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Title: Timeō Angelōs et Dōna Ferentīs ~ I fear angels, even bringing gifts.
Author: paleogymnast
Betas: calamitycrow, sleepwalker1015, and Carlos (who still doesn't have an LJ)
Fandom/Genre: Supernatural, Gen, hurt/comfort, semi-AU
Spoilers: Everything up through 5.04 ("The End") is fair game; goes AU after that
Rating: R for language, and possibly disturbng medical immagery
Word Count 14,271 (in two parts, second part linked at end of first)
Prompt: #25:Sam, Dean, gen.
I've seen this one a few times now, but there can never be enough! Muhaha. Dean's rehymenated body doesn't have all the immunities his old body had built up and he gets sick over and over again. In the middle of a war with all the odds already stacked against them, it's kind of a problem. Prompted by hoodietime.
A/N 1: Written for the Dean-centric hurt-comfort challenge on hoodie_time
A/N 2: The title is a twist on the famous quote about the trojan horse from Book II of The Aeneid by Virgil. The original quote is "Timeō Danaōs et Dōna Ferentīs" or "I fear Greeks, even bearing gifts."
A/N 3: I am so sorry for the wait. Most stories I've seen that have interpreted the idea of Dean's "rehymenation" leaving him without immunities have picked up right after he got back from hell. But I got to thinking about how Cas lurking around and repeatedly healing Dean and the Angels being more or less happy with Dean's obedience might have influenced the onset of his symptoms... this fic is the result. I hope you like it.


It took a while to get back ‘in the swing of things,’ and Sam was pretty sure life on the road with Dean would never be quite the same. Sure, Dean looked healthy now, and aside from the occasional scheduled stop at a clinic for a booster shot, their lives were mostly… normal. Well, what currently passed for normal for a Winchester. Some things had changed though; little things, not the pattern of driving back and forth across the highways of America in the Impala. Not the routine of research, impersonation, and trying to keep the civilians out of harm’s way. But they paid more attention to where they stayed and what they ate. Staying at the cheapest, rat-infested, no-tell motel just wasn’t an option if it meant exposing Dean to germs, dirt, and who knew what else. They picked cleaner places and invested in a microfiber sleep sack—one of those funny things found in catalogues full of ridiculous accessories for the truly snobby. Only here, it was necessary, providing a barrier they could wash and store safely that protected Dean from whatever detritus was left behind on motel sheets.

They avoided the seedier diners, and Dean carried a mask with him everywhere he went. It was by no means a guarantee against him contracting something, but at least when they were stuck near someone obviously sick, Dean could whip it out and maybe buy himself a little extra protection. Dean even added some supposed ‘immune system–boosting’ foods to his diet, with far less complaint than Sam would have expected. Sam called Dean on it one day when he was downing a tall glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice after eating a bowl of yogurt—something Dean wouldn’t have been caught dead doing just months before.

“What about it?” Dean asked looking, vaguely annoyed that Sam had raised the question.

“I always tried to get you to eat fewer cheese burgers, and more… everything else, but you never listened. Why change now?” Sam explained.

“‘Cause if it means the difference between letting those dicks, the Angels, win and avoiding the apocalypse, then I’ll eat every granola hippie new-agey thing you throw my way,” Dean explained with a clear note of contempt.

“That simple?”

“Yeah,” Dean confirmed, finishing his orange juice with an affected lip-smack and slamming the glass down on the table in their current motel room kitchenette. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna have more yogurt.”

Sam was even pretty sure Dean was more selective with his conquests—while it might have been (on some tactless, tasteless Dean level) funny before—before Dean got sick—to worry about ‘catching something’ from one of his skankier hookups, now even locking lips with someone who had a cold could turn into a big problem. Sam had teased Dean about his lack of selectivity in the past, but now he just felt a little sad that the Angels’ relentless quest to bring about the apocalypse had now robbed Dean of even that little freedom. Dean simply couldn’t afford to make any mistakes.

Cas was more or less traveling with them now too. He still popped in and out with awkward angelic timing and occasionally stayed away for days at time on his quest to find God or to follow up on a rumor or even, occasionally, helping Bobby out, cleaning his home so it was safe for Dean to visit; but most of the time he accompanied them, either riding along in the Impala or showing up at their destination, helping out however he could. Thankfully, he was finally learning to keep his mouth shut when he didn’t understand the social dynamics, which meant his help was more, well, helpful and less stressful all around.

Now that Dean was strong enough to hunt, he was very eager to get back to the job. He took to exorcisms and salt-and-burns with an enthusiasm Sam had never seen before. Every new hunt, whether one actually related to the apocalypse or just your garden variety vengeful spirit, was like a key battle for Dean. He threw himself into planning, even taking time to do research, often hogging Sam’s laptop, or occasionally going to a library.

