Rating: T (for language and ickiness)
Characters: Sam, Dean
Genre: Gen, horror, hurt/comfort
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural except in my dreams where schmoop abounds.
Warnings: Spoilers for season 6 through 6.13 – Unforgiven. Also, big-time warning for arachnophobia. Seriously, if spiders are a problem for you, please steer clear of this story.
Word Count: ~4,000
Summary: This ficlet was written for a prompt over at hoodie_time's Dean-Focused Hurt/Comfort Comment Fic Meme (#6) by Gambitmoon – Dean is taken by a shapeshifter or something else that needs him alive to maintain shape (ie by taking blood from Dean.) I would love if he was rescued by Sam but needs carried out as he's so exhausted and aching. Would love a bit of guilt from Sam for not realizing sooner! So replace the shapeshifter with a GIANT SPIDER and you get this fic.
A/N: Thank you to nwspaprtaxis for the amazing beta. She went way above and beyond anything I could have hoped for. This story is so much better due to her influence. I fiddled around with it after she gave it back to me so any and all errors are mine and mine alone. Also, it's her birthday today. Happy Birthday! You Rock!
Eight is Enough
It can't take on a human shape. At least not as far as he's seen so far and that's how he knows it's not another Arachne like the one they hunted in Rhode Island right after Sam got resouled.
No, it's just a big ass spider. A big ass, hairy-as-shit spider.
Dean can see the hulking shape of the spider-creature on the opposite side of the old-fashioned, one-room church where it appears to be guarding the only door in or out. Its body is easily the size of a Great Dane not counting the gargantuan legs. In the light cast from the flickering bulb above the pulpit, the white of its venom-laced fangs glisten and the deep ebony of its eyes glint maliciously. Its legs are drawn up close together as though it's getting ready to spring forward at any moment.
Not the type of creature anyone should try to take on solo, as it turns out. In hindsight, the whole splitting up thing? Not the most brilliant idea. Backup would really be awesome right about now.
Without taking his eyes off the gigantic spider, Dean slowly and carefully reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out his cell. No sudden movements. Hitting the first button on speed dial, he waits for his brother to pick up.
"Dean, hey. I think I know what we're dealing with here." Sam's first words upon answering are happy, excited even. Blissfully unconcerned.
Dean really hates to put a damper on Sam's good mood.
"Yeah, I might have found a clue or two at the church too." More like eight, Dean thinks as he watches one of the creature's legs twitch and its fangs rub together in what he can only suppose is anticipation. But he keeps all that to himself for now. He'll get to the punch line soon enough. Sammy has always enjoyed the big reveal so he'll let Sam have his fun. Another couple seconds isn't going to make that much of a difference at this point.
"It's a Kwaku. There's a ton of lore about them living in the forests of the Congo. Who knows how it got to Willow Valley, Arizona, but I'm pretty sure that's what's been tearing the flesh off local livestock." The triumphant tone in Sam's voice is all Dean needs to hear. He touches the gaping wound in his thigh with numb, tingling fingers and ghosts his hand over the bloody hole in his jeans. Now might be a good time to let Sam in on the joke.
He pitches his voice low and steady. No sense in spooking either the monster spider or his brother. "Are we talking eight legs, eight eyes and about as big as a Volkswagen? That kind of Kwaku?"
"Yeah, a spider god, how'd you know?"
The monster spider – Kwaku, whatever – crouches lower, almost vibrating with its apparent intent to pounce, and Dean's mouth goes dry. His time is running out. It's either now or never. He takes a deep breath, but is hit with a wave of disorienting dizziness and forgets what he was going to say. His legs fold underneath him and he slides down the wall he's leaning against.
Into the silence, Sam's voice growls, "You're looking at it right now, aren't you?"
"Yeah, about that Sammy…the sooner you can get here the better." The twin puncture marks in his shoulder throb and his vision goes a tad blurry around the edges. "Hey Sam, what does Kwaku venom do anyway?"
"Dean?" His brother's voice has gone all panicky and far-away sounding and Dean isn't sure why until he realizes the hand he's holding his cell with has fallen from his ear and landed on his chest.
For the first time since being attacked by the monster spider, Dean takes his eyes off it to gaze in bemused wonder at his phone. "Huh," he says sleepily. "I guess you don't really need to answer that." The words, breathy and slurred, don't sound like anything that could possibly have come out of his mouth and Dean isn't really sure what more there is to say anyway so he turns his fading scrutiny back to the Kwaku.
