This ended up way longer than I was expecting it to be. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
It had finally stopped raining.
Dean was slogging through the mud, his shoes making a wet shlucking sound every time he took a step. Every inch of him was soaked through and shivering, and he huddled farther into his jacket, wishing for the hundred thousandth time that he had listened to that little nagging voice in the back of his head that had suggested he bring an umbrella, or at least a rain slicker. He had brushed the thought aside, figuring he’d be fine. Besides, hunting a wendigo with the extra indignity of a convenience store poncho? No thanks. At least that part was over with. And the rain had washed off most of the excess blood, which helped.
He squinted into the woods. The clearing where he’d set up camp was a couple hundred yards away. He let out a sigh, and as an afterthought, lowered his gaze to the single warm spot on his person.
“Hey, Sammy,” he said, poking at his chest pocket. “You still kicking in there?”
Sam was pulled mercilessly from his warm and hazy dreams by a too-heavy nudge in his side. He responded to his brother’s question with a literal kick, sending his foot sharply into Dean’s finger before scrambling his way upright. After a few flailing moments, his head popped into view. He blinked blearily in the sudden grayish light before turning a glare upwards. “What was that for?” he groused, rubbing at his hair, which stuck in every direction.
Dean didn’t bother repressing a smirk. “I’m doing all the legwork out here,” he replied. “If I’ve gotta be miserable, you’re gonna be miserable with me.” He watched Sam try to fix his hair one-handed, the other one firmly affixed to the lip of the pocket. “Here, Sleeping Beauty, let me help you with that.” He reached down and lightly brushed aside his brother’s tiny hand so he could ruffle his hair.
Sam yelped, batting at the unexpected intruder and diving back into the pocket, where he pulled himself into a ball.
Dean paused at the reaction. “Sam?” he asked uncertainly.
A voice floated up from the fabric. “Dude, you’re freezing!” Sam yelled, sounding absolutely affronted.
Dean just chuckled and pushed his whole hand in after him, prompting him to squawk loudly in protest. He gently nudged his fingers under his brother and pulled him into a loose fist, Sam fighting tooth and nail the whole way. “Chill, man, we’re almost there,” he told him, opening up his hand so that he rested on his palm.
Sam landed one final punch to the nearest finger, before scowling upward through his rumpled bangs. “You could warn a guy before going all Godzilla on my ass,” he griped. “Your hands are like ice.”
“Mi problemo es su problemo,” Dean said, lifting his hand to his shoulder so Sam could clamber off.
He grumbled a little more before settling in the crook of Dean’s neck and pulling the shirt collar up like a blanket. It wasn’t so bad up here, he decided. Better at least than the alternate bouncing pressure of Dean’s chest on one side and the cold leaching through on the other. He couldn’t sleep up here, for fear of being jostled off his perch, but it was cozy at least.
As he peered into the distance, he could only just make out the nearest trees. But as his brother’s vast steps ate up the ground, a small blue blur that was their tent came into view.
Soon enough, Dean was shifting to offer a hand, palm-up, for Sam. “Ground or pocket?” he asked.
Sam had ‘pocket’ on the tip of his tongue until he glanced down as caught a glimpse of the multicolored carpet of leaves. “Ground,” he said.
Dean raised an eyebrow, but obediently lowered him to a spot by his shoes.
Sam stepped off, perking up at the view. Underneath his feet, a sheen of rainwater glazed across an intricate network of veins, running through a kaleidoscope of reds, browns, and even a hint of purple on one side. He trudged across to a second leaf, this one yellow with delicate green edges. He traced the pattern, marveling at how the some of the smallest veins were even thinner than his own fingers, let alone a human’s.
He looked up with a start, realizing Dean was watching him. Said person had already pulled himself into the tent and zipped it up halfway. He was now laying down, his head on his folded arms, not two feet from him. He gave him a smug smile, which Sam returned with a roll of his eyes.
He continued wandering across the mesmerizing leaves, feeling as though he were in a whole different world. He came upon an acorn, hatless, marbled in umber and sepia. Laying on its side, it still came up to about his waist. He rubbed his hand across its surface, finding it strangely smooth. The usual variations in texture were oddly rounded. Even burnished metal had small divots and imperfections. He wondered if the rain had anything to do with it.
Meanwhile, Dean caught sight of the acorn’s missing hat nearby. He grinned, and in a quick motion, reached past his brother to pluck it up with two fingers and place it carefully on Sam’s head.