It worried Sam; maybe Dean was losing himself in hunting again, going off the deep end a bit like he had after Dad had died? Sam voiced his concerns to Bobby one night, when they were on a pit stop in South Dakota—another thing that had changed, they were checking in with Bobby much more frequently (now that most of his house, at least, resembled a shrine to cleanliness), and retracing the same steps, making frequent stops in Seattle. It could be risky—the more predictable their movements were or the longer they stayed in one place, the more likely an angel or demon could find them—but it was necessary, or at least it felt like the right thing to do. Having common places to stay where they knew what was (and wasn’t) safe for Dean meant less time spent agonizing over every detail of their accommodations. Was the bathroom clean enough? What kind of disinfectants did the cleaning staff use? Was there a cleaning staff? If Dean caught something—which he did with alarming frequency—would it be a relatively mild infection that added to his overall immunity, or would it be another disaster that would send them running back to the hospital with yet another complication? So stay at Bobby’s they did, whenever they were passing through (and if they adjusted their travel plans to ‘pass through’ South Dakota with striking regularity, Bobby sure wasn’t going to call them on it).

“I’m worried,” Sam finally admitted in Bobby’s office sacked out in a chair he’d pulled close to the fireplace, “Dean’s—it’s like he’s obsessed with hunting again. Maybe not obsessed, but he seems to like it again. He’s taking pleasure from it. From killing things. And I think maybe he’s over-exerting himself too,” he stammered. Dean and Cas both were already in their beds. Sam couldn’t sleep, and Bobby had been burning the midnight oil cross-referencing research on Revelations omens that seemed to be pointing to the rise of another horseman.

Bobby rolled closer to Sam, executing a narrow turn around the corner of his overflowing desk and stopping in front of Sam, facing him knee to knee. “Dean’s not you, you idjit. Just ‘cause you have problems with deriving too much pleasure,” his emphasis colored the word, “from hunting and it led you off the deep end, doesn’t mean that Dean’s got to worry about that.” Bobby sighed and shook his head. “He’s got his own problems.”

“But, what about after Dad died. He threw himself into the job then, got obsessed. Almost self-destructed. How do we know he’s not going to do the same thing again?” Sam let his worry show in his voice, not caring if he came off close to frantic.

“Does this Dean act anything like that Dean did? Think about it, Sam. I’m not seeing any explosions or pointless fights or pleas for attention. He badgered any victims’ families recently? Or made bad decisions about the company he keeps?” Bobby asked, subtly bringing Gordon into the conversation without having to mention his name.

Sam stopped. Really thought about what Bobby was saying. He was right; Dean wasn’t acting like that. But still… “I’m worried he’s going to over-do it. Exhaust himself and get sick again,” Sam admitted. “He’s got to understand, he can’t just—”

Bobby’s glare shut Sam up.

Sam wasn’t entirely sure what he’d said that had set Bobby off, but he was pretty sure he was about to get a stern talking to.

Bobby didn’t speak at first, just looked down at his lap and rocking back and forth, hands skimming along the rims on his chair’s wheels. “Did you ever stop to ask Dean what he was doing? How he felt about how much he could do? Has he been neglecting his health? Skipped any doctor’s appointments? Done anything stupidly risky?” He chose his words carefully speaking in a curt, clipped rhythm.

“No,” Sam admitted. Come to think of it, they’d had another job recently that involved demonic possessions at a middle school, and Dean had stepped back, let Sam and Cas handle it, not risking the exposure to the breeding ground for mono and meningitis and a host of other adolescent plagues.

“I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, Sam, and this might just be something you can’t get, because it doesn’t apply to you,” Bobby began, speaking clearly, his voice cold. “When you lose something, when a part of your life, your health, your capabilities, is taken away from you, people will go out of their way to tell you what you can’t do. What you shouldn’t do. What it’s really best that you avoid. And then there’s a whole bunch of things you know are out of the question, and even more shit that you don’t have any say in, because your body’s in control, not you.” He paused, stopping his rocking, tapping his hands hard against the rims and looking up to meet Sam’s eyes. “When that happens, you’ve got to find those things you can do and assert control. If you don’t, you’ll lose yourself. Trust me, I know.”

Sam felt shame washing over him, an uncomfortable twinge growing in his stomach, his ears prickling with heat.

“Hunting is something Dean’s good at, and it’s something he can still do. Now, he’s gotta take some different precautions, and it sounds like he’s doing that, but for the most part, it’s something that’s his that he can exert control over. So he’s doing it as much as he can. Try to be a little understanding, and trust Dean to know what he can and can’t do.”

