Dean woke up to the sounds of a chair being unceremoniously tipped over and the whimpering of a hurt animal.
Fuck, I must’ve forgotten to lock the door completely last night. How badly was I hurt if I forgot that? Dean thought to himself as he crept out of bed, hoping that it was just the motel owner’s dog being too inquisitive for its own good, that he’d have to herd out of the room. As he stood and looked around the room for the intruder, moving slowly so that his injuries from last night would only throb in discontent instead of scream in agony. Dean quickly got confused as he couldn’t see the motel owner’s dog or any creature for that matter.
When he hadn’t seen anything move for a few minutes and there wasn’t any more noise, Dean picked his gun up, tucked it into the waistband of his boxers and walked over to where the chair had been knocked onto its side. As he bent down to pick the chair up, he saw a pair of eyes peer out at him from inside his leather jacket.
Dean carefully crouched down, making sure to not completely corner the creature and scare it into attacking him, and tried to coax it out from its hiding place. After all, the jacket was not only functional and a piece of protective clothing (soldiers used to wear leather armour in the past, so what’s the difference between their armour and my jacket?), but helped him create the “devilishly handsome rogue” persona that drew in oh so many hotties at bars. Naturally, Dean had his priorities set.
When the creature seemed to retreat further into the folds of the jacket rather than coming out where Dean could get hold of it, Dean started to get annoyed; the poor man had been flung around like a rag doll more than once yesterday and was having to play horse whisperer with some mysterious creature, all before he could get dressed to go out and get a cup of coffee. The world is a cruel place sometimes.
What are you? Whatever you are, you’re really pretty damn small to be hiding that well in my jacket. Dean thought as he shifted slightly, trying to work out if he could scoop the creature and the jacket up in one go. As he reached out for the jacket he began humming quietly and after a few bars of the song, the creature started to slowly creep back out of where it had hidden inside Deans’ jacket, noticeably calmer than when it had been completely hidden.
What Dean saw when the creature’s head was visible startled him; it wasn’t the motel owner’s dog or even an overly inquisitive racoon.
It was a lizard.
Well, it was lizard-like.
The more of it that emerged from the confines of Dean’s jacket it was evident that it wasn’t just any lizard. Granted, it was dark green and brown with small scales, and despite its size, looked pretty much like a sagebrush lizard that was found all over the area, but that was pretty much where the resemblance ended.
No lizard Dean had ever seen had ever had a mouth that resembled your typical picture of a dragon or had wings. Nope. Not a single one, and given that he’d lived in pretty much every state in the continental US in his twenty five years, he’d seen more than a few examples.
Hang on. Large lizard-like creature with a mouth like a DRAGON’S and WINGS? If dragons weren’t extinct I’d think I’d got a baby dragon here. As Dean was thinking on the creature in front of him, it fluttered its wings and dislodged the last of Dean’s jacket that was covering it, uncovering its tail.
Oh hell, it’s a dragon isn’t it? A little fucking dragon that doesn’t know it’s meant to have been extinct for over five hundred years. Shit. They areextinct, right? That’s what all the books say. What the fuck am I gonna do with a baby dragon around? Dean continued to think in this vein for a while until he heard the baby … dragon walk across the bare wood floor from under the table to where Dean was kneeling next to the up righted chair. When it started, well, whining at him, Dean had a sudden flash of something that was him but not him ripping a buck into pieces and feeding it to the baby dragon in front of him. Before he’d even registered what he was doing, Dean was pulling on clean clothes and walking out of the door to the Impala with the thought of ‘must get meat, lots of meat’ going round his head.
It wasn’t until he was putting the key in the ignition of the Impala that Dean realised that he had no memory of the last few moments other than an extreme need to get out and get meat, no matter where it was from, just get meat.
As he shuddered at the strength of the urge and the many things it implied, Dean reasoned to himself that it was the best course of action to follow anyway. If it turned out that the dragon was a figment of his imagination or was going to somehow kill or injure him, it was safest to get away from where it was, even just for a while. On the other hand, if it turned out that the dragon was … good and just wanted a safe place to hide out and was somehow begging him for some food in the process, well, Dean had had a rather soft geeky spot for dragons ever since Pastor Jim had told him about them when he was twelve. There wasn’t a book on dragons in Jim’s collection that Dean hadn’t read that winter.