Sam was admiring the nut when a rush of color zoomed past and doubled back to settle something round and flat on his head. He reached for the sudden intrusion, only to hit Dean’s fingers, which were still holding most of the weight. “What the —”
Dean laughed aloud, letting go of the acorn hat as he shook, not wanting to bowl Sam over. Unfortunately this put all of the hat’s weight on the pint-sized explorer’s head, and he clutched at the sudden heaviness with both hands.
The image of Sam struggling to lift the hat off his head sent Dean into a second fit, leaving him to push the cumbersome thing off by himself. It wasn’t so much heavy as it was wide, more platter-sized than hat-sized, and it took some effort. Once the hat was laying stem-down beside him, Sam turned his darkest glare to his unrepentant brother. “What the hell, man?!”
“You looked like a fairy,” Dean gasped at last. “A teeny, sombrero-wearing fairy.”
Sam glowered. “Shut up and let me in.”
Dean let out a final snicker before sweeping him up in a gentle hand and pulling him inside, depositing him at his ‘room’ before zipping the tent behind him.
Dean had built Sam’s usual room from a few spiral notebooks relieved of their pages and arranged into the rough shape of a cube. The lack of a shelf was conspicuous, and he hadn’t wanted to use books, considering the unevenness of the ground. So far the notebooks were holding up pretty well, and even if they did collapse, Sam would only be left with bruises, instead of being smashed to a pulp. It was a two-person tent, so Dean had relegated his sleeping bag to one side of the fabric floor. The other was all Sam’s, except for the lantern, which towered above him like a lighthouse, spilling golden squares across every wall.
At the moment Sam didn’t seem too keen on his company, quickly disappearing into his notebook fortress with a final, “Jerk!”
“Bitch,” Dean shot back fondly, and settled himself in for the night, pillowing his hands behind his head. “Guess we won’t get to have that campfire after all,” he said after a while. “You want a marshmallow? I might be able to toast one with my lighter.”
Sam poked his head around the cardboard and considered for a second. “Alright,” he said finally, emerging to plop himself down within a safe distance, still wrapped in his blanket. “Just don’t set the tent on fire.”
Dean rolled his eyes. “Yeah, right. C’mon, Smokey, it’s a marshmallow, not a forest fire.”
Sam shrugged. “If I die a painful death by marshmallow, I’m blaming you.”
He smirked. “Whatever, Tinker Bell.” He flicked the lighter to life, spearing a mini marshmallow with a toothpick and handing it down to Sam.
He made a face as he took the toothpick. The marshmallow was about the size of his head, Dean noticed, and was briefly jealous. “If I’m Tinker Bell, I’m definitely the one from Hook, ‘cause I can kick your ass without breaking a sweat.”
Dean chuckled. “Sure thing, bud. Whatever makes you feel better.”
Sam huffed in irritation, but settled down to roast his treat. It quickly browned, and Dean pulled the lighter away. He took a moment to let it cool before picking it up in both hands. He decided pretty quickly that eating with his hands would be stickier than was practical, and resorted to biting into it like an apple.
Dean watched with some interest as he tackled the enormous sweet, munching through a few handfuls himself. Sam managed to eat about a third of it before leaning back with a sigh. “This thing is huge. You want the rest of it?” he offered.
“Sure,” Dean replied, plucking it from teeny, sticky fingers and popping it into his mouth. He dug in his pocket for a moment before coming up with his handkerchief. He dabbed a little from his water bottle onto it before handing it over.
“Thanks,” Sam said, trying to wipe himself down as Dean busied himself with making his cup of water.
Finally he felt clean and appropriately ready for bed.
Dean noticed him clutching the blanket tighter to himself as he trudged toward his makeshift room. “Hey, Sam,” he hedged, “it’s pretty cold out tonight. You gonna be okay?”
“M’fine,” he muttered sleepily. “Thanks though.”
“You sure?” Dean persisted. “After all, a camping trip isn’t complete without a sleeping bag.”
Sam considered that for a moment before nodding. “As long as your hands aren’t as cold as they were before.”
“How’s this?” Dean asked, putting out a hand for inspection.
Sam poked at his finger first, then pressed a little hand into the skin of his palm. “Okay,” he relented at last.
Dean carefully curled his fingers around his brother before carrying him up to his chest and letting him crawl into his shirt pocket. After a moment he carefully placed his hand atop the small body.
Sam snuggled into the warmth, feeling soothed by the heartbeat and the soft whoosh of air in his ears. “’Night, De,” he murmured with a smile.
“’Night, Sammy,” he answered, and turned off the lantern.