“Trust Dean?” Sam said with a squeak, because he had to face it, Dean didn’t have the best track record of having a clue what was good for him.

“He doesn’t want the Angels to win, Sam. Defiance is a powerful kick in the pants.” With that Bobby rolled away leaving Sam stewing in thought. He had to admit, Bobby had a point. He just couldn’t help feeling like he was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

~~~


The other shoe dropped—or at least what Sam thought was the other shoe—when they were hunting a werewolf on the Olympic peninsula in Washington, on the outskirts of Forks… even Bobby got the joke in that, and teased them incessantly to “watch out for anyone named Cullen” and to “be sure there weren’t no vampires in the area.” Sam laughed the first few times, but promptly joined Dean in rolling his eyes after the fourth or fifth wise-crack.

They were on their own for this hunt; Cas was actually in South Dakota helping Bobby with some complicated Enochian spell work that should help them pinpoint the locations from which the remaining Horsemen would rise. So, Sam, Dean and the Impala rolled into the incredibly wet, grey, decidedly-less-glamorous-than-in-the-movies town—its lush temperate rainforest greenery overlaid with dull, dreary clouds and ever-present rain—and checked into the cleanest hotel they could find and got to work with research.

The hunt started out well enough, only the reports about the werewolf were inconsistent—the attacks didn’t all fit the same pattern, and people had reported seeing strange disturbances or hearing ‘weird dogs’ at two different locations on the same night. But everything tracked around the full moon, and the five bodies so far—three of them young, female tourists, attacked outside of town on the hiking trails of Bogachiel State Park; two middle-aged male locals, attacked in the parking lot of the same local restaurant—had all had their hearts missing, so boggling pattern and witness discrepancies aside, it was pretty clear they were dealing with a werewolf.

Forks however, was not so great. Or rather, tromping around a huge temperate rainforest in the middle of winter was not so great for Dean. Ever since his initial bout of pneumonia that had developed as a complication of the chicken pox, Dean’s respiratory health had been, well, fragile to put it lightly. He picked up lingering bronchitis with every cold he’d caught, the cough and congestion sometimes lasting weeks after his struggling immune system had finally beaten back the cold’s other symptoms. He’d also had one bad scare during his hospitalization when he’d come down with ventilator-associated pneumonia not long after his anaphylaxis episode. Dean had been relatively lucky, though, because the pneumonia had been relatively localized and had actually responded quickly to antibiotics. However, the combination of respiratory ailments had left Dean particularly vulnerable to damp air, cold air, and air with high mold counts, which collectively described the air in Forks.

It was clear Dean was starting to get sick the first night there. He puttered around the room looking tired, acting lethargic, and stifling increasingly croupy coughs. Sam made a midnight trudge out to the Impala to collect the portable dehumidifier and HEPA air filter (two more additions to their new arsenal) and set them up next to Dean’s bed, where Dean lay—shivering—tucked into his sleep sack with the bed’s comforter and blanket pulled up snugly over that.

“I think maybe you should keep your mouth and nose away from the blankets; there’s probably something on them,” Sam said softly after Dean coughed again.

“I know there’s something on them. I can tell. They’re probably teeming with mold spores and bacteria and viruses, but I’m freezing and this place is too damp, and without the blanket, I’m gonna be too cold to sleep,” Dean retorted, glaring at Sam over the edge of his cocoon.

Sam pondered, as he chucked off his boots, jeans, and shirt, and slipped into the other bed. Dean was right. It was cold, and spending all his energy trying to keep warm wasn’t going to do his health any favors. “I could get the emergency blanket from the Impala?” Sam suggested, silently hoping Dean would decline, since he really didn’t want to get dressed again and head back out in to the cold drizzle.

“Nah,” Dean said, before slipping into a small coughing fit, “Ugh,” he added. “Don’t bother, I’m just gonna tuck the sleep sack over my head and try to keep as much of it between me and the blankets as possible.”

Sam watched as Dean nestled down deeper under the covers, tucking the microfiber layer up over his head. Sam shrugged. It wasn’t ideal, but then again, nothing about this town was.

By the end of their second day, in Forks, Dean had a definite cold—his nose was starting to get red from constantly blowing it—and Sam had left him at the hotel to take a long, hopefully steamy, shower while Sam went out and interviewed witnesses and victims’ families, and hit the library. Alas, thanks to the stories not matching, he wasn’t able to narrow down a list of suspects or even a profile. Discouraged, he came back to the hotel to find Dean stripped down to his boxers laying spread-eagled on his back on his bed, body strategically positioned so it stayed on the surface protected by the sleep sack.

