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Title: Spring and by Summer Fall (God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise) Part 2a
Author: chartruscan
Characters/Pairings: D/C pre-slash, Dean, Castiel, John, Sam, Rufus, OMC, mention of Jody Mills, Andy Gallagher, Jo Harvelle, Bobby
Rating: PG-13 this part (R for language)
Wordcount: ~2700
Warnings:  WIP, abuse of Google Translator and Pat Parelli, also Photoshop (someone take the computer away)
Genre: AU, H/C, Whump
Summary:   He had never wanted his father's life of ranching. Years after returning as a former POW, Dean can think of nowhere else he'd rather be, and he'll do anything to keep his family and home safe.

Summary (Part 2a):   If Cas had stayed for dinner, he might have stood a chance at making it out of town.

The vandalism had started last June.  At first it wasn’t anything too malicious, a section of fence cut near a copse of trees and an unfinished twentyfour pack of Coors.  Dean and Gallagher had strung new wire and helped themselves to the watery beer later that night.  Then more fences went down and they’d spent the next three days wrangling the stray cattle back inside.  It escalated with the barn being broken into and twenty-thousand dollars worth of equipment stolen from it, and someone had taken a joyride through the hayfield on a combine until the clutch went.  Sheriff Mills still hadn’t tracked down the missing property or discovered the culprits.

Once the snow had set in the attacks had stopped.  Rain had had a similar effect during the warm season; whoever was behind the harassment was too smart to leave tracks.  But the last snow had been back in early December, which had since melted and refroze, and now the ground wasn't giving up any of it’s secrets.

Which led Dean here, bundled up against the cold, reins of the Paint wrapped loosely around one hand, black stetson pulled down low against the snowglare.  He rode with his hips tucked under, spine curved, hips rolling side to side absently with the gait of the horse.   A section of split rail had gone down the other night on the pasture where the horses grazed, and of all the damned hardheads to make a dash for freedom, Lady in White was the one to make her bid.  Rufus had spotted her outside the fences on his drive in that morning, and they’d spent the hours before lunch riding the entire perimeter patching holes, hoping she’d come back on her own by the time they’d finished.  They hadn’t finished yet, nor had she come back, and the sun was due to set in another two hours.

Dean still wasn’t sure if he’d gotten the better end of deal being sent out to track her down before nightfall.  Tate had always been superstitious about Lady and had headed straight back to the fences.  Jo was still shit at lassoing and had a way with the barbed wire that was frightening.  Gallagher was fresh-faced and eager, but he could barely keep astride a horse and had been sent to feed the horses and muck out the stables.  Rufus, well, Rufus had an uncanny ability to always pull rocks on Dean’s scissors.  He flexed his half-frozen fingers inside the wool-lined leather gloves and pulled the scarf back up over his nose.  At least if he had been hauling fence posts and stringing new wire he’d be warm, instead of slowly freezing astride Sheridan hours after the days warmth had already begun to flee.

He had reached sight of the country road and stopped to look around as far as he could see before turning around and heading toward the woodline that edged the drive.  Picking her way through the close brush of evergreens, Sheridan ambled along as Dean kept his eyes alert, trying to track everything.  He stilled her and listened, tugging his scarf down and wiping at the moisture building up around his mouth and nose, his breath puffing out white.  The horse whickered and shook her ears.

They had just begun to move again when Dean saw the white mare up ahead, just as ghostly as her namesake.

“Son of a . . .” Dean cursed quietly and urged Sheridan forward with a soft nudge from his mule deerskin boots.  He gripped the horses sides with his thighs as he used both hands to unwind the spare rope slung across his chest like a bandolier, keeping his movements slow and silent.

He was about twenty feet from her when Lady whipped her head up, ears turning towards him and nostrils flaring.  He stopped Sheridan and lowered the rope, ignoring the scratch of spruce needles just under his eye as he silently prayed for Lady to calm down.

Lady bolted.

Dean urged Sheridan forward, barely remembering to secure the rope again, cursing at the branches that snapped in his face.  For a heartstopping moment he was riding blind, arm thrown up to shield his eyes, heart and hooves pounding.

And then they were clear.

Dean and Sheridan halted on a hillock along the drive, knowing that Lady was long gone and Sheridan’s face was covered in needles and tiny scratches.  His heart still pounded in his ears and he shook his head, trying to dispel the thrumming beat and the irritating ticking noise underlying it.  He slid down Sheridan's left side and moved in front to inspect her, picking twigs and needles from the cheek strap with one hand as he rubbed her soft nose with the other.

