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By your side

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Run, his mind screamed, faster.

And he obeyed, swallowing his exhaustion, following the instructions that his tired brain provided, because those were the only thoughts he could understand clearly, the only ones which in his state of mind he could process unquestionably, but the action was getting more and more difficult to do with every step he took.  Everything hurt. His jaw was bruised and he could only see barely from his left eye, the other was swollen. His muscles ached in pain, a reminder of how weak his human body was getting, but there was nothing he could do because if he shifted now he was sure that he would lose himself into his own instincts of survival, and that was not what his family needed, after all, his brother was alone like him, running.

It was Tuesday, he sighed, why it didn’t surprise him.

He fell, his face crashing against a rock. He grunted and bit his lips in an attempt to not let a sound out while he breathed, in and out. He concentrated in his respiration as he heard the nature surrounding him, their sounds calmed him and help to stabilize his pulse; though he still could smell the ashes every time he inhaled, his lungs protesting with every breath. His ribs may be broken but they would heal if he gave them time.

A firefly flew close to his nose with his bright light, mocking at him as he remembered that November second, it was also Tuesday. He closed briefly his eyes and the only things he could hear for a second were the yelling of that day, he shocked his head in an attempt to clear it. It didn’t work and the light of the firefly he could see behind his eyelids wasn’t helping him to get a hand of reality neither. He squashed the bug with a hand and killed it; he stood up, ignoring how his body protested and his mind clouded. He choked a sob when he felt the pain in his ankle, but he was starting to hear the steps of his pursuers behind him again.

He applied pressure at his bloody side and continued running, ignoring the pain on his leg, knowing that if they were behind him it meant that they have left his brother alone. They separate paths an hour ago and Dean couldn’t smell him, which meant that he was far from him. That was a good sign considering the situation.

The wind was changing his course, helping him to gain a good step when he heard it.

A gunshot accompanied by a howl. A pained howl. It was almost a shriek of pain, the ones you hear when a wolf is close to death, a sound he could recognize everywhere. And not just because it belonged to his brother. He stretched his senses and started running towards the sound, his ribs be damned. His brother needed him. He didn’t heard anything, not sign of fight, everything was calm while his blood kept pounding faster against his ribs and he started feeling the changes of his body did unconsciously. He was losing control but he didn’t care, if this was the way he was going to get closer to the hunters so be it. And if he lose himself and killed the humans? Then he wouldn’t be happier.

As his form shifted into a canine, his senses increased. His sight, his hearing, his speed. This form had more advantages but it was also difficult to grasp his human mind without ignoring the instincts of the animal. His body enlarged even more as he let his emotions cloud his mind. He ran faster ignoring the part of his brain that told him to search for a cave to rest and lick his wounds, he focused more in the part of his wolf mind that was angry because someone was threatening his brother.  

But then there was another gunshot. On his already wounded leg.

He almost fell because of the pain, he turned his head and growled, seeing two figures coming close, luckily for him they were too far away, but their weapons seemed to have a large range as they tried to aim at him again. He almost gave up and decided to just wait and try to do the most damage he could to them when they got closer, but he could already hear the struggles of his brother, the pained sounds he made as he moved.  And he could also hear the steps that were following Sam, walking slowly as if they were enjoying seeing his brother in such pain. And the laughs. Fuck, the laughs were the worst thing, mocking at his little brother.

He moved, ignoring the whining sounds his throat was making. He saw the change in the surroundings as he started to reach the road, there were just small trees in there. Apparently his brother crossed the path to lose the hunters.  He limped as his eyes got too glazy to look, he could hardly see what was in front of him so he just followed the scent of his brother that was also fading. He saw a shredded t-shirt on the edge of the road, it was torn in a way that didn’t reassembled the large amount of shirts he tore apart while shifting, but he knew that it belonged to Sam because he saw him with it just an hour before.

It was a trap. Someone had managed to get close enough to take Sam’s shirt from him and placed it here to distract his nose. Dean growled but grabbed the piece of clothe between his teeth so he would catch a sign of where his brother was. He only knew that he was crossing the road and nothing else because of the whining sounds.

Dean put his foot on the floor to gain more speed, not caring if the damage on his leg got permanent, because his brother needed him. The baby brother he had decided that it was his job to care. The one who wanted to be a lawyer so he could feel more human. The one who just read and read and bitched when he turned up the volume of his music. The one who still slept next to him in his canine form when he got nightmares. The one he taught how to write and read and hunt and-

No more sounds, no more breathing, the familiar scent was covered in so many blood that it was getting hard to distinguish; the shirt between his teeth was the single thing that maintained his scent. The only sound he could hear was of the laugh that echoed from the woods into his ears.

