Rating/Pairing: Gen. No applicable pairing -- Dean, Sam.
Summary: No spoilers. Some things you never see coming.
Many thanks to my betas: raynedanser, i_naiad, and Bone. All errors are mine.
Apologies to dog lovers. I have five, myself, and all dogs go to heaven.
Laid Low by Achilles
Dean, Sam has decided, has an Indiana Jones complex. When faced with something that displays nasty, sharp edges, like claws or fangs, Dean would rather shoot first and figure out bindings or exorcism later. Which for some things works, really, really well. Specifically things that have possessed corporeal bodies. The problem with that strategy is that taking out the body, in this case a good sized German Sheppard, doesn't necessarily stop the thing possessing it.
And it pisses off pet owners really badly.
Not that he's complaining at the moment, because demon or dog, nasty teeth are nasty teeth and he can feel all four punctures like the dog's teeth were dipped in acid.
"Can you walk?" Dean's in his face now. There's no telling where the spirit or demon went. It could be in a squirrel for all they know. There's blood streaming down Sam's thigh, soaking his jeans. The bites went right into the muscle but he doesn't think he's got any broken bones.
"Get me up and we'll find out," Sam says through gritted teeth and tastes blood when Dean gets his hands under Sam's arms and hauls him up. "Gah…shit," Sam hisses. "Walk, yes. Run, no," he figures out pretty quickly. The leg will hold him but it hurts like hell. Normally he's not squeamish about blood, even his own, but the feel of his own blood sliding down his leg makes him slightly nauseated. "Where did it go?"
"Hell, if I know," Dean says and he sounds pissed off, but he gets a shoulder under Sam's, keeping his gun hand free. He lets Sam lean on him to take a few shaky steps forward.
The growl behind them changes Sam's mind about running.
"Salt!" he yells and Dean has to let him go to run to the car, but he shoves the gun in Sam's hand.
And that worked so well the first time.
It doesn't stop the dog -- the now possessed and dead dog -- but it slows it down. Even a dead dog can't run fast when Sam manages to put three rounds into a foreleg, snapping the bone. But dead dogs feel no pain, and it keeps coming. Sam runs out of bullets before he can repeat his target practice on the other leg and by then the dog is moving a whole lot faster than Sam can.
Slamming into Dean almost takes them both down but Dean's steadier on his feet and he doesn't hesitate to shove Sam down no matter how badly Sam is hurt. Dead is worse. He grabs Sam's shoulder to make sure he's inside the half closed circle of salt and then closes the gap.
The ring of salt makes the dog snarl in frustration, limping just outside the ring, eyes pretty hellhoundish red. Dean takes the gun back and reloads the clip.
"Aim for the legs," Sam tells him.
"Bull shit. Aim for the heart."
"It's dead, Dean."
Dean grins at him, waggles the gun. "Sampler load. Let's try silver."
Dean's a good shot. The bullet goes into the chest when the dog turns. It snarls.
"Okay, oak load…"
"Oak?" Sam asks, staring at him. He'd really like to stretch his leg out but the circle's not that big.
"Little, itty, bitty wooden stake." Dean sounds inordinately pleased with himself.
"Great if it's a vampire, which it is not," Sam points out.
"Could be a vampire familiar." The second shot catches the dog in the side and it yelps but doesn't drop.
"Holy water," Dean says, sounding really put out.
"What else have you got in there?"
"Oil of rose, mercury…and uhm, rock salt and rowan ash. Let no tradition go untried."
It's the holy water that does it and Sam does stretch out his leg when Dean carefully steps out of the circle and starts murmuring the banishing rite. A few minutes later the demon dog starts smoking then burns away in a flash of phosphorus and sulfur, leaving nothing but a dark smear, some fur and a seriously singed dog collar.
Dean's liberal with the salt and holy water and checks the collar, pulling off the blackened tag. "'Tiny'. There's a phone number here."
"Great," Sam says and holds out a hand to let Dean haul him up again. It still hurts but he's not quite so nauseated and the thing is gone. Banished. No more demonized pets to terrorize the neighborhood. Dean gets Sam settled sideways in the passenger seat and rummages in the back for a towel and a bottle of water. He gives Sam the water.
Sam nearly chokes when Dean suddenly lifts his thigh to get the towel under his leg. "Blood's hell on the upholstery, bro'," he says. Sam almost throws the water bottle at him.