The drive from the motel Dean had been staying in for the last couple of days was long and simple enough that his mind started wandering over just what had happened the in the previous couple of days to land him with a baby dragon of all things using his jacket as some kind of blanket or comforter.
~+~ Forty eight hours previously ~+~It was whilst Dean was drinking the best cup of coffee that he’d had in what was at least a month, and waiting for his bacon and pancakes to be served that he realised that there was a case in the quiet little backwater town. As he put the latest newspaper down and mentally counted up the number and locations of all the cattle mutilations he’d read about in the last fortnight and put it together with the number of wild predator carcasses found eaten and discarded haphazardly up and down the nearby stretch of the Rockies, Dean realised that not only was there most likely a case in the area, but that it was a big one at that. Whatever the creature was, he sure didn’t want to be under-armed when he came up against it.
“Can I get you anything else, Hun?” The waitress asked him, hips jutted in such a manner that made her whole body look edible.
“I’m guessing that you’re not on the menu, right?” Dean said whilst winking at her, causing her to blush and hide a giggle behind a hand, whilst she shook her head to say ‘no’ to Dean’s suggestive question. He drained the last of the coffee from his cup and put it down closer to her.
“Well, as I can’t have you, I’d like a refill on the coffee then.” Dean said flirtatiously.
The still blushing waitress sashayed over to the coffee pot and back again, filling the empty cup whilst making sure that Dean got a perfect eyeful of all of her assets, silently telling him that he could have her, just not whilst she was at work.
As he savoured the coffee, Dean tried to work out the basics of what he’d need for the hunt and compared it to his mental inventory of his kit, and realised that not only would he have to do a lot of research, he’d probably have to fork out rather a bit to get the items that he didn’t have.
I guess I’ll be playing pool for the next few nights then, Dean thought as he left a generous tip for the waitress and left the diner, heading unerringly for his baby, the Impala.
Dean spent the rest of the day in the local library, going through all the books that he could find on local history, legends and folklore as well as spending a good few hours on the lone computer that had internet access, comparing what he’d read in the newspaper that morning with the news that Dean had picked up in the last fortnight whilst travelling south from Montana, down through Wyoming and Colorado, then north west through Utah. With the occurrences being spread out through the four states and across multiple counties in all of them, it wasn’t surprising that Dean had taken so long to realise that he was driving around the edges of a hunt in the Rockies of all places, and it wasn’t surprising that it was taking him far longer than he’d thought to pull up all of the articles that he remembered.
When he ran out of useful books and both the internet connection and the computer crashed for the fourth time in as many minutes, Dean was ready to call it a day, despite his need for more solid research before he went off to deal with the creature once and for all.
That night was spent in the bar at the north end of town, hustling pool and picking the pocket of a particularly sleazy ass that was one attempt at flirting with a taken woman away from getting the beat down he deserved. As soon as Dean had ‘won’ enough money to cover the extra ammo and supplies that he thought he might need on this hunt, Dean hightailed it out of there. No sense in staying for the brawl that was sure to happen when the people he’d been playing against realised that they’d been hustled.
At least today wasn’t a complete bust. I might not know what I’m dealing with but I know roughly where, and I’ve got enough cash to last a while. Looks like tomorrow’s going to be hands on recon. Dean thought as he pulled into the motel parking lot.
The next morning Dean was up and out of his motel room before the sun had crept over to his bed, and was appreciating another cup of heavenly coffee in the same diner as the last few days. This time the blushing waitress wasn’t on shift and instead there was a waitress who was probably old enough to be his grandma and was quite likely the elderly librarian’s sister. When she saw the rough sketch of where Dean presumed the creature to be holing up in, in the notes that he was going through, she started asking friendly questions about where he was going and why he’d want to go there with all the palaver going on with the dead animals.
“Now son, why’d you want to go to a place like that at a time like this? It’s not the best of season to be going ’round them mountains, especially not with some rabid animal attacking others left right and centre.” She asked kindly, concern showing in her eyes.
“Thanks for your concern ma’am but it’s for an article my friends writing. See, he writes and I go and take the photos for him. It suits me just fine as I love the outdoors and you never want to see the results of him on the business end of a camera! I shouldn’t be out there long anyway; I just need a few photos to highlight parts of his article.” Dean smoothly replied with, mixing the sincerity of his tone with the words of his lie just the right amount that she’d buy it.