“‘M too hot, ‘cause of this damn cold,” Dean croaked at Sam’s silence. “So, you make any progress?” he asked, drawing Sam out of his shell of worry.

Sam shook his head. “Nope. Nada.” ‘Can’t find anything to connect the full set of victims, and no clues to narrow it down. The only thing I did find,” Sam paused, waiting for Dean’s reaction.

Dean didn’t sit up, but at least turned his head to face Sam and attempted to focus his eyes.

“Is that all three tourist vics were found within a tenth of a mile of the same trail head at Bogachiel…”

“We already—” Dean interrupted.

“Not finished,” Sam explained. “We’ve got three witnesses who all heard the same weird animal noises on along stretches of 101 on the way too that trail head at 10pm, right around the full moon; one of them even heard the noises on the same night vic number two was killed.”

“Huh,” said Dean, finally taking the opportunity to roll up to a hunched seated position. “So what, we got a werewolf with an early bedtime who dozes off and wakes up wolfed out before ten, heads out to the park for an early snack, and then… jogs back into town for another meal a little after closing time?” His brow furrowed as he was wracked by another cough, his expression telling Sam that story didn’t quite make sense.

“Something like that?” Sam suggested. “Look, you’re clearly feeling like shit. Why don’t you stay here, and I’ll go stake out the area along 101 right outside the park, see if I can bag our werewolf. You, take some Advil, rub some Vaporub on your chest, and get some sleep.”

“No,” Dean said scrambling to his feet, even if his movements were a bit stiff, “nuh-uh, Sammy. You know how I feel about you hunting alone, and you know what kind of a trip weres are for both of us. No way in fuck am I letting you go out in the dead of night in the middle of fucking Twilight-ville to hunt a werewolf of unknown identity, while I lay back like a good little boy and try not to let the angels kill me. No, not gonna happen.”

“‘No way in fuck,’ Dean? That’s original,” Sam scoffed to cover up for the twinge he still felt at the allusion to Madison, and the spooky reality Dean’s comment had reinforced. It was an abnormally dangerous hunt—they’d be going out in the woods where there was no light but the stars and full moon, which were both largely hidden by the ever-present cloud cover, to track a werewolf who had stellar night vision, and who could be a linebacker for the local high school football team, for all they knew.

“Sam,” he growled, his tone disinviting argument.

Sam let out a long, low sigh, not liking his options.

“Seriously, let’s just go kill this thing and get out of here. The sooner we get done, the sooner you can drive me to a hospital and check me in,” Dean suggested.

“You need a hospital?” Sam asked; he knew Dean was sick, but when he’d left earlier, it hadn’t been that bad.

“I think I’ve got a lung infection,” Dean admitted. “Maybe it’ll turn into pneumonia, I don’t know. It’s not that bad yet, but you and I both know, I’m not up to fighting that stuff off yet.”

Sam watched as Dean moved stiffly around the room, slowly putting his clothes back on. “Ok,” Sam finally agreed, unable to come up with a better plan. They could bail on the hunt, call in another hunter… but there was no way anyone would get there in time to catch the werewolf this lunar cycle, so they’d risk more victims, and have to wait a month for another shot. And every time they bailed on a hunt they risked alerting Lucifer or the Demons to Dean’s condition (or convincing Zachariah and his minions to try a new twist). Plus, Dean wouldn’t walk away. Sam knew that. Dean had too much riding on being a hunter these days. He needed to save people to feel capable, alive, just like Sam used to need to save people to earn his redemption. There was no point in arguing. For once, Sam thought he understood.

An hour later they were skulking through the underbrush near the trail head where the three female victims had been found. Sure enough, there was a car with out-of-state plates in the parking lot.

“Frigging morons,” Dean griped between coughs, “the park closes at sundown, but do the civilians follow the rules? No. Do they stay away once people start turning up dead? No. Frigging idiots.”

“Maybe they’re camping?” Sam suggested. “The sign says one of the campgrounds is open.”

“Does that look like camping to you?” Dean asked. Sure enough two figures, one male, one female, had stumbled out of the trees giggling and groping each other.

In a flash, a third figure, male, and very obviously a werewolf from the way it was moving, and the inhuman, feral growls it was making, sprang from the trees, lunging for the girl.

“Get down!” Dean shouted, losing his voice to a coughing fit as soon as the words left his lips. The civilians screamed and ran for their car, probably from seeing Sam’s raised gun, and not from the sight of the werewolf.