His renewed attention seems to be some sort of catalyst because the giant arachnid taps the claws of one foot on the stone floor and then jumps straight up as though it has the body mass of a butterfly instead of a horse. Dean tracks the creature as it comes to a landing, straddling his hips with four of its overgrown legs on one side of Dean's body and four on the other, its hairy face way too up close and personal.
Makes him think of Cas and the angel's total disregard for personal space boundaries for just a second. But wait, why is he thinking about Cas at a time like this?
Now would be a really great time to have his gun drawn. Too bad the Kwaku knocked it out of his hand right before chomping down on his shoulder. His gaze slides to where his weapon lies about twenty yards away, under a pew.
There is something to be said for attaching their weapons to their sleeves with bungee cords.
Okay, that's random.
He needs to pull himself together, stop drifting, and deal with the matter at hand. The matter at hand being the gigantic fucking spider sitting on his chest.
Its fangs, curved and as sharp as daggers, are mere inches from his throat, all eight of its ice-cold, glittering eyes seem to be boring right through him. He now knows much more about spider anatomy than he ever cared to.
With all the strength he can muster, he puts his hands up to push the creature's face away. "You should know, I don't put out on the first date." In direct contrast to his nearly inaudible words, the kick-ass shove he was going for is more of a caress. The long, coarse hairs on the spider's head are rough and thick like the bristles of a broom as they slip through his fingers.
To his utter disgust, the arachnid lowers its abdomen and something white and sticky shoots out of its butt, attaching to his shins, coating his ankles, and trapping his legs. As unimpressive as his struggling is, the Kwaku seems to take it as a personal insult and sinks its fangs once more into the flesh of his pectoral muscle, injecting more venom just above his heart.
The world grays out.
Spider's like to keep their prey alive while they feed. On some level Dean knows this, probably heard it on one of those nature documentaries Sammy used to love so much when he was a kid.
The Kwaku's venom leaves him aware of his surroundings, but too drowsy and complacent to do much except watch with a lazy indifference.
He feels the spider's legs grab a hold of him, flipping him over, turning him around and around. The sticky netting keeps coming until he's completely cocooned in it from the bottoms of his feet all the way to his neck. The monster spider leaves his face exposed, for what reason Dean doesn't care to guess.
In a disconnected and vague way, he wonders if the webbing is tight enough to bind the deep wound in his thigh.
Making a delighted, chittering sound with its mandibles, the Kwaku hooks the claws of its front two legs into the cocoon and uses the other four to scurry into the darkest corner of the chapel where it begins climbing, dragging Dean along with it. Vertigo pulls a groan from him as he is carried higher and higher.
Once it gets him to the highest point in the rafters, the Kwaku turns him upside down and adheres his feet to one of the rough-hewn crossbeams with a massive glob of thick webbing.
A scratching, rustling sound, like rats scampering inside the walls of an abandoned building, draws his attention to the cottony sack hanging next to him. The sticky material looks a lot like the stuff he's encased in and at first he thinks the Kwaku has another victim strung up next to him. There's too much noise though, overlapping sounds of numerous claws scraping and raking at the inside of the bag, for it all to be made by one human victim, no matter how desperate to get free they might be.
Using one hairy leg, the Kwaku traces a pattern over the outside of the sack and Dean swears the creature is petting it lovingly.
But it's okay because Sam is going to be here soon. Sam knows where he is and even though Dean took the Impala after dropping Sam off with his laptop to interview witnesses and do some research at the farm, nothing will keep Sam from busting in the church door any moment now.
Any moment now.
What blood isn't soaking through his jeans is currently all rushing to his head. Dean feels lightheaded from the combination of the venom flowing through his veins, blood loss, and a sickening sense of vertigo. Everything looks distorted and blurry. Also, the floor is really, really far below him and he's not all that terribly fond of heights. So that's fun.
Hanging upside down sucks.
Still, Sam is coming so there's no need to worry about what's in that sack or how much blood he's lost or anything else for that matter. Sam's going to arrive just in the nick of time and then Dean will give him a heap of shit for not getting here earlier and Sam will feel guilty. Yeah, that's what's going to happen.
Any moment now.
The sack begins to sway and the Kwaku chitters encouragingly, rubbing its front appendages rapidly together as though applauding.
Lethargic swaying graduates to gentle swinging and finally to erratic jiggling as the noise inside the sack gets more frantic.
Dean's vision tunnels. He blinks, trying to bring his eyesight back into focus, willing himself not to pass out. This is so not the time to pass out. In fact, passing out is never a very good strategy. But that's not the point.