“That’s so nice of you to do that for a friend. It’s not common to see such a nice man as you travel through here these days.” At that, Dean had to work hard to hide the minute flicker of longing to be the ‘nice man’ that she thought he was. “If you’re needing directions from here to your sketch of a map, there isn’t anyone around these parts as knows them better than my sister and I as our Daddy was one of the finest Park Rangers that we’ve ever had and he made sure we knew what was where.” The kind old waitress told Dean.
“Why ma’am, I’d be glad of some help from an expert such as yourself. See, I have the rough area marked out that I need to get too, but I’ve never been too good with maps out side of towns. Especially when I’m going to somewhere that’s not sign posted from at least half a state away!” Dean replied with, thinking it’d be a good idea to soak up as much free local knowledge as possible whilst he was here, as you never know when you’d need it.
He offered her the seat opposite him to keep up the ‘nice man’ routine and really, someone that old should be allowed to sit often if they’re still bussing tables at that age.
“Well if you can navigate yourself ’round town, I’ll just give you directions from the edge of town then shall I? Right, you’ll want to take the East 300 South out of town; turn right onto the South 500 East, it’ll become Canyon Road after not long at all. Keep following it ’til you get to a cross road with the mountains directly in front of you. You’ll want to keep going straight on. Follow it about two miles up, not quite to the end of the road mind, no doubt you’ll see where the current Park Rangers and Police have had their cars parked up and then it’s about a two, maybe closer to three, mile hike directly north of the road to the area in your sketch there. Keep in mind that you’ll be going through forest and ’round mountains all this time though, so it’ll take you longer than you think, probably closer to double whatever time you plan on, so make sure you allow yourself extra time. You get all that?” The lady asked the last part with a gentle tilt of her head and furrow of her brow when she realised that the nice young man in front of her hadn’t asked her to repeat any of her directions.
“Yes ma’am. My Father was a Marine and taught me to get everything done first time as you might not get a second try.” Dean replied smoothly, seemingly reading her mind, but for someone as used to hustling as him, he’d learned to read expressions and body language with a high rate of success a long time ago. “Thank you so much for this ma’am, it’s very kind of you to help out a total stranger like this.”
“Oh it’s nothing, anything to keep people safe. Now, can I get you anything else, young man?” She asked. When Dean replied in the negative, she got up and went back to the kitchen, taking Dean’s empty plate with her.
Anyone in their right mind would have called their friends up and asked for their help when faced with a hunt in this large an area and without knowing exactly what it was that he was hunting. That’s assuming that the person had friends or was in their right mind. Dean claimed neither.
Sure there were contacts and acquaintances that he could feel out for some information, but most of them saw him as “John’s son” or “the eldest Winchester kid” and it’d get around to his Dad in next to no time that Dean Winchester couldn’t last three hunts without calling for help, and there was no way that Dean was going to have his Dad, the great John Winchester himself, give him the telephonic equivalent of the stink eye for needing bailing out on something as simple as a bit of research.
If only this fucker did something more defining than just killing and eating a hell of a lotta animals recently, then my job’d be so much freakin’ easier. Then again, when’s anything ever been just plain easy for me?
So far he had managed to narrow the options down to five contenders, barring it being a previously unknown spawn of evil; a highly organised pack of Black Dogs which he didn’t think was particularly likely, a potentially psychotic animal ‘shifter, the Rockies version of England’s Wild Hunt, a night-hunting Griffin, or a rather hungry Dragon. Yeah, not very likely in any case, considering that Griffin’s don’t exist, Dragon’s have been extinct for at least 500 years, there was no record of there being any version of the Wild Hunt anywhere in the area and organised Black Dogs? Yeah, right.
Dean had been to the three different gun stores in town and had just about managed to find everything that he needed, or as much as you could get from a non-hunter-specific store. Then again, the nearest hunter-specific store that he knew of was Brady & Linda’s place in Tonalea, Arizona, not exactly close to bum-fuck nowhere, Utah.