He cried in anger as he jumped from the grass to the road, following the laughter so he could at least die by his brother’s side.

When he heard the car it was already too late to dodge it. The collision was the last drop in the figurative glass that represented his shattered body. He was too weak to try to put resistance as his mind slowly blacked out. The last thing he felt were the hands of someone on him as he used the last amount of energy he possessed to tighten the hold on the shirt.

_-_

“Oh, come on, Michael! You can be in that mood all the time.” Michael sighed as he ignored the urge he had of just grab the neck of his brother between his hands and-

“You’re thinking in how to kill me again, am I right? That can be healthy, you know.”

“For you, you mean.”

“Michael, stop bitching. You need to take a break once in a while, a vacation.”

“I don’t need it, Luce. And I can’t afford to make one either.”

“You’re you own boss, for fuck sake!” Michael was tempted to roll his eyes as his brother moved his hands in frustration.

“That doesn’t mean that animals won’t get injured while I’m gone.”

“Seriously, I can’t believe we’re even related.” His brother crossed his arms on his chest as he sighed dramatically. “It would be just two days; I think those beasts can go to other vet at least until you finish your vacation.”

Michael tightened the grip on the wheel. He knew that his brother was using those kind of words just to bother him, if his smile was something to go by.

“But seriously brother, you need to chill out. You only take a vacation when I drag your sorry ass in one.”

“But I accept in the end, don’t I?” He scoffed.

“Yes, of course. Just after I bitch for at least a week.” His brother opened the glove compartment and started to look the CD’s that were there, trying to choose a good one to play, but his frown was only increasing with every title he passed. “Seriously, I don’t know how we can be related.”

“Just chose one.”

“I would if you had good taste and listened more than this crap.” Michael sighed in exhaustion but smiled as he said his next words.

“Then we could maybe return until we’re better prepared and schedule this to another day.”

“You’re not escaping this, Michael. “ He scoffed but returned his attention to the road, ignoring the protesting sounds of his brother as he kept looking. “And I know you, so I know that even if you’re getting all prissy on me you really want to go to the cabin to enjoy yourself for a while. So drop the act.”

Well, in one part he had to admit that he was right, though, he would never say it out loud. He wouldn’t risk telling his brother that he was right in something.

Michael sighed once again as he turned his head slightly to have a better view of the forest on his left and enjoy it, because it was truly beautiful. The sun was already hiding and his light was lazily licking the clouds that were closer with orange colors, the leaves of the trees were turning green bright, and the light that reached the tips of the leaves emphasized the colors of the forest. As a soft wind brushed everything with gentle caresses, making the trees wave from side to side in what seemed a goodbye to the sun. The animals silenced like they were mourning the warmth that left.

Yes, Luce was right. Perhaps he needed this, to relax and just breathe the calm of the nature with his brother next to him like the old times. And he really loved that cabin; most of his fondest memories were gathered in that place. He could enjoy the quietness of it without mouthy persons trying to socialize with him; the good thing of his job was that he just needed little contact with others and more with animals.

“Aha!” Luce said signaling a CD of classic rock with a hand. “I knew that you weren’t a totally lost cause!”

“Totally?”

“Hey, I’m not the one with a stick showed up in the ass, brother.” Michael frowned at the choice of words.

“Stick show-“

“Your problem is that you don’t get laid enough, brother.” Lucifer waved a hand as he interrupted him.

“That doesn’t concern you.”

“Yeah, yeah. You haven’t had any action in months and it doesn’t bother you.” He sighed. “That’s why I constantly repeat how I don’t believe that we’re related.”

Michael was ready to retort about how he didn’t needed to change a partner every night like him in order to enjoy himself when he heard the first gunshot. Luce’s hand froze in the turn on button of the radio and Michael frowned in confusion because in this place hunting wasn’t allowed, so hearing a gunshot was indeed strange.

“Wasn’t his place-“ His brother started after the silence turned uncomfortable.

“Yes, someone must have ignored the-“ Another gunshot. Michael shot a glance at his brother and then turned his head briefly towards the backseat. “Luce, my cell phone is on the backseat.”

He followed his orders and grabbed the small bag from the backseat and place it on his lap, opening the pockets one by one.