What is the point?
Concentrate goddamn it, Dean berates the fog that's keeping him from forming a lucid thought. The point is that passing out right now would be extraordinarily bad.
The first leg emerges from the sack quickly followed by another and another until an entire spiderling has crawled onto the outside of what Dean realizes is an egg sac. It's as big as his hand and Dean has a really bad feeling about this. The Kwaku hatchling flexes its legs, taps its front claws once and jumps. It lands on Dean's face, legs splayed wide. He gets a mouthful of spiky briskles as one twitching appendage wiggles its way past his lips.
Then again, passing out is beginning to sound like a pretty solid plan.
He spits and chokes, purses his lips into an impenetrable barrier and refuses to take a breath. His heart pounds harder, stubbornly trying to pump enough adrenaline to fight off the effects of the Kwaku venom, forcing his body and mind to kick into gear.
The shake of his head, meant to dislodge the plump body and hairy legs, serves only to cause the hatchling to skitter over his chin to his neck, where it burrows under the cocoon to nestle tight against his collarbone.
To his utter horror, teeth or fangs dig into his skin and latch on. It's not a subduing bite like the ones the adult Kwaku had given him. No, the bloodsucker is feeding off him. The searing pain causes his muscles to clench. He desperately wants to get it off, get it off, get it off. He thrashes within his bindings, but the cocoon holds him tight.
Through the gap in the egg sac comes a second set of legs and then a third until they're spewing forth like lava from an erupting volcano. There are so many, he can't count them all.
The adult Kwaku shifts on the beam above him, tapping one long appendage on Dean's silk-wrapped legs in invitation. Responding to either the sound or the vibration of the call to chow down, the hatchlings begin to swarm over him in droves.
They're poking at his eyes, crawling in his ears, rubbing against his cheeks, and biting, biting, biting. Constantly biting. Administering jolt after jolt of scorching hot agony. He arches his back and struggles as much as the constricting mesh will allow. A scream punches out of his straining lungs, ripping through his throat and using all his oxygen, leaving him gasping and spent.
His consciousness ebbs as his body goes into pure survival mode, shutting down all but critical functions. A cold, clammy sweat breaks out over his face. It's hard to breathe.
He has his eyes closed to prevent any unfortunate claws from gouging his eyeballs out of his sockets, so he doesn't see the door to the church crash open and he doesn't see his brother enter the building. But he hears the heavy oak door slam and the panicky, "Dean?"
Keeping his eyes and mouth shut, Dean moans as loudly as he can to alert Sam to his whereabouts, but all that slips through his constricted throat and nose is a wheezy rattle.
He knows Sam probably can't see him for all the shadows and giant arachnids.
"Dean, are you in here? Answer me, man."
At the sound of Sam's voice, Dean shakes his head again. This time, with the number of Kwaku hatchlings scrambling over his head and face, some of them don't have very good grip on him and he hears the muffled splat as several hit the dusty wooden floor below.
He feels the adult Kwaku tense, the tension telegraphed to him through the vibrations in its front appendages which are still groping his cocoon-wrapped legs.
He feels its weight shift forward and then the pressure is gone.
It must have jumped. Dean hopes he's given Sam enough of a heads up to at least know from which direction the attack is coming.
Gunshots ring out in rapid succession. Dean counts five, but there may have been more. He can't be sure. Consecrated rounds if he knows Sam.
There's an otherworldly squeal, high pitched and unlike anything he's ever heard before.
An inconclusive scuffing sound makes Dean wonder briefly who won the skirmish. It doesn't last long though.
"Oh my God! Dean! Hold on. I'm coming. I'm going to get those…I'm going to get you down. Just hold on."
Dean's glad his brother didn't tell him to 'just hang in there' because he's in no shape to give the appropriate response. And that would have been a terrible missed opportunity. A real shame.
The baby Kwakus are still feasting on his flesh, heedless of their parent's demise.
His adrenaline level is dropping right along with his blood volume level. He knows he's crashing, knows the signs by heart. Could probably recite them in his sleep.
His skin is crawling. He wants the blood-sucking parasites off him. There's nothing he can do until Sam gets here though. Nothing to do but wait for Sammy.
That's okay though because Sammy is coming.
All he has to do is wait.
Sam is gonna get here any moment now.
Sammy might already be here.
"Hey Dean, open your eyes. You need to drink some of this water."
Sam is here and he wants Dean to open his eyes. Opening his eyes is a bad idea. A very bad idea.
"Can't Sam." God, his mouth is dry. Feels like someone has stuffed cotton balls down his throat.