The mountains were all around him and the site where the Police and Park Rangers had been parked up was a couple of hundred meters behind him when Dean parked and locked the Impala up in a wider section of the road. It wasn’t the first time Dean had been in a mountainous area or a heavily forested one either, but it was the first time in such an area on his own and for a few moments he wished that he had either his Dad or Sam with him. It wasn’t necessarily for the back-up that they’d be on a hunt like this, but just the reminder that there were other people. It was so quiet out here in comparison to even a small town such as the one he’d just come from, even with the bird calls and the general noises of nature around him, it was a little unsettlingly quiet after the noise that he was so used to.
As he shook off the feeling of insignificance that stole over him, Dean tightened the straps of the bag over his shoulder and took off north, his rough sketch and a proper map both tucked in an inside pocket of his jacket.
He hadn’t been expecting to cross paths with anyone whilst out here, so when Dean heard startled sounding voices from just ahead and a little below him, Dean was surprised and more than a little cautious. The nature photographer cover wouldn’t last long if people saw the handgun in his waistband or the arsenal in his bag.
“God dammit, what is this thing Jake? Ain’t nothin’ like what you told me we’d be huntin’ today.” A slightly muffled but definitely male voice called out, sharply followed by the sounds of bodies hitting rocks and items being dropped. Seconds later there was a sound as if the earth itself was growling.
As Dean crept closer another male voice spoke.
“Mike! Mike, we gotta get outta here.” The other man, presumably the previously mentioned Jake, said in between panting for breath. From the sound of it, he was injured and getting weak quickly.
All the time ‘Jake’ had been talking, Dean had been creeping closer to the source of the voices and by the time he could see where they were, both men – for there were only two men that he could see – were pretty beaten up and their rifles were the other side of the roofless cave that they were in. From the back of the recession in the mountain, Dean could hear the creature that the men had come across but because of the bushes lining the drop, he couldn’t see what they were up against.
Whether it was a perfectly normal creature that they’d accidentally pissed off or some form of supernatural creature, he couldn’t just leave the two guys to deal with it themselves when they were as injured as he could see they were, but that didn’t mean that Dean was just going to jump in playing the white knight, that was a sure fire way to get himself just as beat up as the two guys down there. Dean carefully slithered along the top of the drop in search of a spot that he would be able to see what he was dealing with from without getting up wind of it and announcing his presence.
Before he’d found such a spot, one of the men had managed to pick up his hunting rifle and got off a couple of shots at the creature. This didn’t seem so good in hindsight as the creature trumpeted its anger and lashed out in retaliation. Now Dean could see that whatever it was, it wasn’t a normal creature and was quite possibly what he’d been searching for, as no normal creature that he knew of had a tail like a lizard but longer than he was tall, nor had claws that were probably longer than his foot. By the time Dean had a suitable position, there was only one man still alive down there. The other was spread out over a large area starting at the rock he’d been leaning against and ending at the base of a tree.
A tree that was three meters away.
When Dean finally saw just what he was dealing with, he pitied the men for being foolish enough to think that they’d be able to fight their way out once they’d angered it, for in front of Dean was a creature that everyone thought was extinct; a dragon. To be more precise, a nesting dragon whose eggs appeared to be on the verge of hatching if their wobbling all over the place in the nest was anything to go by.
With the second man not moving other than nearly hyperventilating and currently posing no threat to the dragon or her hatching offspring, the dragon ignored him and walked back over to the nest, nudging a couple of eggs back into the centre of the nest.
He was half tempted to leave the last man to his fate, there was little chance that the guy would last the trek back to the Impala let alone the drive from there to the nearest hospital, and yet he couldn’t just leave the man to die from blood loss. Making up his mind to give the man a mercy killing and to try and find out a little more about the dragon, coz dude, DRAGONS, Dean slowly slid himself down the drop into the roofless cave and quietly stalked over to the now practically unconscious man, intending to quickly snap his neck and put him out of his misery. Unfortunately for Dean, just as he got within an arm’s reach of him, the guy somehow pulled himself up onto his knees and started yelling whilst groping around for something.
“YOU FUCKER! He was my best friend. I’ll fuckin’ kill you for this. Take you with me if I have to.” As he was yelling, the guy found what he was looking for and swung around to face the dragon who was now facing him, her body covering the nest and her wings splayed as much as they could be in the space she had to further protect her eggs.
