifting off on his bedroll was a warm, soft length of rompo cuddling up against his back.