“Wherein  the hell-“

“It’s in the inside pocket of the one that is on the front.”

“This stupid bag has so many pockets, why do you even carry this bag?!” Michael scoffed in annoyance but turned his eyes quickly from the road to see the bag and put his hand inside of one of the front pockets getting more alarmed as other gunshot was heard.

“This one.” He said as he threw the phone on his brother’s lap. “Call the rangers.”

“Why I’m not surprised that you have their number.” He returned his eyes to the road as the words left his lips, smirking at the annoyed look on his brother when he saw a blur that crossed towards the other side of the road, so fast that Michael barely got time but to step on the brakes and luckily he managed to accomplish it, though he applied so much force that he thought for a moment that he broke them. He turned the wheel to avoid the crash at the same time that the animal turned his head towards the lights of the car. And even with all he tried he couldn’t avoid to hit it.

He checked his brother first but the seatbelts protected them so Luce only had a panicked expression on his face, but he turned towards Michael and nodded at him. He nodded in return as he opened the door and got out.  He was getting more alarmed with every step he took as he walked towards the car’s front.

He hit an animal with his car.

His thoughts were rushing so quickly that not even he could understand what it was trying to process, the only thing he knew was that in the next second he was already on his knees, his hands  moving with expertise along the body, looking for injuries in what he could swear was a smaller animal from the one he hit. The dog whined as he touched gently his leg, noticing for the first time the blood pouring from the bullet wound.

He hit a dog with his car. Michael’s mind seemed to be in some sort of loop as it repeated the same words over and over.

He wasn’t the type of person who cursed but in that moment he wanted so much to do so. His hands were trembling slightly as he took quickly a handkerchief from his pocket and pressed a hand on the wound. He almost jumped when he felt a hand grabbing his shoulder, but when he glance over his shoulder he saw his brother next to him, looking directly into his eyes with such calm that didn’t fit the situation at all, though he wasn’t the one who hit an animal.

“Michael, breathe.” Michael blinked slowly at his brother but did what he was told. He knew what to do, he probably was the only hope of this dog to live and he wouldn’t ruin it just because he was panicking. He was a doctor, the one who was supposed to have his head cool in this kind of situations. Though he also knew that one of the problems he had at the moment was that right now he didn’t had any equipment to help the dog. Luce didn’t let him bring any materials related to his work when they were on a vacation, but it was also true that he had packed something the last time he came to the cabin in the case that some small animal needed his help.

With his mind already sorted out, he took a deep breath again and nodded at his brother for the second time. Michael lifted the dog’s leg trying to not pay much attention to the distressing sounds he made as he turned to see if there was an exit wound. The bullet was still inside.

“You drive. Let’s go to the cabin, I have some things that could be of help in there.” His brother opened the back door and helping him to move the heavy dog on the backseat to then ran to the front seat. Michael’s pressure on the wound never wavered as his brother started the car.

“I’ll help you. I promise.” He told the unconscious animal who just sort of growled at the movement of the car. He turned the dog’s head to make it easier for him to breathe while Michael checked for obstructions in his airway, when he found nothing he pressed two fingers on his elbow, sighing in relief when he realized that his pulse was still steady. Luce kept looking at him from the rearview mirror from time to time, just a quick glance with an eyebrow raised, concern evident in his eyes. Michael tried to give him a reassuring smile but he should have thought it better because his brother just snorted and rolled his eyes.

“You suck at giving smiles when you don’t mean it, Michael. Don’t embarrass yourself.” After that they didn’t talk too much, the trip to the cabin was quiet, both of them immersed on his own thoughts; the only sounds came from the dog and Michael’s calming words.

When they parked outside the cabin Luce helped him with every door as he also held the dog from his upper body. He cleaned the table and both placed the dog on there. The shallows breaths he heard worried him, he was also sorry that he didn’t had any anesthesia for him here, because it was obvious how much it hurted him.

“How bad the dog is?” Luce finally asked.

“Besides the bullet wound on his leg he has numerous lacerations all over his body, two fractured ribs and he’s slowly getting in shock. His pulse also started to accelerate when we moved him.”

“Woah. And he really looks beat up.” Luce took a deep breath before adding. “So what can I do?”

“Search for the second aid kid we have and bring me towels.” While his brother searched for the items Michael examined the wound on the dog’s leg, it seemed to be dislocated but to set the bone he would need his brother’s help because something inside told him that the dog would wake up and probably try to bite him, if he had the energy. Though he hoped that that was the case because it would meant that the dog better than he thought.