Sam popped a shot off, but the werewolf was too fast. It dodged, and the bullet barely grazed its leg, leading it to snarl and take off for the woods at a frantic clip.

“Dean, you ok?” Sam asked worriedly.

Dean just waved his hand, still trying to stifle coughs, but he took off after the werewolf, so Sam took that as a ‘yes.’

The tourists’ car screeched out of the parking lot behind them, as they followed the werewolf through the woods. It was tearing along through the underbrush, actually howling, but between the thwapping branches and the relatively low light, both Dean’s and Sam’s shots missed.

Sam could hear Dean wheezing and coughing next to him, but Dean kept going, so Sam too pressed on.

“D’… d’you think it’s leading us somewhere?” Dean gasped after the werewolf stopped abruptly ahead of them, sniffing the air and letting out a long, keening yowl. They’d been jogging along at a breakneck pace for about five minutes. “I mean, that howling’s gotta attract attention, so why’s it doing it?”

Sam’s blood turned to ice as he caught the implication of Dean’s words. “You think?”

“A mate?” Dean whispered.

It would make sense. The conflicting witness accounts. The two victim profiles. Maybe they were killing off anything they sensed as competition for their mate? It wouldn’t be all that different from Madison and Glenn’s hunting patterns back in San Francisco.

Before Sam could speak, a second werewolf, this one female, leapt out of the trees to their right, headed straight for Dean. Sam—primed to constant fear for Dean’s health—shoved Dean out of the way and jumped at the second wolf, hitting hard, and tackling her to the ground before skidding away, rolling, and lining up a shot. “Run,” he screamed, at Dean, as he squeezed the trigger, once, twice. Double tap. Center of mass and head shot, just like Dad had taught them. The second were fell, and Sam turned his attention back to the first were and Dean. Only, Dean wasn’t where he’d landed when Sam had shoved him out of the way—he was running frantically into the woods with the first werewolf chasing after him, apparently seeing Dean—not Sam—as the cause of its mate’s death.

Sam wondered why Dean didn’t turn and shoot until he realized, Dean wouldn’t risk it, not while he was running and Sam was behind him—in the same direction as the werewolf. If he turned around he could hit Sam. So, Sam took a breath, let it out part way, and held it, and squeezed off a shot at the first werewolf’s retreating form. It yelped and fell, as Sam stumbled up a slight rise in the forest, shooting again to make sure it was dead. What a mess, Sam thought sadly, as the werewolf’s eyes cleared and returned to human form in death. He started to flash back to San Francisco, to Madison when a sickeningly wet cough drew him back to the present.

He looked up to see Dean slumped in a heap against the trunk of a tree about twenty feet away. Dean was still hacking, each croupy heave of his lungs sounding more labored. He saw Dean pull his hand away from his mouth and look at it.

“Aw shit,” Dean mumbled.

“What is it?” Sam asked flipping the safety back on his gun, and crossing the distance to Dean’s side.

Dean held up his hand. Blood. “Think I got pneumonia again, Sam,” he wheezed sorrowfully.

“Shit!” Sam echoed, helping Dean to his feet and starting the long trek back to the Impala, his arms wracked protectively around Dean, supporting him and urging him along. He could feel how feverish Dean had become.

Sam’s mind began racing. It was a long way back to the car, but then again, at least the werewolf had led them mostly in the direction of the Impala, which was parked alongside 101, and not in the park. Still, it was almost two miles, and by the time, the Impala’s sleek, black form came into view, glinting in the moonlight, Dean’s energy was almost gone.

Sam bundled his brother into the passenger seat and sprinted around the front of the Impala and slid into the driver’s seat. Fuck. Dean needed a hospital. They needed to get their gear out of the hotel. They couldn’t go the hospital here because, one, Sam was convinced the town was making Dean sick, and two, they couldn’t risk getting caught. No way were they sticking around after a messy hunt with two dead bodies. Sam didn’t even know the identities of the two werewolves—people—he’d killed, but they didn’t have time to stick around and find out. And driving all the way back to Seattle and the familiar, encouraging smile of Dr. Patel, would take too long. Where could they go? Sam didn’t realize he’d been muttering his frantic thoughts aloud until Dean spoke.

“S’m?” Dean mumbled, making Sam jump. “Hosp’t’l in Port Angeles… ‘s far enough, b’not too far.”

Right. Ok. Hotel then hospital. He could do this. Dean would be ok. He had to be.

If Sam left rubber on the road in as he peeled out of the hotel parking lot twenty minutes later, Dean didn’t call him on it. Not since Dean’s resurrection had Sam missed the sound of his brother’s whining so intensely.

