Steps I: Step Into the Light
Dean was starting to get a little worried.
been wandering around these caves for what felt like hours now and he
had no idea where he was. He kept trying to retrace his steps, but he
didn't seem to be getting anywhere and Dean was kinda scared he was
going in circles.
He was taking a break, sitting with his back
against the rock wall and his flashlight turned off to conserve his
batteries when he finally caught sight of a glimmer of light way down
the corridor. He was up and moving towards it before he had time to
complete the conscious thought to do so. He made it to the end of the
corridor and turned left into another, more narrow one that was
suddenly very familiar. This was the path that led back to the
entrance, Dean was sure.
Dean was moving along it, heading as
fast as he dared for the way out when he heard something that was even
more welcoming than that -- his father's voice calling his name.
"I'm here!" he yelled back, relief at knowing
he was going to get out of here for sure because his dad had come and
found him for the moment overriding any apprehension he felt over the
fact that his dad was going to rip him a new one not only for getting
lost, but for running off and leaving Sammy at the Impala alone in the
There was a pause in his father's yelling and then,
"Dean!" even louder and sounding closer. Dean called back again, moving
in the direction of his father's voice.
It wasn't long before he saw first the bobbing light of Dad's
flashlight and then Dad himself came into view.
was prepared for Dad to come right up to him, maybe even clap him on
the shoulder if Dad had been sufficiently worried. He wasn't prepared
for his father to walk right up to him and pull him into a hug so tight
he swore he could feel his ribs creak. And when he finally let go he
kept his hands on Dean's shoulders and stared at him with an expression
that Dean couldn't put a name to.
"Are you all right?" Dad asked him, his voice strangely hoarse.
I'm fine," Dean replied, feeling slightly off balance at the way Dad
kept looking at him. "I just got turned around and couldn't find my way
back out." He paused and licked his lips before continuing. "I'm sorry
Dad. I know you said stay by the car with Sammy, but-"
okay, son," Dad said interrupting him, which was probably the last
thing Dean had expected to hear. "We'll talk about it all later. But
for right now we need to get out of here as quickly as possible." In
spite of his words, he seemed reluctant to let go of Dean. He finally
moving his hand off Dean's shoulder, sliding it down his arm and taking
his hand. "You stay with me," he ordered. "And don't stop moving no
matter what, you hear?"
Dean was far too old to need his father
to hold his hand, but there was something in Dad's posture, in his
voice that kept him from arguing or pulling away. So he simply nodded
his head and said, "Yes sir," and was rewarded with a squeeze of his
hand the way Dad used to do when he was young and in need of
"Good man," Dad said, giving him an approving smile
that was a little shaky on the edges in a way Dean was not used to
seeing from his father. "Let's go."
Not letting go of Dean's
hand, Dad started them back the way he had come, moving sure and swift,
Dean having to almost run to keep up to the pace. There were moving
with such urgency that Dean's back between his shoulder blades began to
itch and he wondered if he turned around what he would see chasing them.
made it to the mouth of the cave and out into the night. Dean felt a
weird, slightly unpleasant tingling go through his whole body as they
passed the cave mouth and he stumbled a couple of steps, suddenly
dizzy. But his Dad didn't stop moving, all but dragging Dean for those
few steps before he regained his balance. He did squeeze Dean's hand in
apology or encouragement before urging them on even faster now that
they had moonlight to see by.
Dad didn't let them stop until
they were a good deal further down the trail and the cave was
completely out of sight. He let go of Dean's hand only to grab his arm
again as if afraid if he let go, Dean was going to vanish or run off.
all right?" he asked again, searching Dean's face for Dean didn't know
what, but it made him tense up as if anticipating the other shoe
dropping right on his head.
But he nodded, his eyes searching Dad's face in turn for any clue to
what he wasn't being told. "Yes sir."
stared at his face hard for a long moment then finally seemed to relax
as he nodded and let go of Dean's arm. "Do you know how long you were
"I'm not sure. Couple of hours, I think? I lost track
of time when I lost track of the way out." Dean braced himself, knowing
this was when he was going to get the "I'm disappointed in you. You
disobeyed a direct order," lecture. Not that, in this case, he hadn't
But Dad just gave him another look Dean couldn't
decipher and said, "You were gone a lot longer than a couple of hours,
son. It's been-"
Dean had just started to turn in
the direction of the half familiar voice when he was barrelled into by
another boy, slightly taller than him, who wrapped long arms around him
and hugged him as tightly as his Dad had earlier.
"Sammy, let your brother breathe," Dad said.
Dean stared as the boy pulled back a little sheepishly at Dad's words.
Shaggy brown hair, puppy dog eyes staring hopefully at him, the wide
smile with dimples, those were things that Dean would recognise
anywhere. But this wasn't the almost 11 year old little brother that
Dean remembered. This was someone taller than him who looked to be
almost the same age he was. But at the same time it was indisputably
his brother Sammy.
"Dad," Dean asked faintly, "just how long was I gone?"
"Three years," Dad answered, and with Sammy standing in front of him as
proof, Dean had to believe.
hadn't been a cave, that had been the portal they'd been here to
investigate. The one that sucked people in and held them in stasis for
years. The one that had apparently sucked him in for years.
"Well crap," Dean said with feeling.