“I got it,” His brother came rushing to his side with a box on his hands.

“Put some gloves and press here.” He showed Luce the right pressure he needed to put on the handkerchief before grabbing some gloves for himself to slip them over his bloody hands to then sterilize the suturing scissors, which luckily were new in his package.

“Uh, Michael? The dog’s breathing is kinda weird. “ Michael’s head perked at the statement and went to the other side to look at the dog’s nose. Luce was right, but he couldn’t give CPR at the dog while he treated the wound.

“You’ll need to give the dog CPR.”

“What?” Luce’s eyes widened almost comically at his words, an incredulous laugh escaping from his lips.

“That you need to-“

“Oh, fuck. You’re serious. Okay, okay. I understood the first time. I just hoped that you were joking.”

“I don’t joke in this kind of situation, Luce.” He saw how his brother visibly swallowed involuntarily.

“You owe me big, mutt.” Luce whispered on the dogs ear, he then straightened and look at him in resignation. “Okay, but his mouth is too big how I’m going to…?”

“You need to blow from his nose the moment I take tell you to, but for now help me with the tourniquet.” Lucifer looked unsure but nodded. They positioned and then Michael worked with the leg.

He didn’t remember how long it took, it seemed like time moved slowly and fast at the same time as Michael took the bullet out and bandaged the ribs. He also had to cut some hair before he stitched some cuts. It was funny to see Luce’s face as he gave CPR to the dog, and as Michael suspected the dog almost bit his brother’s face off when he set the leg in place, though it wasn’t with as much force as he hoped.

It was dark when they finished with the worse wounds and Michael sent Luce to sleep because there was anything more he could help with, Michael kept monitoring the dog’s pulse and checking the serum he gave him every few moments, and by the time the sky started turning bright the dog’s pulse was strong. Luckily, Michael only had to apply one shot of adrenaline the entire time he was treating him; he had to give the dog one after he entered in shock.

“How the mutt is?” Luce asked him at five in the morning as he yawned. He sat on the chair next to the dog, he gave him a glance over and Michael could only guess how he looked. He felt weary but at the same time too awaken to try to get some sleep; his brother seemed to understand his mood as he just sat close to him and gave him a mug of coffee.

“He’ll live.” Luce let a relief breath at that, Michael couldn’t resist the urge to tease him. “Didn’t knew that you cared, Luce.”

“Hey, I put my mouth on his nose! I didn’t put my effort on that mutt for nothing!” Lucifer held his head high as he glanced away with a scoff, “And also, now I don’t have to end with you moping around because of his death.”

Michael sighed and rubbed his hand on his face, “It was my fault, if I had seen the road with more attention instead of-”

“Don’t beat yourself, brother. You weren’t the one who shot him.” Luce said with a sharp tone. And he knew that what his brother said was true, but what Michael did was like kicking a wounded puppy, quite literally. “I see your expression, Michael. Seriously, stop. Okay, look at it this way. If you hadn’t hit him, the mutt would be death because of the blood loss or something, don’t you think?”

Michael pinched the bridge of his nose and grunted.

“Yeah, yeah. I know how it hurts you when I’m right but it’s true, so suck it up.” Luce grinned at him but then stayed quiet looking at the dog with a thoughtful expression. “I still don’t understand why someone would shot a dog, I mean, they aren’t the kind of animals normal hunters would hunt.”

“I don’t understand why someone would hunt. At all. Period.” Luce scoffed.

“Yeah, yeah. Let’s plant a tree and all, but seriously, in this forest hunting isn’t even allowed and there are few cabins around here, and no one is close enough to the place we found the mutt.”

“I’ll call the rangers after this for answers.” Michael yawned.

“Yeah, I don’t think so.” Luce stood as he grabbed his empty mug. “Not even coffee woke you up. It would be better if I call the rangers and you go to sleep, okay?”

Michael wanted to protest, but he didn’t slept yesterday because of his brother helping him pack to this trip and the day before he only got a couple hours of sleep because of a surgery he had to perform. Perhaps when he called the rangers he won’t remember what they said to him the day after. He sighed but stood and stroked the dog’s mane before he started to walk towards his room.

“Okay, I’m going to bed. “ He stopped and glanced over his shoulder to glare at Luce. “Just make sure that you write down everything the rangers tell you.”

“Yes, dad.”

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