He saw the tire tracks first.

They arced and crossed each other in a sort of crazy figure eight before disappearing across the now flattened grass at the edge of the river.  Dean’s breath stopped and he took a hesitant step down onto the drive, Sheridan following behind.  The ticking sound --not a symptom of his racing heart after all-- resolved itself into the ticks and pings of an engine cooling.  Dean dropped the reins and was running across the drive, skidding to a halt at the river’s edge and staring down in disbelief.

The van lay belly up, canted at an angle on the sandy slope of the bank, one wheel still spinning lazily.

Dean snapped his mouth closed and strode back to Sheridan, who was unimpressed with the whole ordeal and was nosing at a few frozen tufts of grass.  Cell phone reception was spotty at best out there and he grabbed the two-way radio out of a saddle bag, yanking off a glove to radio Sam.  He released the button and waited a minute before pressing it again and shouting, “Sam!  Pick up!  Damnit!”

Sam’s voice crackeld back a second later, “Do you realize how hard it is to reach this thing when I have no legs?”

There was an edge of impatience and frustration to Dean’s voice when he growled,  “Sammy, nine-one-fucking-one; try and get the damned volunteer ambulance, but in the meantime get Dad down to the main driveway with the flatbed and some blankets.”

“Dean, are you okay?”

Dean ignored the quiet worry in Sam’s voice.  “Doc's van went in the river.”

Cas’ scalp prickled with a warm dampness, starting at his temple and tickling the top of his head. His head ached, feeling stuffed, heavy.  He tried to pull in a breath and couldn’t.  He blinked and tried another breath, his pulse thrumming hotly in his ears and his vision closing in.  Everything seemed off, his necklace tickling high on his neck, just under his jaw.  It took him a disorientated moment to realize that the ground was on the wrong side off the horizon, and the blood was rushing to his head --and out of it.

He blinked again and fumbled at the seatbelt, taking another aborted, gasping breath.

It clicked.

He hit the ceiling in an uncoordinated pile of limbs and, after his ribs stopped screaming, dragged in a few shuddering deep breaths.  It felt wonderful.  He heard shouting from outside and the radio whined high before resolving into a staticy song about a horse’s green eyes turning blue.  He had never liked Johnny Cash.

Cas had meant to get the windows down, give a shout that he was alive, hoping he hadn't imagined that voice.

He never got the chance.

He shifted slowly on the ceiling, trying and failing to be careful of the throbbing pain radiating from his knee, down his shin, and up to his hip.  He flung out a steadying arm as the van began to slide.

Dean was finishing knotting the rope around Sheridan’s pommel when he heard a soft whisper behind him.  He searched around and down and saw the loose sand of the riverbank shifting and giving way, the van starting a slow but inevitable descent.  He watched helplessly as the roof hit where the riverbed dropped sharply.  The ice rimming the edge cracked underneath the weight of the vehicle’s slow slide, and the van tilted, bobbed out further, and began to sink.


His cheek was cold.  Cold beat into his temple, his ear, the bolt of his jaw, the corner of his eye.  Tap tap tap.  Cold struck his neck and found it’s way under his down jacket, icy searching fingers.  But his cheek was freezing.  He tried to flinch away, but that brought on dizzyness and nauseau and his face slapped back into the frigid puddle bubbling up through the cracked window.  Hazily he blinked open his eyes.

Water dripped onto him from above, coming through the slight gap in the passenger window.   The light was odd, like that first crack of sunshine after a stormfront had passed, the distant mountains still dark.  He was surrounded by shadow but that cold white light streamed in from above.

Legs were tangled and jammed under the steering column, torso twisted and flat against the window; his knee throbbed, backed ached, but now the water felt like a balm against his head.  Cas knew he needed to move, but couldn't remember why.  It felt good to be still.  Just a moments more rest.  He drifted, blowing skittering bubbles as the water rose slowly.  Pressed his ear further into the warm burn and listened to how the river sounded muffled and yet more intense.  Pebbles clicking, sand hissing; a hypnotic lullaby.

His eyes snapped open as a violent splash sounded.

With a final jerk on the cinch strap, Dean shrugged off his jacket with a "Fuck" and stripped down to his long johns and snagged his workgloves.  One hand on Sheridan's nose, a quiet murmur to stay put, and he was rappelling barefoot down to the sandy shelf, the horse holding steady up above.  Now there was some twenty feet of broken ice between the van and where Dean took stock of what he would be dealing with.  The van settled a little deeper on it’s side, black water churning halfway up and around the tires on the passenger side, lapping along the roof; he could see that it was already starting to spill inside.  The sun was lowering in the west and the temperature dropping fast.