"Yes you can. Come on, open your eyes, Dean."
There's a reason why he shouldn't open his eyes. He just needs to clue Sam in and then maybe his brother'll leave him alone and let him sleep. "Spiders on my face." The cotton balls are making it really hard to talk. Why did someone have to go and stuff cotton balls down his throat anyway?
"The spiders are gone. I got rid of the spiders."
Well, that's good news. No more spiders is very good news even if Sam's voice sounds kind of choked. Did someone stuff cotton balls down Sam's throat too?
"Open your eyes, Dean."
Seems like maybe Sam is serious about this 'opening his eyes' thing. Dean sighs and cracks his eyes open. The walls of the chapel immediately begin to spin. He watches as the walls dip and turn in crazy circles. It's like being on a carousel.
"That's it. You're doing good," Sam says. "Now let's get you sitting up."
With his hands in Dean's armpits, Sam tugs upward until Dean is slumped against his side. His brother is warm and Dean lets his head fall back to thump softly on Sam's shoulder.
"Drink this." A bottle of water appears in front of him. Sam presses the bottle to his lips.
As good as the water tastes, he only manages a couple swallows before he's sputtering and water is dribbling out of his mouth and down his chin. Damn cotton balls.
"Okay, easy does it. Just a little at a time." Sam moves the bottle away. "Those suckers did a number on your neck, man. It's no wonder you're having trouble swallowing."
"Biting me." Dean feels compelled to point this out to Sam. "Biting me all over my face."
"Yeah, they were biting you. But not on your face. They concentrated mostly on your neck and shoulders."
"Guess m'face is too pretty. Even the bugs didn't wanna mess it up." Dean tries to smirk, but the familiar expression just won't stick. He's so tired. "We need bungee cords."
His eyes slip closed.
"Hey, no sleeping." Sam jostles his shoulder a little. "You've lost a lot of blood." A pause and then Sam continues. "I'm so sorry I didn't get here sooner, man. And then when I did get here I had to go find a ladder, you know, to get you down." Sam grimaces. "Anyway, you need to finish this water and then we'll get you out of here. Once we're back in the Impala I'll clean out those bites with holy water and antiseptic and you can sleep off the rest of the Kwaku venom at the motel. How's that sound?"
Dean shivers and his teeth begin to chatter. When did it get so cold? "I'm cold, Sam. Look." He holds his hand up to show Sam how hard it's shaking. Sam likes facts and Dean is happy that he has the proof to back up his claim. Sam presses his hand back down. Sam's hand is warm.
"Shit, Dean, your fingers are like icicles." Dean feels his brother rock several times behind his back. "Here." Then Sam's jacket is getting tucked around him, pinning his arms to his sides.
It feels like being wrapped in a cocoon.
Dean struggles against the confinement. "Too tight. Can't move. Sam, get the spiders off," he definitely does not whimper.
To his credit, Sam gets with the program pretty quickly. He loosens up the jacket and chafes at Dean's arms through the fabric. "Hey, it's all right. The spiders are gone. I killed every last one of those sons-of-bitches." Sam sounds angry and disgusted. But mostly angry.
Something new occurs to Dean and he thinks Sam should probably know about it. "That big one took a chunk outta my leg. Musta thought I was a piece of pie or something."
Sam sighs. "I know. It's patched up for now. I'll do a better job once we get out to the car." Sam rubs Dean's arm one last time and then the comfort is gone.
Dean looks at his leg for the first time and sees the field dressing covering his thigh. The leg of his blue jeans has been removed, cut off, he realizes. Sam's been busy.
His leg should probably hurt, but it doesn't. He just feels cold and really, really tired.
The water bottle is pressing against his lips again. He swallows greedily until his throat spasms and he has to stop.
"S'good," he tells his brother, rolling his head from side to side. "You came. I knew you'd get here." He's so sleepy. "I'm gonna sleep now, Sam."
"Not yet. Let's get you out to the car first."
Screw that. Dean closes his eyes anyway. Sam can't tell him what to do. He's the older brother and if he wants to sleep, he's gonna sleep, damn it.
He feels Sam shift and then there's an arm under his shoulders and another under his knees. He's being lifted up.
What the hell?
Dean thinks he should probably be embarrassed. No, he should be furious. He should yell at Sam and tell him to put him the fuck down. He should tell Sam he's not some damsel in distress that Sam can simply pick up and carry out to the car.
Next time, he's really gonna let Sam have it.
Next time, Sam's not gonna get away with this.