Sam jolted awake as he heard a sudden heavy crunch in the undergrowth behind them.
He shuffled stiffly out from under his sleeping brother's head which was resting limply on his shoulder. Dean blinked blearily at the movement and opened his mouth to speak, but managed only a wheezing huff as he slowly keeled over without Sam's solid support.
Sam's grip tightened on the rifle as he reached out with his free hand to steady the listing figure beside him. As he scrambled to his feet, stamping down on his injured leg to try to coax some movement and feeling back into it, he heard the sound again; another heavy cracking rustle seeming closer this time. It was the sound of whole bushes and not just undergrowth grasses being trodden down.
Indiana's head jerked up giving a sharp snort of alarm and he shied backwards, squealing as the rein tethering him to a nearby tree sprung tight. He pulled against the taut rein stamping and fidgeting fretfully as he wheeled round, turning his back to the menacing noises.
The sound fell silent, and Sam's heart pounded in his chest as his instincts spiked. He didn't like it; not one bit. Stepping over the log he effectively placed himself as a barrier between Dean and whatever it was out there in the dark.
"S'mmy … Chu…pa …? " Dean whispered hoarsely, unable to finish the question.
"Shhhh … let me listen," Sam whispered as he carefully scanned the darkness through the trees, pausing to focus on a quivering bush; his breathing quickening as he squinted through the impenetrable blackness.
Sam exhaled slowly. Perhaps he was imagining it; perhaps it was just the breeze rustling through the bushes. Maybe it was a raccoon or something; those things could be heavy and destructive.
He felt himself start to relax and glanced round to Dean who was leaning crookedly over the log, his unfocussed eyes looking up at him from under heavy lids. Letting the barrel of the rifle dip, he gave out a shaky sigh and glanced back up into the darkness.
Straight into two glowing red eyes.
Stumbling backwards in shock, Sam almost dropped the rifle. He fumbled it back into a firing position and loosed off a hasty shot in the direction of the eyes, hearing a gasp as Dean flinched behind him at the noise of the shot.
The eyes continued to stare through the darkness at him, unblinking.
"S'mmy … Sa …" Dean's struggling breath caught in his chest as he tried to look round, letting out a hoarse grunt of pain as the action pulled on his broken collarbone.
Sam stood rooted to the ground, staring helplessly at the two red orbs; unable break their gaze. At the back of his mind, a creeping sense of dread began to weigh heavily on him as he remembered reading something a long time ago about the Chupacabra having a hypnotic gaze; mesmerising it's prey into submission, making it easier for the heavy, cumbersome creature to kill. He hoped to hell that wasn't the case, because if it was - he was screwed.
The eyes moved slowly towards him in a jerking, bobbing motion which made him feel slightly nauseous; as he watched, his trembling finger curled around the rifle's trigger. He didn't want to waste this shot - he had to wait until he could be sure it was right on target.
Slowly, by stages, the moonlight began to pick out it's shape as it approached. It was, Sam guessed, the size of a very large dog; moving towards him at a loping hop on it's hind legs, it's clawed forelegs curled up beneath it's chest. It's skin, hairless, save for a lank, oily mane along the top of it's head and back, glistened like wet suede.
Dean struggled, trying to turn round. He wanted to climb over the log to help Sammy, but damnit, his stupid broken body was simply refusing to co-operate; he gasped miserably, desperate to call out to Sam, but his compromised lungs squeezed all the sound out of his voice, leaving only a rasping croak.
Staring into those glowing red eyes as the creature stalked towards him in it's peculiar hopping gait, Sam watched in dismay as it's head remained motionless, maintaining that dizzying eye contact; never blinking, never breaking it's gaze. It was close enough now that he could hear it's snuffling, rattling breaths and smell it's rank odour.
His hands shook as he held the rifle. He knew it was close enough now for him to hit it point blank; he couldn't miss. But he simply wasn't able squeeze the trigger.
It had him.
Those terrible red eyes; he had unwittingly fallen under it's spell.
It leaned back on it's haunches, ready to spring, never breaking that mesmerising eye contact; behind him Sam could hear Dean's breathless gasps and his feet scrabbling in the gravel as he tried to stand, desperate to help his stupefied brother.
Suddenly, with a flash of chestnut and a crack of shattering bones, the creature was flung aside as the gentle, placid horse that Sam had completely forgotten about in all the drama, landed a vicious kick into it's side.
The eye contact broken, Sam snapped back into his senses and lunged over to the prone creature as it lay squealing and writhing weakly on the ground, the side of it's rib-cage caved in.
Sam pressed the rifle against it's head and fired.
As the muffled shot sounded, the jerking body slumped into stillness.
Sam stood panting for a moment, then looked across to Indiana, who gazed amiably back at him. He strode over and lavishly ruffled the horse's big velvet muzzle.
"You great big badass, you…" he gasped joyfully, slapping Indiana's neck.
Dean peered round, as far as his injuries would allow, "wha' … goin' on?" He gasped between agitated breaths; "s'mmy … y'okay?"
Sam turned, and hopped back over the log; "s'all good Dean, Indiana iced the Chupacabra."
Dean stared at him. "Indi … ana … killed it?" He paused, wincing as he drew in a pained breath; "Y'got ... y'ass ... outfought by … a horse?"
Sam grinned broadly, "yep dude; I totally did."
He dropped to his knees on his brother's good side, and fussed over Dean's sling; "how you doin, bro'?"
Dean gave a tight lipped nod, "m'good" he croaked.
Sam patted him on his good shoulder, and got up, reaching for his handgun. He walked back over to the Chupacabra, and although it was fairly obviously dead, for his own peace of mind, he emptied an entire clip into it's head.
"That's for Hannibal." He stated coolly.
Sam cracked open a bottle of water and knelt down before Dean, supporting his head as he held the bottle to his lips. Dean managed two faltering gulps then stopped to catch his breath, Sam gently kneading the back of his neck to reassure and help him as he pulled in the painful breaths.
They carried on in that fashion until Dean had managed to take in around a quarter of the bottle. Sam took a couple of long, deep gulps from it; taking care to reserve the remainder for their hero standing quietly behind them, chewing contentedly on an uprooted shrub.
Sam slowly sat down on the ground at Dean's uninjured side, stifling a groan of pain as his abused hip screamed in protest, and gathered Dean into him. He smiled as Dean leaned, unresisting into his shoulder. He would stay like this for the rest of the night; holding his brother, rubbing his back to ease his breathing, listening to Dean's strained gasps on sharp alert for any signs of deterioration.
He decided that as soon as there was enough light, it was down to him to go and find help. With the Chupacabra dead, it would be safe to leave Dean for a little while, wouldn't it?
He didn't see that he had a choice.