What the guy loaded the rifle that he’d grabbed from under his best friend’s torso, Dean couldn’t tell, but when he pulled the trigger, the sound was far different from the earlier shots and seemed to cause more damage if the wobbling of the dragon was any indication. Perhaps it was because of the closer proximity when he fired or whatever it had been loaded with, but this shot seemed to have done what the previous attacks hadn’t, it had scored a not-quite-direct hit in the region of her eye Dean estimated from the amount of damage that could be seen even from where he was.
The dragon wasn’t just wobbling, Dean realised, she was teetering backwards; with the last of her energy as she died, she tried in vain to push herself forwards and away from the nest by flapping her wings as much as she could in the confined space and flailing out with her front legs, but the power of the impact coupled with her sheer mass pushed her backwards and onto the nest.
As her forelimbs flailed and spasmed, the dragon’s claws caught her killer across the throat and chest, flinging him sideways. Unfortunately for Dean, he was to the side of the now-flying man and was knocked to the ground by the impact of the man crashing into him. As Dean crashed to the ground, he hit his head just behind his right temple on a jagged rock. Before he could properly register what was going on and roll the dead man’s body off of him, Dean was unconscious and bleeding from multiple small cuts and scratches across his face, back and hands.
What the fuck happened? Dean thought as he groggily woke up, his head throbbing in time with his pulse and his back aching like it had been pulverised by a meat tenderiser. For a moment he just lay there, trying to make sense of the situation he was in and work out what to do. When the stench of recently dead bodies reached his nose he rolled out from under the weight that was pinning him down, gagging a little. When his brain caught up with his eyes and realised that he’d been pinned under a dead body for at least as long as he’d been out of it and lying in a puddle of blood that wasn’t just the dead man’s, he threw up.
As he took deep breaths and crawled away from the body, Dean took stock of where he was and quickly deduced that a good three or four hours had gone passed as it was now mid-afternoon and would be getting dark soon. Standing up slowly, Dean saw the dead dragon and, feeling a pang of shame that he hadn’t been able to save her as he’d always liked the stories about dragons and had devoured all the information on them that he could find, noticed that her blood had run down the gentle slope to mix with the blood of the dead man who’d pinned Dean down in unconsciousness. At the thought of having lain in a pool of human and dragon blood for hours, Dean forcibly pushed down the urge to vomit again and could only hope that no one saw him before he could have a shower.
Dean had never let on to this fascination with dragons to Sam or their Dad of course, wouldn’t want them to think that he was anything less than the perfect big brother, son or hunter that they both needed him to be, and being geeky over dragons didn’t fit into any of those categories, so he had hid it along with everything else that he liked or wanted that didn’t fit those roles.
Dean was fully upright and looking around for a safe place to climb up the miniature cliff face and back onto the path that he’d been on when he’d found the two men earlier in the day when he heard it, a slight almost whimpering-chirp coming from under the membrane of one of the dragon’s wings. As Dean walked over the sound got louder and sounded more and more desperate.
It couldn’t be, none of the eggs had hatched and she’s crushed them all. Dean told himself when he thought that maybe it was a baby dragon under there, but when he gingerly pulled back the membrane, what was producing the desperate whimpering-chirp was none other than a baby dragon. Barely bigger than his forearm the baby was nudging its mother, obviously wanting her to comfort it or feed it. With a sinking feeling, Dean worked out that the baby must have hatched as its mother was dying and Dean hadn’t noticed as he was busy falling unconscious. Realising that it wouldn’t last very long at all with no one to look after it, Dean took off his leather jacket, carefully wrapped the baby dragon into it and made his way over to a safe place to climb the cliff and made his way back to the Impala as quickly and safely as he could, blaming his still foggy brain for the insanity in what he was doing.
~+~ Present day ~+~Dean parked the Impala in the small car park at the side of the Mom and Pop store a couple of blocks down from the diner of awesome coffee, counted up how much money he had left and went in to buy as much meat as he could get his hands on, reasoning that anything the baby dragon didn’t eat within a day or so, he’d cook up on one of those disposable bar-b-q kits for himself.
“Are you new in town? Can’t say as I’ve seen you around here before, son.” The man at the meat counter asked as he packaged up all of the steaks and joints that Dean had asked for.