Dean packs the gun away and the box of salt but he comes back with the first aid kit and crouches down. Despite his cavalier attitude, there's concern there and when he feels around the punctures, he's pretty gentle. "Dog bites are bad news, Sam," he says. "ER?"
Sam thinks about it. They've got no insurance and no permanent address which means cash or credit that's rapidly becoming harder to come by. "I've had a tetanus shot." A couple in fact. "Let's just…clean it and keep an eye on it."
Dean nods and pulls out his Leatherman, ready to cut the denim but Sam grabs his arm. "Could we go a little easy on the clothes?"
"It's cut them or take them off. You want to take them off here?" Dean asks seriously and Sam gives it some thought. They are a bit off the beaten track from the neighborhood that's been harboring the demon, but somebody may have heard the shots and neither of them want to explain what can't be explained.
"Douse it and get to the hotel," Sam says and grits his teeth again when Dean opens the bottle of rubbing alcohol and just pours.
Sam's pretty sure he's going to be sick, but he manages not to hurl in front of his brother and Dean lets him take as long as he wants to recover from the shock of it -- or he would have if they hadn't heard the sirens just about then.
"We need to move," Sam says and swings his legs into the car. Dean closes the door. Five seconds later they are putting as much distance between themselves and the cops as they can without drawing attention to themselves.
Motel Six never looked so good and the pain in Sam's leg has dulled down to a deep throb that only spikes when he moves it. It's stiff though. When they park, the three steps up make him want to scream even with Dean helping him. "Oil of rose?" he says between hissing breaths that don't seem to be actually bringing oxygen into his lungs. "Isn't that…like for love charms?"
"Usually," Dean says. "But you know…sometimes it calms things down. Or you know, if you want to, like, make a succubus chill a little. Love, not hunger, dude."
It's the most ridiculous thing Sam's ever heard but it also makes him grin. "So, maybe we could have had a demon dog devoted to us? Stop --" he gasps out when he jars his leg and the pain really slams into his skull. For a dog bite this one is starting to worry him. His leg feels hot and he's queasy again.
Dean stops without question, gripping Sam's arms and letting him lean against the wall for a second. "Sam…maybe we should--"
"Just give me a second," Sam manages and after a few seconds the pain subsides. The nausea doesn't.
"We still don't know what it was. It could be…I don't know, venom or poison."
"None of the other animals were anything but vicious," Sam says and takes a deep breath before grabbing for Dean's shoulder.
It's only another twenty feet and Sam makes it without stopping again. Sitting down on the end of the bed is the best thing that's happened to him all night. Dean gets him more water and very briefly rests his hand on Sam's forehead. It's weird enough to make Sam smile again.
"It's August in Georgia, Dean. You're a little flushed yourself."
Dean considers that and nods. "Okay. Can you get your jeans off? I'll go get the kit."
Sam's just as glad Dean isn't there to watch him, because it takes him longer than he expected and hurts worse than he wants Dean to see.
Although he's gonna see the wounds soon enough. They are deep and his jeans stick to them. Blinking sweat out of his eyes, Sam can see bits of cloth in the punctures. Only one of them looks like it might need stitches though and he doesn't mind passing on that little joy if he can.
When Dean comes back he's as efficient at cleaning out the wounds as he is in loading a gun, right down to the tweezers to pull out bits of cloth and a liberal dose of peroxide to froth any other nasty things out of the wounds. All four punctures are bleeding freely when he's done and Sam's feeling sick to his stomach again.
But it's done and Dean presses a thick gauze pad loaded with antibiotic cream over each puncture, then wraps Sam's whole thigh with an ace wrap. The pressure helps more than anything but Sam doesn't turn down the Tylenol.
Dean hands him a clean shirt and offers Sam a choice between gym shorts and sweat pants. Sam goes for the shorts just to make life easier. They'll have to rebandage it in the morning.
"You want to wash up?" Dean asks him, pulling off his own shirt and toeing off his sneakers.
"Shoulda done that first," Sam says and pulls himself up to the head of the bed, propping himself up on the pillows. "No. I'll wait. Go on." His head's starting to pound.
Dean hands him a Coke. "Sugar," he says, like Sam doesn't know the immediate answer to an adrenaline crash is sugar. "I'll grab a shower and go out and get us some grub," Dean says, grabbing towels and starting the shower up before stripping off his jeans.