~~~


The hospital check-in process was by now a terrifyingly familiar routine. Only now, Dean had a ‘diagnosis’ advertized on the medic-alert bracelet, which made the medical staff spring into action even faster.

Sam couldn’t help feeling like a failure. Like somehow he should have tried harder to keep Dean well. Should have forced Dean to stay away from hunting. But Bobby was right. Dean needed this to feel alive. Besides, it wasn’t like the forces of heaven and hell were ever going to give them a break. Still, the sound of another shoe clamoring as it hit the floor echoed in Sam’s mind with a resounding boom.

Of course the staff needed to know what happened. So, while Dean was getting a chest x-ray, Sam told the closest fib he could get away with, “We were camping and he started feeling sick last night, but insisted he’d be ok until morning. Only then some animal, I’m not sure what, showed up at our campsite, and we had to make a run for it back to the car. Dean got much worse, really fast, and we got here as fast as we could.” It sounded obnoxiously false to Sam’s ears, and he expected to get scolded and chastised by Dean’s doctor, but the doctor and the rest of the staff bought his explanation without even a raised eyebrow, and went about testing and treating Dean.

When Dean had been diagnosed—bacterial pneumonia in his left lung with pleural effusion, which was carrying bacteria—and was undergoing treatment—IV antibiotics and a chest tube to drain the fluid around his left lung—Sam sat down at Dean’s bedside, head in his hands, and spilled his guts. All his fears. The feelings of inadequacy, the guilt, the regret, the worries about continued hunting; it all spilled out. Sam just wasn’t sure they could keep doing this. Keep being Winchesters, not if Dean was going to keep getting sick. If Dean didn’t cave to the angels, then Sam was afraid he would say ‘yes’ to Lucifer—at least if Dean got sick enough…

Dean just laid there and took it all in. Regarding Sam with a kind of weary understanding that was far too sage and sane for how disjointed and unbalanced Sam was feeling.

“I… every day, I have all the same feelings, all the same doubts,” Dean croaked, at last. “But every day, I’m getting stronger. Every time I get sick, and survive,” he twitched his right hand over to grasp Sam’s, squeezing gently, “it’s one more bullet out of the damn angels’ arsenal. They’re not going to get me to say ‘yes.’ Not Michael or Zachariah or anyone else. And I’m not gonna give up hunting. Not going to stop this fight.” Dean squeezed harder. “And neither are you.”

“But—”

“No buts,” Dean interrupted, “I know this was… scary. Hell, being this sick scared the crap out of me, and when that were was chasing me, and I wasn’t sure I could shoot it without hitting you, and I felt like I was drowning instead of breathing, yeah, that was bad. But I’ve been to hell. And this doesn’t come close.”

Sam looked up and met his brother’s eyes, surprised to find tears there. He felt something wet roll down his own cheek, and swatted at it embarrassedly with the hand Dean wasn’t squeezing.

“Hey, it’s our life. We’re cursed. But I’m not about to give in to this petty, bullshit manipulation. And I’m not gonna let you either.” Dean smiled, and it was a real, honest smile that reached his eyes, and reminded Sam of the days before Lucifer, before Ruby, before Hell…

“’Kay,” Sam choked out with a sniffle. Then he snorted out a laugh when he realized where they were, “Are you sure the Northwest isn’t cursed?”

Dean just squeezed his hand and smiled. And for the first time since they got back on the road together, Sam felt the glimmer of hope swell. They were going to be alright. And no curse nor angelic ‘gift,’ was going to stop them.

Back to part 1.

.

Comments

( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
apieceofcake
Mar. 15th, 2010 09:52 am (UTC)
Enjoyed, thank you :-)
paleogymnast
Mar. 15th, 2010 09:59 am (UTC)
Thanks very much for reading and commenting! Glad that you liked it! :)
zoemathemata
Mar. 15th, 2010 02:11 pm (UTC)
I liked it! Poor Dean, chicken pox, mumps, pneumonia... you sure put him through the ringer!
paleogymnast
Mar. 15th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading! Yeah, I put Dean through the ringer, but that's kind of the idea. With all his immunities gone, he would catch everything.

Thanks for reading!
(Deleted comment)
paleogymnast
Mar. 15th, 2010 02:58 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you!! *smishes* Hugs to you and your kittie for the awesome betaing and quick turn around! I'm very, very glad you liked!
sinnerforhire
Mar. 15th, 2010 02:32 pm (UTC)
This is some grade-A, top-choice Dean!whump and I loved every minute of it. *g*
paleogymnast
Mar. 15th, 2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you for readingand commenting! I wasn't quite sure I was being mean enough to Dean, but if it's "grade-A, top-choice Dean!whump," then it sounds like I must have acheived my goal. :)

I'm really glad you enjoyed this!
catnthecradle
Mar. 15th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
Loved all the Dean whump, and the Sam worry/comfort.