No time to lose.  

Dean dropped the gloves and surged into the river with three long strides and launched himself as far as he could when he felt the bed dropping away.  Teeth chattering, he grabbed onto the back wheel well to keep from being swept downstream, hoping that the van was stable enough to take his sudden weight.
It held, but water was coursing over the hubcaps now and lapping in small eddies and waves around the top edge of the window.

He let himself slide with the current towards the front until he reached the door, then jammed a foot blindly at the submerged undercarriage, half-wishing he'd kept a pair of socks on for at least the padding, and hauled himself up onto the side, grasping at the handle to keep from slipping off.  The cold ached right down to his bones.  Rolling off the door and onto his knees, Dean tried the handle.  Locked --or jammed.  Cloudless sky and his own reflection glared off the window; it was open just a couple of inches, and he slipped his shaking hands through and shoved.  The glass bit painfully into the meat of his hands, exacerbated by the cold air and colder water, but he just gritted his teeth and shoved again.  The window gave a couple of inches, enough for him to get an elbow on it and force it the rest of the way open.

The van slipped deeper and the water rose higher.

Cas had listened to the hollow banging and rubbery squeaks, not really understanding what any of it meant.  He thought maybe it was a good thing, those noises. There was shadow, a shout of "Doc!" and then the light fell more brightly on him, along with a sudden waterfall that had him flinching and gasping into a slightly greater degree of lucidity.  He slowly got his elbows under him, muscles shaky and numb, and tried to lift his heavy head under the now constant flood of water.  It streamed over his scalp, down his neck and back, and coursed over his face where he could barely keep it out of the rising water beneath him.  

He had to breathe, had to move to breathe.  

The pain in his leg was a numb memory, removed and distant, and he managed to shove himself over, untwisting, shoulder and head thumping against the ceiling.  Through the cascade beating down onto his stomach and thighs, he could see a dark watery shape silhouetted in the window above him.  He blinked against the brightness, against the ricocheting spray, and finally realized that he was being asked to stand.  The shadow grew larger, filling that square of light, and a hand reached down, breaking through the water.  Cas raised a heavy arm up, and was struck then with the image of God's outreached arm, ready to impart the spark of life into Adam.  He almost laughed at the absurdity of it, the idea that God would touch him, but the bitter longing suddenly welling in him stifled that urge.


The van shifted again, sinking just a little lower, and Dean tried to keep his perch; torso half inside the cabin, legs splayed flat with the river now licking at his belly.

"Doc!  I need you to give me your hand!"  He couldn't see Cas clearly through the veil of water and shadow, but he didn't seem to be completely with it.  The water was absolutely pouring in through the window now, and even though the doctor seemed to have pushed himself into an upright seated position, the water was quickly rising up his chest.

"Cas, c'mon, give me your hand, damnit!"  One arm was bent painfully back on the frame of the window as Dean leaned in a little further, stretching his other arm as far down into the cabin as he could.  He couldn't see if the doctor was moving, and was already trying to figure out how bad an idea it would be to drop down into the van when he felt a slap against his fingertips.

"That's it, Doc, just a little more," he grunted as he strained to get a better grasp, finally locking his thumb around the heel of Cas' hand.  "Okay, I gotcha.  I'm gonna pull and you try and get your legs under you."  Cas' hand and then arm emerged through the waterfall, Dean pulling up until shoulders and then finally flattened dark hair cleared the flood.  "Okay, now I'm gonna need to you to stand up, just lock your knees and I'm gonna pull you out, 'kay?"

Cas lifted his head then, more of a barely controlled jerking up and flopping back, his skin deathly pale and hair plastered to his forehead, watery blood streaming sluggish and fresh down his left temple, cheek, neck.  Dean scooted back to get more leverage to pull the doctor up, and the light poured into the cabin once more, shining off the tunnel of water Cas was suspended in, refracting in wavy lines onto where their hands gripped, onto Cas' face.  He opened his eyes then, shockingly blue and clear.  Dean froze, locked into place, mesmerized, creeped out, something.

"Uh," he said.

Then Cas' eyes were sliding shut, his head sagging back, his body collapsing down. Then the van was being swallowed by the river, was tipping down, belly full of water, and Dean was swallowed with it.

Continue on to Part 2b
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