“No, I’m just passing through, I’m meeting up with some friends tonight for a barbecue and they asked me to get in some extra steaks, so here I am, buying as much as I can.” Dean replied smoothly, picking up the packaged meat.
“Ah say no more, you can never have too many steaks for a proper barbecue.” The man said with a grin.
“Thanks.” With that, Dean took the meat over to the till and handed over all but three dollars of his remaining money, smiled at the older woman who served him (probably the butcher’s wife Dean thought), and went back to the Impala.
A while later, Dean was back in the motel room and putting the meat away in the mini-fridge and wondering just what the hell he’s meant to do with a baby dragon – how would he hunt and would it be safe to take the dragon with him or leave it in a motel? – not to mention what he’d do if his Dad decided to drop in on him unannounced as he’d threatened to do from time to time, when he realised that the whimpering-chirp or similar sounds that he’d been expecting to hear from the lonely dragon, weren’t there. Panicking, with visions of dead dragons and eggs being carried off by men in armour, Dean whirled around, looking everywhere in the room for the baby dragon, getting more and more panicked with every second that went passed without finding it. When he eventually found the baby dragon curled up in a pile of dirty t-shirts and the duvet that had partially slid off of the bed this morning, Dean collapsed on the bed with his head in his hands forcing himself to calm down.
Why the hell was I so fucking scared? It’s not like I have any connection to the dragon.
Dean continued to breathe slowly and calm himself, scrubbing his hands back and forth over the back of his head as he kept his eyes focussed on the baby dragon, refusing to move and have the baby out of his sight for even a second until he was totally calm. When he’d calmed down and had hurriedly put the rest of the meat away, Dean sat back in the same spot and lost the next half hour or so just watching the curled up baby dragon, finding himself grinning lightly when it started twitching and moving in its sleep.
Just like Sammy when he was a baby, oh hell, at any age. That kid just can’t stay still when he’s asleep. At the thoughts of Sam, Dean felt his happy calmness slide for a moment as he realised that this summer would be the third summer since Sam had left for Stanford. It’s not that Dean wasn’t proud of his baby brother for going to college, it was the fact that Sam had never tried to contact Dean after walking out of the door when John gave him the ultimatum of family or college and Sam hadn’t picked them. Dean had left a couple of voicemails over the next week ranging from “I don’t blame you, you were always brilliant with school stuff” to “just call me whenever you need to”, but he’d never got a reply, not even a text message telling him to leave Sam alone. Nothing. Complete radio silence for three years, and it hurt.
As he nudged the memories of Sam leaving them out of his mind, Dean saw that the baby dragon was waking up and went to get a steak out of the fridge for the baby, reasoning that everything that he’d ever read said that dragons ate meat and lots of it, that the babies probably ate it, just a lot less.
“Come on now, no need to be shy, I’ve got some food for you.” Dean said to the baby dragon as he crouched down and put the steak down in front of the baby. The baby dragon looked at the meat, up and Dean, and back down at the meat. As if knowing what the baby meant, Dean held it up to the dragon’s mouth and put enough of it in its mouth that it’d taste and smell it and hopefully it’s hunger would kick in and do the rest. When the baby bit down and couldn’t get more than a scraping off of the steak Dean realised with blinding clarity that despite having needle-sharp teeth, they probably weren’t quite strong enough to rip through even a small steak, and given that the baby was all of a day old, it would probably have been fed small chunks by its mom until it was big enough and strong enough to rip into carcasses of small animals itself. Almost face-palming himself, Dean grabbed the knife in his ankle sheathe and cut the steak up into bite size chunks for the baby. Once it could pick a piece up on its own and fit the whole chunk into its mouth in one go, it descended on the remaining chunks with gusto and was soon making pleading noises.
With a chuckle, Dean got another steak and cut it up, hand feeding a piece every now and then to the baby dragon. When both steaks had been eaten, the baby dragon slowly dropped off to sleep, half on and half off of Deans’ lap. Dean gathered it up into his arms and stood, taking it to the bathroom and gently cleaned it up, humming a song to himself all the while.