The Angels,(except for Castiel) are definitely big enough dicks enough to try this. I'm really hoping the boys will get to clip their wings soon.

Thank you for sharing.
paleogymnast
Mar. 16th, 2010 09:00 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading! Yes, *nods* the angels (not Cas) really are big dicks, and this is exactly the kind of bullshit I can see them pulling. I'm really glad you liked it, and thanks so much for your comment!! :)
mahthildis
Mar. 15th, 2010 04:45 pm (UTC)
I really liked this! Thank you. :)
paleogymnast
Mar. 16th, 2010 09:01 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm very gad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the comment, and thanks for reading!! :D
dreamlitnight
Mar. 15th, 2010 05:15 pm (UTC)
Lovely, lovely scenes. I really enjoyed the flow of this piece. The voices seemed spot on with the boys and Bobby too. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
paleogymnast
Mar. 16th, 2010 09:18 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm very glad to hear that the flow worked and well... flowed. I was a little nervous I was rushing in places, glossing over details, but then again, I was trying to keep this fic from totally getting away from me... not because I didn't like it, but because I *never* would have finished it if this had turned into the 50,000-word story it could have been. I'm als glad to hear the character voices worked for you! :D I was a little nervous about Dean, since he had to at least seem a little OOC at times, but I tried to make it so that his reaction to the situation was at least plausible given Dean's oh-so-complicated psychology. :) Thanks again for your lovely comment!! :)
hoodietime
Mar. 15th, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)
YAY! Thank-you so much for writing my prompt! Not only was this wonderfully written, but it was whumptastic too. (I think I just made up a new word.) ;D

I really liked what you did with the prompt, how Dean's illnesses were more complicated than the regular post-hell issues. Great choice. And Sam's conversation with Bobby was perfect! And the ending was so beautiful and hopeful after all the lovely angst.

This is my absolute favourite thing, ever:

“I… every day, I have all the same feelings, all the same doubts,” Dean croaked, at last. “But every day, I’m getting stronger. Every time I get sick, and survive,” he twitched his right hand over to grasp Sam’s, squeezing gently, “it’s one more bullet out of the damn angels’ arsenal. They’re not going to get me to say ‘yes.’ Not Michael or Zachariah or anyone else. And I’m not gonna give up hunting. Not going to stop this fight.” Dean squeezed harder. “And neither are you.”

SO GOOD.

This fic was everything I wanted and more; thank-you again! ♥
paleogymnast
Mar. 16th, 2010 09:36 am (UTC)
*flails* *faints*

Wow, thank you!! I was so, so, so nervous I wouldn't do this justice or that the story wouldn't go in the direction you envisioned for the propmt, so I am thrilled and relieved and THRILLED some more to know you liked it! And whumptastic is an awesome word!! (Now, pardon me for going all meta in my comment!)

I'd actually peripherally toyed with the idea of writing this story (or a story like it before reading your prompt, but your prompt was what made me hunker down and think about atually committing the concept to paper, or, er, bits and bytes. I've read a lot of variations on the "rehymenation leaves Dean without immunities he would have had" fics, and generally I love them. I like the idea in general because 1) it gives us awesome sick and sick-hurt Dean and 2) it makes logical sense. His body came back without any scars, which is most easily interpreted as being 'perfected' or being 'restored.' Why not *everything* about his body then? Why only the visual stuff? It stands to reason Dean's immune system could either come out 'perfected' (immune to everything) or 'restored' (back at square one like a fresh, brand new body without any acquired immunities or vaccinations). But most of the fics I've read have kind of stopped at taking the acquired immunities idea to its logical conclusion and just had Dean get sick a lot or surprisingly get some disease he'd gotten before.

So that got me to thinking... how would the angels use this? Would it be an accident? (And even here as written, it's plausible the angels just didn't understand; they are completely clueless about humanity, after all.) Could it serve some other, more angelically sinister purpose? Then there was the matter of timing. I didn't feel comfortable exploring this idea and going AU in the season 4 framework, or trying to make it stay canonically plausible while taking place in Season 4... Dean's too lost, vulnerable, and isolated, and Sam well... Sam was too deeply lost in addiction, pain, greif, and more addiction to have played the sort of role I wanted him to play. Besides, Cas was busy being Dean's guardian angel, had full powers, and indeed repeatedly *healed* Dean... which would at least temporarily resolve any problems caused by his lack of immunities.

