The Howling

Chapter Two

Sam

It was all Sam could do to remain calm while he finished the conversation with Caleb. Werewolves? WHAT? But my dream… No, it can't be, it was just a dream. He felt the panic of the night before return and concentrated on breathing deeply to hide his worry from Caleb. He'd think I was crazy, pretending to have some kind of dream about Dean dying. But it's weird… And I can't shake this feeling…

He quickly finished the call, then sat staring at the moon for a few minutes. It was just a dream. Stop being so foolish. It has nothing to do with Dean hunting werewolves. Fever makes people imagine all kinds of things, and it's not like I've never had nightmares before. He suddenly noticed that his hands were shaking and realised that the shivering was running through his entire body. It's just the fever. For god's sake, calm down! This is crazy! Unable to quell his panic, he reverted to the one thing that had always been able to calm him down, even when faced with the unnameable monsters they had encountered from a far-too-early age. He picked up his phone and called Dean's number.

And listened to it ringing.

And ringing.

And ringing.

Click. "This is Dean Winchester. If this is an emergency, leave a message…" Sam hung up, having no idea what kind of message his current state of panic might make him leave if he allowed himself to speak. Emergency? I don't know, Dean. Is it an emergency that I had a nightmare about you being killed by a vampire getting help from werewolves? And that you turn out to be hunting werewolves right now? He smiled briefly, imagining his brother's reaction to such a message. He'd say I was crazy. And I probably am. He's probably at some bar right now with a chick on his arm, getting ready for a night of fun.

He sighed, the thought of his brother prowling one of the bars that constituted his usual hunting grounds calming him a little. I'm sure he's fine. I'm just over-reacting a little. He took a couple of deep breaths, calming his wildly beating heart, then yawned. God, I hate being sick. Pain I know, pain I can deal with, but fever's a bitch, this feeling of exhaustion…Starting to sway slightly in his seat, he realised it was time for him to get back to his bed if he wasn't to spend his night on the floor again. He rose gently, remembering his encounter with the carpet that morning, and padded across the room to sink exhaustedly down onto his bed.

Before he let himself fall asleep, he tried Dean's number once more. When his brother still didn't pick up, Sam left a sleepy message telling him to call him back, then settled down to sleep. At first, he wasn't able to, the worry for Dean still keeping him tense and alert, but finally the long feverish days caught up with him and he fell asleep.

Two hours later, he woke up, drenched in sweat, his heart pounding as if it were trying to work its way out through his rib case. He figured it had been another nightmare but couldn't remember anything. I just have this feeling of dread… as if something bad's going to happen… I wish Dean were here… Although Sam might never admit it, Dean was the only one who had ever really been able to make him feel safe, the only one whom he believed when he said that things were going to be ok. He remembered countless night through the years when his brother had calmed him down after the recurring nightmares that had haunted him even before he knew the nightmare things his mind was creating were real.

One of the hardest things to get used to after moving to Stanford had been waking up alone with no one but himself to chase his inner demons away. He had even shared a room with another guy for a while, but had finally been asked to move because the guy got fed up with being woken up at night by Sam's screams.

Sam hadn't been able to tell the guy that most of his nightmares were based on things he had actually seen and experienced, nor that the worst ones were of his brother or father being killed.

Looking at his watch, he saw it was only 11 pm, so he decided to try giving Dean another call, figuring he'd still be awake. Dean still didn't pick up, so Sam left him another message.

"Hey, Dean, it's me. Sam. I, er… I heard you're in the area. Hunting werewolves. Uh. If… if you need a hand, call me, ok? Caleb told me you're on your own… Don't do anything foolish, ok?" Shit, I sound like a mother hen. He cleared his throat. "Just… Be safe, Dean, ok?" He hung up before he could say anything more. He feared that the disappointment and worry that the fact that he couldn't reach his brother caused in him would come out too strongly if he said anything more, and that was one thing his brother was never going to let him live down. He had been called 'Samantha' often enough to last a lifetime.