Before he knew what was going on, he was wiping his blood stained hands on the more-than-useless t-shirt that he’d been wearing yesterday and the baby dragon was now curled up on the spare pillow with one of Dean’s old t-shirts over its tail and hind legs and Dean was gently stroking the dragon’s flanks. When he realised that two hours had gone passed since he’d first started to feed the baby dragon and it would wake up again pretty soon, most likely for another round of feeding then sleeping, Dean was shocked, especially as he hadn’t actually eaten anything himself other than the half pack of M&Ms that had been in the Impala and he hadn’t felt the need to eat or even stop off for coffee even though he’d been just up the street from the diner earlier. Upon realising that, his stomach started to grumble and he suddenly felt starving, the only problem was that other than the meat for the dragon and a six pack of beer in the mini-fridge, Dean had nothing in the room that he could eat and no money to pay for take-out.
Damn it. Guess I’ll have to chance the grill in this shit heap to actually work and have one of the steaks, though at the rate the baby gets through them, I’ll have to … acquire some more soon. So Dean chanced the grill and whilst the steak turned out edible, it was a far cry from even the most average of steaks he’d ever had in the multitude of diners and similar places that he’d eaten in over the years. Just as he finished choking down the steak, the baby dragon woke up and Dean could hear it moving around on the bed as he dumped the dirty plate on the side. As he walked over to the bed he picked up another couple of steaks, cut them up and put them on the one other plate in the room so that the bed wasn’t completely gross when he got into it.
When he’d gone through the whole feeding, cleaning and putting down to sleep routine, Dean worked out that he had another three, maybe four hours until the dragon woke up again and he was determined to get some sleep in before that happened, so he shucked off his clothes, gave his teeth a cursory brushing and dropped onto the bed, only narrowly missing crushing the sleeping dragon. Sliding across the bed in the laziest possible manner, Dean gently shoved the pillow from the centre of the bed to its customary place at the head of the bed and rolled up another t-shirt to make a sort of barrier in an attempt to stop it from falling off of the bed in the night.
When he was sure that the dragon was safe and not about to wake up, he attempted to become one with the mattress and fall asleep. Unfortunately, his mind wasn’t playing the same game.
Great, overnight I’ve become a fucking single parent with no money to look after my ‘kid’ and no way of knowing if I’m doing more harm than good. Fuck this shit.
How did Dad cope with me and Sam? Oh yeah, he didn’t, he relied on me too much.
I’m gonna need help with this but everyone I know knows Dad and it’ll get back to him and there’s no way in hell I’m having him tell me to kill an honest-to-God dragon. Especially not a baby one.
The more Dean thought on it, the more desperate and panicked he became. He did his best to put it out of his mind and put on his game face as knew he’d be needing sleep – he wasn’t stupid, he’d heard about the sleepless nights of parenthood, seen it in TV shows and remembered it vaguely from when Sam was little and had had a bad case of the ‘flu – and eventually, Dean fell into oblivion.
Dean woke to the sounds of claws scrabbling for purchase on fabric and a startled yelp.
He shot up out of bed and frantically looked round the room with bleary eyes until he noticed the baby dragon slowly sliding sideways off of the pillow. He reached over and carefully scooped it up, fed and cleaned it again all the time humming snatches of songs, but instead of putting the dragon back onto the spare pillow, Dean cradled it on his lap and continued to hum, soothing both dragon and himself back to sleep, successfully ignoring the vague feeling of unease that still its claws in him.
When Dean next woke up, he realised why a) sleeping upright in bed with a nasty ass headboard digging into your back is a bad idea and b) why having what amounted to a naked baby sleeping in your lap is not only a bad idea but a very messy and smelly one.
“Oh gross. That’s just nasty.” Dean said whilst simultaneously trying to hold his breath in an attempt to stop smelling what was now covering the entirety of the front of his boxers.
He carried the dragon to the bathroom at arm’s length whilst shimmying out of the boxers and kicking them in the direction of the bin, and proceeded to give it a full bath, making mental notes of extra things to buy the second he had enough money to. Spare boxers and something that could be fashioned into a diaper for night time were currently at the top of that list.
When they were both clean again, the dragon had been fed and Dean had dug out and put on one the last pairs of clean boxers that he had, Dean caught himself in the dull reflection of the room’s window and realised that he had no cuts, scrapes or bruises anywhere on him; not on his hands or on his head where he’d hit the rock that’d knocked him out nor across his back from the impact of landing on stone with the dead weight of a not-small man on top of him. There was nothing “wrong” with him from two days ago other than a low grade headache that rolled from one side of his head to the other and was probably a result of a minor concussion from the KO, and that was just plain weird.
