Dean didn't even wait for Dad to park the car, but flung the door open and rolled out before the Impala came to a stop.
"Dean!" John's angry shout followed him, but Dean ignored it, regaining his balance and running for the motel room. He would be in trouble for this, but it was better for Dad to be mad at him.
He unlocked the door and flung his gun onto the bed. Mud spattered across the bedspread. Dean didn't stop, but crossed the room quickly, his boots leaving a muddy trail behind him. He locked the bathroom door behind him and leaned back against the door with relief. He'd made it to the motel, and Dad hadn't noticed it.
The bathroom didn't deserve the name. It was tiny, with barely enough space for the toilet and the shower cubicle. There wasn't even a curtain around the shower.
Dean let his jacket fall to the ground, stepped under the shower fully clothed and turned the water on. Hot rain poured down on his head, seeping under his collar and down his back, soaking through the cloth. Black with mud, water swirled down the drain between his boots. Dean remained where he was, one hand on the tiled wall for support, his head down. He concentrated on breathing, battling the pain he knew he had to conceal from his father.
After a long time, he started to undress. The shirt first; he pulled it off, briefly examined the bloody tear in the wet cloth and dropped the sodden mess to the floor. There wasn't as much blood as he'd expected to see, and he began to think that he might actually get out of this. His t-shirt, also torn and bloody, joined the shirt on the floor and he kicked both across the tiny room. He winced at the pain as he knelt to unlace his boots. The laces were swollen with water and it took him forever to unpick the knots. Finally he got the laces loose and worked the boots off his feet.
He undid his belt next, pulling it out of the loops before he threw it away. The buckle hit the toilet bowl with a loud clink. Dean held his breath, sure Dad must have heard it, but there was no knock on the bathroom door.
He unzipped his pants and shoved them down over his hips. When he bent to push the wet denim past his knees, pain burned through him again. Dean grabbed onto the wall, gasping. He groped blindly for the shower controls, using them to drag himself upright. He kicked his left leg until he worked free of the pants, then stood on the wet denim with his left foot to work the right free. He was still wearing his underpants and socks, but he decided he would just have to leave those on. He couldn't bend down like that again.
Finally, he picked up the soap and began to clean his body. He started with his hair, which had been thick with mud when he started, from his long tumble down the slope. He worked the soap into a lather and bent his head under the water jet to rinse it. The water was cooler now, but not yet cold. Dean scrubbed his fingers across his scalp, watching the water spiral down into the drain. There was less mud in the water now and he could see the pinkish tinge of his blood in it, too.
Dean rubbed the soap between his palms to lather up and ran his right hand down his right side, angling his body so the water jet ran over the wound above his hip bone. It stung like hell and Dean stifled a moan, chewing on his lower lip in his struggle to hold the pain inside. The wound wasn't deep and he knew nothing vital had been damaged. It was just a graze, really, but it hurt like a sonofabitch. He bit his lip harder and forced himself to rub his soapy palm along the cut.
"Argh! Son of a bitch!" He couldn't hold it back this time.
Instantly, his father's voice came through the door. "Dean!"
Shit! "I'm okay!" Dean called back, and waited.
After a moment, John answered, "Sammy needs a shower, too, you know."
Relief washed over Dean. "I'll be out in a minute!" he lied.
Only silence answered him so Dean picked up the soap again and went on cleaning himself up. His fingers found scars from older injuries: claw marks on one thigh, cuts from a plate glass window on his arm, a burn scar on his back. He held up one hand in front of his face, examining the crooked joints where his fingers had been broken. This wound would be no different. It was just the way it worked. He got hurt, he always healed, and he was left with a new souvenir.
Except, this one was different. This one was friendly fire.
Dean turned off the shower just before the water went from chill to icy. He pressed a towel to his wound while he opened the medkit. They always kept two: a basic first-aid kit in the car and a bigger box which they kept in the bathroom of whatever motel or apartment they were living in. Dean unwrapped a sterile dressing and covered the wound in his side. He taped it in place clumsily. It looked awful, but it stayed put.
Only then did he realise he had no clean or dry clothing in the bathroom. He was going to have to get dressed in front of Dad. Dad would see at once that he'd been hurt.
Dean wrapped the towel around his waist, covering the dressing. He picked up his wet clothing, twisted it in his hands to wring out the worst of the water, then clutched the clothing against his side. Bracing himself, he unlocked the bathroom door and walked out.
"Finally!" Sammy declared. He was wearing pyjama pants and nothing else, his muddy clothing in a pile near the door. He had been pacing the room, and his bare feet were caked with the mud Dean had left on the carpet. He pushed past Dean, in his haste almost dislodging the bundle of clothing Dean carried.
"Water's cold," Dean told him. "Sorry, Sammy."
Sammy gave him a filthy look and slammed the bathroom door closed.
"What's got into you?" John demanded.
Dean couldn't tell him he was hurt. "Nothing," he answered sullenly, figuring teenage moodiness was the best way to distract Dad from asking questions. "I just wish... Dad, why can't we go training on a beach in California? Or the desert? Or even on a glacier? Just some place that's not a shit-filled swamp?" He saw his father's lips twitch and amusement glint in his eyes before John's brow creased in his habitual frown.
"Too many rattlesnakes in the desert," John answered curtly.
"No rattlesnakes on the beach," Dean riposted.
"You'd hate frostbite." John looked at Dean. "Give me your clothes. I'll hit the laundrette."
Dean froze. If Dad left, he could get dressed without anyone seeing his injury, but how could he hand over his clothes without Dad seeing? He crouched down, turning his face away to hide his wince of pain, and pulled his duffel out from beneath the bed.
"It's okay, Dad. The shirt's ruined anyway. It got torn up when I fell down the hill." Please don't ask to see. Please don't ask to see.
"Alright. I'll just wash the pants, then." John held his hand out for the jeans.
Dean held them up, John took them and stuffed the jeans into a bag. Dean stayed where he was, pretending to search through his duffel while John added Sammy's muddy clothes to the bag, then went around the room collecting the rest of their laundry.
Finally, John headed for the door. He glanced back, once. "Dean? Are you sure you're okay? You took a real fall back there."
Dean forced a smile. "I'm okay, Dad. Just bruises."
John nodded an acknowledgement. "Stay put while I'm gone," he instructed, "and - "
"Watch out for Sammy," Dean finished for him. "I will."
Finally alone, Dean got out of his wet underwear and dressed quickly in dry clothing. He checked the dressing over his wound and was relieved to find no sign of blood.
He would heal, just like always. Since the cut was shallow, if Dean was lucky it wouldn't even scar.
And no one but Dean would ever know how close Sammy came to accidentally killing his big brother.