He's ok. He's just at the bar, picking up some girl or playing pool. Why can't I convince myself that that's the case? Why do I keep feeling this way? Trying to rationalise his reaction, he lay for a while thinking through the events of the past days, the things he'd seen on the TV that might have reminded him of werewolves and caused the nightmare. He had to give up, though, since the last few feverish days stubbornly remained hazy in his mind, consisting of nothing but unclear memories of being half awake watching TV, occasionally eating and drinking a little and staggering back and forth to the bathroom. But at least I didn't have to do a daily run like that time… His mind strayed to childhood memories of being sick, and soon after he once again fell asleep.

The moonlight glinted in the shiny hood of the black car as it pulled off the road and parked on the grass verge between the road and the dense forest. Dean opened the door and stepped out gun in hand. He walked to the trunk and opened it, picking out another gun and a handful of bullets. He stood for a second looking into the darkness that lay among the trees, then he squared his shoulders as if making up his mind before walking into the darkness.

He moved stealthily, careful where he walked, so as not to give away his presence. He followed a seldom-used path through the trees, stopping occasionally as if taking in his surroundings, checking the direction of the wind, making sure he kept it in his face. Suddenly he froze as he spotted a shape moving in the forest about 20 meters ahead of him. The shape moved slowly, noisily, seemingly bogged down by a weight on its shoulders. When the figure moved through a patch of moonlight, it was evident that the weight was a human being – dead or unconscious, judging from the lack of movement and lax nature of the body.

Dean followed, keeping his distance. He had to make a detour when the path suddenly took a sharp turn, picking his way through the trees to keep downwind from the figure. He cursed silently when he came across a shallow ditch and had to wade across. Afterwards he had to pick up his pace to keep his prey in sight, weaving his way among the trunks, breathing a sigh of relief when the path turned sharply again, giving him the opportunity to return to it, making his progress easier.

At one point, the figure stopped, lifting its head as if sniffing the air, and Dean instantly dropped to the ground, snaking underneath the bushes lining the path, trying to make himself invisible. When the figure continued forwards, he crawled out, rising slowly and pausing before going on, letting a good distance develop between him and the figure. The path widened and started going in a straight line, so he could let the figure get a couple of hundred meters ahead of him and still keep it in sight, as the widening path allowed more moonlight to filter through.

Suddenly the figure stopped and lay the body down on the ground, then slowly started circling what Dean discovered was a small clearing. The figure moved around the body on the ground, first walking around the perimeter of the clearing then going back to the body as if to check on it. Then it walked away again, moving back and forth, restlessly. It froze when the body on the ground moved slightly, then leaped towards it to land right next to it.

The person on the ground screamed, the sound echoing eerily among the trees, terrifying the hunter.

The voice was cut off, but the sound was clear enough to let the hunter hear the name it screamed.

"DEAN!"

The scream was succeeded by the werewolf's triumphant howling.

Dean started running towards the clearing.

"Dean!" Sam's call for his brother sounded almost as desperate as that in his dream. He woke with a start, his heart pounding so hard he thought it might be about to give out, and a blinding headache squeezing his brain, making him freeze in the middle of a movement, fearing that further movement might aggravate his head even more. He tried breathing deeply, partly to still his beating heart, partly to fight down the nausea that the terrible headache brought on, but he soon realised that he was fighting a losing battle on both accounts.

He stumbled out of bed towards his desk, reaching his wastepaper basket just in time before the meagre contents of his stomach made a reappearance. He gagged a few times, the tried to rise to get his water bottle from his bedside table, but the movement caused his headache to spike, sending him crashing to the floor as the pain blacked out all thought and he lost consciousness.

A few hours later he woke up – at least he presumed it was hours later, since the moonlight filtering through his curtains had turned to the greyish light of morning. He moved gently, remembering the terrible pain that had taken away his consciousness in the night, but his headache seemed to have receded to a dull throb rather than the white-hot agony of earlier. Releasing a breath he hadn't even realised he had been holding, he slowly rose and padded to his bed, thirstily draining his water bottle. Then the memory of his nightmare hit him.

DEAN! Oh my god, Dean! It was the same dream… If it was a dream, it felt so real… But how can it be? His hands started shaking as he remembered how he had seen the light go out in Dean's eyes the night before. No, no, no… It can't be, it can't happen, I won't let it happen… I need to find him, I need to get to him, I need to warn him.