So that leaves Season 5. Right off the bat, Dean gets healed again, and then Zachariah and company are still hoping he'll come around (and possibly playing nice with his immunities) right up until the end of "The End." That's when Dean really says 'NO' definitively, so that seemed like a good place to start weaving the angels' evil web of manipulation. I am very glad it worked out!! :)

Finally, I made Dean a lot more sick (and with a lot more severe/complex illnesses) than pop up in some fics, because I was going for the idea that Dean resurrected is a stranger in a strange land... he's an alien, a person from a newfound continent that's been heretofore isolated, and suddenly he's interacting with this strange new world, where positively everything is infected (or potentially infected) with pathogens his body has never encountered. It's a scary, scary thought, and that's where the story led me.

So, thank you so much for the prompt, the challenge, and for reading. I am really glad you enjoyed the fic, especially Sam and Bobby's conversation and the ending... those were tricky to write, and I'm thrilled to hear I got it right (or close to it, anyway). :)
(no subject) - hoodietime - Mar. 16th, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paleogymnast - Mar. 16th, 2010 03:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
embroiderama
Mar. 15th, 2010 08:14 pm (UTC)
Oh man, ANOTHER awesome story from you today! You did a fantastic job of beating Dean up here, and I love the way he found that giving in to taking care of his illneses was the way to NOT give in to the angels. Sam's worry was also lovely.
paleogymnast
Mar. 16th, 2010 09:37 am (UTC)
*squee* Thank you for reading and for your lovely comment!! I'd been working on both of these for ages, trying to get them done on time for the challenge!! I am glad you approve of my efforts to beat up Dean!! :) And I'm especially thrilled you liked his realization that taking care of himself was actually an act of Defiance! Go Dean!! :)
snowphilosophy
Mar. 15th, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
I loved this!

Poor Dean! I really like that he accepted the situation and tried to look after himself.
paleogymnast
Mar. 16th, 2010 09:38 am (UTC)
Aww, thank you!! Thanks for reading and for your lovely comment! :) Yep, Dean does have some sense, and he'll always figure things out if it involves sticking it to an angel who's being a dick... here it just managed to convince him to take care of himself!! :)
sleepwalker1015
Mar. 16th, 2010 01:07 am (UTC)
We're not cursed we just have bad luck here... I swear!! Come back up and I'll prove it.
Wonderful as always, thanks for keeping me entertained yesterday! Now get back to work.
paleogymnast
Mar. 16th, 2010 02:23 am (UTC)
Uh. What do you mean get back to work.I was at work all day. I was writing on the weekend when I don't have to go to work?

I write every day too... when I'm home from work.

Thanks so much for reading and betaing. I am glad you enjoyed the finished product!

Also, I KNOW the Northwest isn't cursed... I think Sam's the one you need to be convincing. :)
(no subject) - sleepwalker1015 - Mar. 16th, 2010 03:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paleogymnast - Mar. 17th, 2010 07:11 am (UTC) - Expand
janissa11
Mar. 16th, 2010 12:30 pm (UTC)
Aw man, I'm such a fan of the rehymenated/immunocompromised!Dean idea. And this was FABULOUS. I love that Dean accepted the situation, that it was in some ways SAM who struggled with it, and I adore Bobby's speech to Sam in part 2. Excellent!
paleogymnast
Mar. 16th, 2010 03:12 pm (UTC)
Yay! Glad you liked this!! Thanks for reading and commenting!

I'm very glad you liked the conversation with Bobby. I was trying to keep that in character (and talk some sense into Sam), and it sounds like I succeeded.

As for Sam being the one who struggled, in my experience it's always easier to be the one who's sick or hurt than a family member or friend looking on because as the "patient" whatever's going on is your reality. You can't escape it, but you're also in it, knowing what's going on with your body/mind/etc., so while it may not be fun, it's often easier to accept/cope/move past than it is for a loved one looking on. I'm glad that came across plausibly here! :)
mtee
Mar. 22nd, 2010 08:10 pm (UTC)
Very good story.
It was a good concept.
Thank you
paleogymnast
Mar. 23rd, 2010 05:33 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for reading!! I'm glad you enjoyed the concept, although since this was written from a prompt, I can't take full credit. :) Thanks for your comment and for reading!! :D
(no subject) - paleogymnast - May. 12th, 2010 03:13 am (UTC) - Expand
hoodietime
May. 12th, 2010 12:37 am (UTC)
Hey. This has been recced here at hoodie_time tooooo!
heather03nmg
Dec. 14th, 2010 08:54 pm (UTC)
You are awesome as always. And this fic was just amazing. It had everything the season lacked. Wish you wrote for the show!!
paleogymnast
Dec. 15th, 2010 05:50 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for reading! I'm thrilled you enjoyed the story!! :D *blushes*
( 33 comments — Leave a comment )

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