Dismissing it as something to think on in the daylight, Dean put the dozing dragon back on the pillow but moved both nightstands to that side of the bed creating an extension to the bed in case baby dragon moved about enough in the night to almost fall out of bed again.
The next time Dean woke up, the sun was up, albeit barely, and the dragon was still fast asleep. He could feel the knots in his back receding but the headache was still there. Nowhere near as bad as a lot that he’d had in the past, so he didn’t worry too much and gave into the thoughts from last night.
Jim knows about dragons, but he’s known Dad since before I was born so he’s not an option. Caleb, he’s … not the right person. Great guy if I needed guns or knives but info on dragons, not so much. Jefferson’s never been all that tight with Dad but he’s more your salt and burn guy, definitely not going to know anything about dragons. I haven’t heard from Travis in a while, don’t know where he is or if he’s even around anymore. He probably wouldn’t talk to Dad, then again, he probably wouldn’t see or speak to him soon enough to be a problem. Richie and Dad have never met but the guy’s not cut out to be a hunter and I don’t want to encourage him so he’s out. Who the hell else is there?
Dean kept thinking about who to feel out, all the while unconsciously keeping half an eye on the sleeping dragon, shifting it around gently when it nearly rolled off the side again.
Whoever he ended up calling, Dean knew he’d have to move on today, having no money to pay for a motel room tended to get you kicked out and your stuff trashed and with the amount of meat he’d have to keep on buying coupled with the hustling he’d have to do and the number of fake credit cards that would have to be used, it would make him far too noticeable and the locals far too suspicious for him to stay in any one place for more than a day or so.
When he had fed the dragon the second to last lot of steak that he had, Dean decided that he’d try the number that he had for Travis. What he’d do if Travis didn’t pick up or wasn’t able to help him, Dean didn’t want to think about.
As he was packing up the clothes that he was actually taking with him, a certain pair of boxers not being among them, Dean dug out his cell phone from the blood encrusted pair that he’d been wearing when he’d first encountered the baby dragon and its Mom, running through the contacts in there, he was surprised to go passed ‘Singer-emerg.’ just above Travis. As he called Travis Dean realised ‘Singer-emerg.’ must be Bobby Singer, and wondered why he hadn’t thought of Bobby earlier.
“I’m sorry, but the number you are dialling has been disconnected. Please try another number.”
“Goddamit.” Dean bit out. He stood up from the chair he’d sat down on when he was scrolling through his pitifully short contacts list and picked up his bags – one for clothes, one for weapons – and walked out to the Impala to stow them in the boot. As he came back into the room Dean remembered the spectacular argument between his Dad and Bobby that had occurred about eight or nine years ago. He didn’t know what it had been about, but he could clearly remember how it had ended, his Dad being backed down the steps to Bobby’s front door with the business end of a loaded shotgun inches from his face, the two of them red in the face from arguing long and hard about something. Dean had heard both his and Sam’s names mentioned once or twice but even that didn’t really tell him much other than one or both of the adults were using him and his brother as pawns in their argument.
With that mental image plastered inside his head, Dean was understandably hesitant to use the number that he had for Bobby, even if the man had always seemed like family to Dean and had sought him out moments before Dad had dragged him and Sam away from Bobby’s for the last time, and told him that even though his Daddy wasn’t welcome at Bobby’s, he and Sam were always welcome to call or drop by whenever they needed or even just wanted to.
“Well, we’ve got nowhere else to go have we, Sleepy, so I’d say that counted as an emergency, right?” Dean said to the still sleeping dragon. When he saw that the dragon had made itself a perfect little dragon-sized dip in the pillow much the same way that Sam had when he’d been very little, Dean decided that it’d be easier to just carry the whole pillow – and – t-shirt pile complete with dragon on top to the Impala instead of attempting to separate it all and risk waking the dragon.
Once the dragon and associated comfy mound was carefully ensconced on the passenger seat with Dean’s leather jacket in close range ready to cover the dragon up temporarily if need be, Dean quickly dropped off the room key to the bored looking elderly man in reception, climbed back into the Impala and headed off for Sioux Falls, South Dakota.