He couldn't explain why the dream felt so real, he just knew that every instinct in him were screaming at him that this danger to his brother was real and he had to do something about it, no matter how firmly he had vowed never to go hunting again. He looked around for his phone, growing frantic when he failed to find it, throwing his pillow and the covers off the bed, his movements growing increasingly frenzied until he saw it lying underneath his bed. He bent down to grab it, swaying suddenly as the movement brought a rush of blood to his head, but gritting his teeth and fighting back the darkness it brought onto him. Then he sat down on the bed and speed-dialled Dean's number once more. Please, Dean, please be ok. Please pick up.

Again, no answer.

This time, it went straight to voice-mail without even ringing.

Dean? What are you doing? Why won't you pick up? Or… Maybe you can't? What the hell is going on, Dean? No, he might just be sleeping still…Sam flashed a glance at his watch, seeing it was almost 9.30. If he got lucky last night, he might be oblivious… Now that Dad isn't with him to thrown him out of bed if he doesn't get up himself… His thoughts did nothing to quell the worry that was rising in him like a flood. Or maybe, maybe the battery's dead. Yeah, that's probably it. Calm down, stop this over-reacting. Full moon isn't until tomorrow night. He's ok. He's ok, he has to be. I can't… Dean, please be ok.

Suddenly overwhelmed by the realisation of how empty his life would be without Dean, Sam tried Dean's number once more, and when there was still no answer, he didn't take long to make up his mind. I'm going to find him. He's somewhere in the area, I should be able to find him. I'll take off now, call Caleb, find out what area he's in, then call him later and meet up with him. I have to be there, if… if those woods are really real, if those werewolves… if that vampire…He shook his head, trying to convince himself how foolish he sounded, but at the same time his hands had already started packing his bag with the basic supplies he'd need.

When he was done, he called his brother again, then, since there was still no answer, he dialled Caleb's number.

"Caleb? Hi, it's Sam. Listen, do you know exactly where this hunt of Dean's is?" he rattled off once Caleb picked up.

"Whoa, Sam, slow down! What's going on? What's the hurry?" Caleb's voice was puzzled.

Sam took a deep breath, trying to calm himself before speaking again. "Uh, nothing, I just thought… I just thought, now that Dean's in the area, I'd seek him out, maybe spend a couple of days with him, you know?" Please believe me, Caleb, I can't explain further.

"Ah, right! That's a great idea, Sam, but I'm afraid I don't know exactly where he is. He just said he was somewhere south of Palo Alto, that's all I know. Why don't you just call him and ask? I'm sure he'd be happy to hear from you!"

"I did, but he didn't pick up, so I thought I'd see if I could find him and surprise him, you know?" Sam tried to sound light-hearted and excited.

"Yeah, sounds like a great idea, kiddo! But how's your flu, shouldn't you rather stay home and rest?"

"Oh, I'm feeling much better today. And I think some fresh air will do me good, I've been holed up here in my room for five days, I'm going a little stir crazy." Shut up, stop being so damn chatty.

"Oh. Well, I'm sorry I can't help you out. I'm not sure anyone but Dean and your father know the exact location. But I'm sure you'll be able to find him, his car is kind of conspicuous…"

Sam laughed, hoping it didn't sound too strained. Yeah, I'll find him. I have to. I just have to. "Yeah, I'm sure I will. Thanks anyway, and thanks for calling me last night, too, Caleb!"

"No problem, kiddo. Keep in touch, will ya?"

"I will. Take care." And that is about one of the silliest things you can say to a hunter. Next to 'be safe', I guess. Oh god, Dean, please take care, ok?

"You too, Sam. You too. And tell that brother of yours hi when you see him, and tell him he owes me a rematch. He'll know what I'm talking about."

"Sure, I'll do that. Bye!" Ok, stop talking, I need to get going now. He tried to still the restless movements of his leg as he finished the call. I need to go, I need to find him, I need to save him.

"Bye, Sam." Caleb hung up, making Sam breathe a sigh of relief, then he grabbed his bag from his bed and walked out the door, ready to start the search for his brother.

Praying he would be in time to save his life.

To Be Continued