In the future, Dean will look back and be able to acknowledge that two months of nothing but milk-runs had made them sloppy, and sooner or later a hunt was bound to go sideways on them. But at the moment, he doesn't think much of Sam's shout, is contemplating just yelling back instead of actually going to see--when Sam's second shout comes, this time clearly pained, and there's an accompanying growling snarl, and Dean's suddenly running back, thinking that surely they hadn't gotten this far separated--
It takes a moment for his brain to figure out what he's looking at, when he does locate Sam, because Sam's twisting and partly crouched over, scrabbling with his hands behind his head and neck, rifle discarded on the ground beside him. But then Sam shouts again--"It's going after my neck--shoot it!" and Dean realizes that what his eyes had dismissed as an extension of Sam's tan coat is actually a large cougar that's trying to get its jaws around Sam's spine.
But in the time it takes his conscious brain to figure that out, he's bracing the rifle butt and aiming for the cougar's shoulder. A single breath and he's taken two shots at it. With something like a scream, the cougar leaps away and is gone, aside from a scattered trail of blood that Dean has no interest in following.
Sam collapses, swearing as he goes, one hand clamped around the back of his neck and the other pressed against his lower spine. Dean's skidding on his knees at Sam's side before he even realizes he's dropped his own rifle, panic beating at his brain and lungs because the last time Sam got injured while they were in a forest it went really badly.
"Shit," he says, and, "let me see--c'mon Sammy, we gotta figure out how bad it is before we move you." He's not going to leave Sam this time, though, no matter what the damage is. That lesson's been learned.
Sam's swearing evens out a little, and he lets Dean move his hands a little, first one, then the other.
"Okay," Dean says, and the sense of relief hits him so hard he has to blink his eyes clear a couple times. "You're okay, Sam. It's not bad."
It's not great, either--Sam's jacket is partly shredded, and there's definitely blood coming through: lines of it on Sam's lower back, and slowly growing spots further up towards his neck, but nothing that looks deep enough to do permanent damage. If they tear up Sam's already-ruined flannel shirt into bandages Dean can patch him up well enough to get to the car, no problem.
"We passed a hospital on the way here," he says, beginning the process of maneuvering Sam's jacket off as gently as possible. "We'll get you a pint of blood, a few dozen stitches, and maybe some burgers on the way back to the motel. I'll even let you pick the show tonight, so long as it's not Wild America."
"Shit," Sam hisses as the jacket comes off, leaning his head in against Dean's shoulder for support. "Remind me to never joke about animal attacks ever again."
"No problem," Dean tells him fervently; he's going to have nightmares about this for the next week or two. "Give me a werepire any day of the week."
Sam laughs a little, shaky but still strong, and shifts back from Dean enough to look up at him. "I still refuse to call them that, you know."
"Yeah, yeah--someday I'll win you over," Dean says, feeling the corners of his mouth curling up a little, because if Sam can laugh that means he really is going to be okay. "Now get topless so I can make sure you don't bleed out."
"You're not the boss of me," Sam shoots back, but he's smiling as he says it, shirt already half unbuttoned.
And hey--looking on the bright side of the whole fiasco, if it's just a cougar, that means they can leave the whole thing for the Game & Wildlife wardens to deal with and just go home. Home sounds nice. Home doesn't have cougars trying to eat Sam.
"Man, nature sucks," Dean says, and for once Sam doesn't argue.