Dean's got more scars than Sam; scrapes, cuts, a couple of places that look like burns. He's got a nasty gash on the back of his right shoulder that looks years old. Sam's seen most of them but he doesn't know the story behind all of them.
He's got some older ones of his own, including some breaks that have long since healed. When they were kids they seemed to heal up faster than they do now, at least Sam thinks it's true for himself. He's had four years to get unused to thinking of a well-stocked first aid kit like most people think of their cell phones.
The soda helps quiet his stomach and the cooler air of the room feels good. His leg is throbbing but again… as long as he doesn't move it much, it hurts less.
Dean doesn't take that long in the shower. "What do you want to eat?" he asks, getting dressed.
"I'm not that hungry," Sam says and it's true. "Something that will keep."
Dean considers that and nods. "Bread and peanut butter. Always a good choice."
"Maybe some juice?"
Dean makes a face. "All right. Anything else?" he asks and comes closer. Once more he lays his hand on Sam's forehead and frowns. "You're still warm."
"Reaction. I don't feel hot," he says and it's true. "Any idea what that was?"
Dean shrugs. "No idea. Lesser demon; coalition of angry spirits."
"Weird to go after animals rather than people."
"Kinda," Dean agrees. "I don't know, not very powerful, animals are easy to control. It's gone. Be glad. You make a shitty chew toy." Dean pulls a Glock out of his overnight bag and checks the rounds and the safety. "I won't be long. Here." Sam takes it but he's a little confused.
Dean shrugs again. "It's just bullets. Not the greatest part of town."
It takes Sam a couple of seconds to realize Dean needs him to have it more than Sam wants it. He tucks it under his pillow. "Okay. Give the secret knock when you come back so I don't blow your head off."
Dean laughs at that and walks out humming "Knock three times on the ceiling, if you want me."
Sam doesn't remember Dean coming back. He put his head back and closed his eyes, and when he opens them again, it's dark except for the light in the bathroom and he is very, very nauseated.
He can't even tell Dean, doesn't even think to, only rolls to the side of the bed with some vague idea that he can make it to the bathroom or at least to the trashcan before he heaves. He doesn’t quite make it but there's not much in his stomach and what comes up is bitter and sharp as glass. He's so sick at his stomach that he forgets about his leg, right up until he puts weight on it.
Dean is not a deep sleeper.
He's also stronger than Sam at the moment. He doesn't quite carry him to the bathroom but it's close. Sam would say thank you but all he can do is give into the dry heaves and shiver when a cold, wet cloth is pressed to the back of his neck.
The bathroom's barely big enough for the two of them but Dean sits on the edge of the tub, and Sam catches a glimpse of the concern his brother keeps so carefully hidden on his face, but doesn't know what to do with it. When Sam stops heaving he sits back against the door.
"You think you can make it to the car?" Dean asks him.
"I'm good," Sam says. He's not but mostly he just wants to lie down.
"It doesn't hurt that bad," Sam says and it's true. His leg hurts; it's both numb and throbbing but the sharp, burning feeling is gone, replaced by an ache.
Dean swears softly and reaches down to undo the ace wrap. His hands aren't as steady as they usually are. Sam thinks so at least, but he realizes he's shaking too. He feels cold.
The puncture wounds look good when Dean peels the pads back. A little dried blood, some redness right at the edges, but they look good. They aren't swollen any more than Sam thinks they should be and there aren't lines of infection or darkening around them.
"I don't like this," Dean says, cleaning them and bandaging them up again.
"Give it until morning," Sam says, ignoring the fact that morning is only few hours away. "If they look worse, I'll go. No argument."
Dean doesn't look happy with the compromise but he agrees and helps Sam up again.
By the time Sam lays down the room is spinning. Dean moves the trash can next to his bed.
"What made you think of the sampler rounds?" Sam asks when Dean is pulling the blankets up around him.
"Wha--? Oh. Kept confusing which guns had which rounds. This seemed smarter."
"Only if your target doesn't get to you before you find the right bullet," Sam says, pointing out the flaw in his logic. "Mercury?"
Sam rolls his eyes then closes them. "There are no aliens."
"Sam, given what we do know is out there, I wouldn't be too sure. But also, dhampir. Works as well as silver but cheaper."
