They were back at the bunker for almost a week now and they were recovering. Sam had slept most of the first days but now he was up and around most of the time. And bitching that he still got headaches if he read for too long. What a bummer. Dean just rolled his eyes at him.
"You're such a selfless little guy, aren't you?" Dean commented with a shake of his head. Mac just gave the ball they were playing with a push with his snout so that it rolled towards Dean.
With innocent eyes he waited for Dean to throw it for him. Which he did. Of course he did. Have you seen those eyes?
But Dean was just happy that Mac felt like playing again. He still moved a bit stiff and slower than usual but his wound was healing nicely and he would be back to one hundred percent in no time.
With Sam limited to short reading sessions his research regarding the Mark had slowed down to almost a standstill. And Dean didn't mind?
He felt the Mark under his skin and in his mind, the whispers in the dark, the urges for blood and pain, but it was okay. He could deal with it.
Every time it got bad Mac was suddenly at his side and somehow the pig new exactly what he needed at the time. If he needed distraction, Mac brought a toy. If he needed to move, he brought the harness and they went out for a long walk. If he just needed to crawl under the blanket and shut the world out, Mac was right with him under the blanket and let Dean hold on to him for hours if necessary.
The nights were the worst, though, when Dean was alone with his thoughts and nothing to distract him. Or worse when he was caught in a nightmare and couldn't get free.
He dreamed of Hell. Souls screaming in a prison of flesh and blood and pain. He was never sure which side of the rack he was on but those were dreams so he probably was on both sides.
However, Mac slept in his bed every night and he was like an anchor. When everything got too much, Dean turned to his side and curled around the pig and just focused on the small body until he could breathe again.
And when the nightmares hit, Mac woke him up with a wet snout to the face. Then Dean lay there, breathless and soaked in cold sweat, trying to figure out what was real and what wasn't and Mac just dropped on him, letting his body weight ground him.
It was after one of those bad dreams when Dean started to talk to him. Mac lay on his chest, his injured side up, and just waited for Dean to calm down.
"I can still taste the sulfur in the back of my throat." Dean said. "I hear them scream. I want to make them scream."
He reached up to pet Mac or just to hold on to him, he didn't know, when he noticed the faint glow of the Mark. A dirty red in the dark but it was already fading. By the time he felt Mac's short fur under his fingers, it was gone. He knew the Mark was still there but it wasn't pulling at him at the moment.
"You know, it's so tempting sometimes." He had to swallow against the lump in his throat. "To just give in. To just give up."
Mac shifted until his snout was pressed against Dean's throat. There was no eerie voice coming out of nowhere, no song with a meaning suddenly playing on the radio, nothing like that happened. Just Mac lying on his chest with his snout nuzzled into his throat and it was enough.
Dean started to talk to Mac during those long nights. Reluctantly at first, he'd never really talked about this stuff, but once he'd started it became easier.
Mac didn't judge, he didn't comment, he didn't look at him different. He just listened to whatever Dean needed to talk about in the wee hours of the night when he lay sleepless in his bed with too much blood on his hands and too much guilt on his mind.
Sometimes he wondered if Sam heard him. If his brother came by his door and just stopped and listened. The first time that thought crossed his mind he stopped talking mid-sentence and didn't say a word the next two nights.
"This is between you and me." He said to Mac the next time he woke up with a scream caught in his throat. "Sam doesn't need to know."
Mac made a reassuring sound and made himself more comfortable at Dean's side with his head resting on his shoulder.
After that Dean was pretty sure that even if Sam pressed his ear to the door he wouldn't hear a word he was saying. This was something between Mac and him and he counted on the pig to keep it that way.
"You know, sometimes I wish I never made it out of Purgatory." He let out a sigh. "Life was easier there. I didn't have to ask myself if a kill was justified, everything there is a monster. Everything there deserves to die." He tried to not think of Cas and Benny, those were exceptions. "I fit right in."
Mac lay still at his side and it was too dark to see if he was awake but Dean knew that he was listening. He would listen as long as Dean needed to talk.
It became some kind of a ritual to them. They went to bed and while he waited for sleep to claim him, Dean talked. Mostly light-hearted stuff. About his day and the plans for the week. About Sam and the next hunt. Sometimes he talked about Bobby and his mom. Not so much about his dad, that was too complicated for drifting off to sleep.
But when he woke up from nightmares and didn't dare to go back to sleep, he talked about things he'd never said out loud before.
"Today I just wanted to drink myself into oblivion but I don't know what I'd do if I lose control."
"I should put a bullet in my brain but I'm not sure if I can die. I don't want to become a demon again."
He wasn't even sure why he was telling Mac all those things but he did and it kinda helped. The Mark was still there and it probably would stay for the rest of his life but that wasn't that of a scary thought anymore.
Sam didn't say anything but Dean knew that he had noticed it too. Even when he'd fully recovered from the concussion, and the twisted ankle he got when he got thrown around the graveyard on their next hunt, Sam didn't return to his research on the Mark with the same urgency.
Sometimes Sam even went totally off topic with his research. Dean never caught him watching porn but once he caught a glimpse of something about service dogs for people with PTSD. He didn't even want to know how Sam ended up there but it was for sure nothing related to a case.
But Sam had always wanted to know everything. Dean still remembered the dinosaur phase. If he never heard something about dinosaurs ever again, it would be too soon. Watching Jurassic Park with Sam still was no fun.
There was, however, a growing problem.
They sat over dinner, Sam and Dean with steak and baked potato and Mac with a can of dog food, when Dean noticed something.
"He's gotten bigger again." And heavier, he'd noticed that last night. Not long now before Mac would get too heavy to lie on his chest.
"What did you expect?" Sam shrugged. "That he'd stay a piglet forever?" He paused with a frown and Dean just knew that he was wondering if Mac could do that.
"How big is he going to get?" Dean asked, watching Mac digging into his food.
"You saw his mother." Sam said. "He's a boar so he's most likely going to be bigger than that."
Dean thought about it. "So about 800 pounds and what? Three and a half foot tall?"
"Super." Dean leaned back in his chair with a considering look at Mac who was following their conversation with interest.
"Hmm?" Sam made, once again not seeing the obvious problem.
"The car is with us and the weapons alone loaded pretty good." Dean pointed out. "800 on top of that is a lot. I'll have to have a look at the axes before he grows that big."
How he would fit a 800 pound boar in his bed was another problem he would need to think about.