Sam falls asleep and dreams of half cat-half dog vampires.
Somewhere or somewhen, he realizes he's sick again. But Dean's right there and the cloth is cold and he's not entirely sure that it's Dean talking to him because what he's saying is remarkably tender for his brother. Maybe he's still dreaming.
Dean pulls him out of bed before the dawn breaks and Sam is sick again, and none too steady. But he is sick and he knows it. His leg is only one pain among many because his whole body hurts.
Dean keeps his hand on the back of Sam's neck all the way to the emergency room.
Sam only remembers bright lights and that the ride on the gurney under those lights made him want to hurl again. Dean's voice lances in and out of his awareness like his own heartbeat. He comes around enough to know when the ER Doctor is putting a couple of stitches in his leg and makes a face. There's talk of rabies and the doctor pressing Dean about what happened to the dog.
Someone finally gives him a shot in the ass that eases the nausea and Sam sleeps.
It's not vampires this time and Sam can't get away from the drugs or his own fatigue to pull himself out of his nightmares.
But Dean can and does and when Sam opens his eyes Dean looks worse than Sam feels and that's saying a lot. "You being the handsome one and all," he mumbles and Dean looks confused.
"What's that mean, Sam? You with me?"
"You look like shit…and you're the handsome one," Sam says and Dean drops his head and grins. He does look like shit. He's pale and his eyes are dark, but the corners crinkle up when he smiles.
"Yeah, well, it's been a while since I've stayed up all night with a puking baby brother. How do you feel?"
Sam has to think about it. "Better I think. What -- I got stitched." He doesn't mean it to come out like an accusation but it does.
"That you did. But it's not the bite. Stomach flu, the doctor thinks."
"Flu?" Sam repeats and Dean nods.
"It's been going around. You've probably been getting sick for a couple of days. The bite, the shock, just kind of pushed a little harder than your body can handle."
The flu. Sam would laugh if he could but even the start of it reminds him his stomach's none too happy with him right now. Dean does laugh though, a deep chuckle that ends on a sigh. He rubs his face then pushes his hands through his hair.
He was that worried. Sam isn't surprised by it; he's just surprised Dean's showing it.
"They're getting you some more of the good stuff to take with you. A couple of days of bedrest, fluids, you'll be good."
"I can sleep in the car."
Dean's smile fades and his gaze hardens. "We got no place to be. You feel good enough to get dressed by yourself?"
He doesn't really wait for Sam to answer, only drops his clothes on Sam's lap and leaves the curtained cubicle.
Sam still feels cold but he's not nauseated. He feels weak though and it takes him nearly fifteen minutes to get his shirt and shorts on, and realizes he's got no shoes. When the curtain gets pulled back again, it's the doctor who gives him a sheet of instructions, a little bag of meds, and warns him to take it easy.
When Dean comes back he's smiling again but it's a little forced. He's got coffee and another soda for Sam: ginger ale. "You ready to blow this pop stand?" he asks.
"Yeah. Let's go," Sam says and eases off the bed. His leg twinges and he's not steady and he watches Dean reach out to him and pull back.
He waits though and walks slowly next to Sam, takes the soda back when Sam needs to put a hand to the wall to steady himself.
All the way back to the hotel, Dean is silent. He has the music on but it's not loud. Sam doesn't ask about the hospital bill or what time it is, although the sun's up now. Looks to be close to noon. Sam closes his eyes and tries to figure out what he's done to make Dean so angry.
Dean gets him back to the room and into bed but he's moving toward the door just as soon as Sam is settled. "I'm going to go pick up some soup and stuff. Chicken noodle okay?"
"It's fine," Sam says and he can't figure it out. "You're mad."
"No, I'm not."
"Yes, you are. Why?"
Dean glares at him. "I'm not mad," he says with a significant look that promises that state of affairs could change really fast.
"I'm sorry," Sam says because he doesn’t know what else to say, or why Dean is suddenly --- not angry -- but something less than happy with Sam at the moment.
Dean looks away. "You got sick, Sam. There's nothing to be sorry about. Get some rest."
This time Dean doesn't ask if Sam's got the gun.
Sleep was all Sam wanted but it eludes him totally. The ginger ale goes flat before he finishes it and before Dean gets back.
He gets up once to go to the bathroom and decides the hospital gave him some seriously good shit. He's still lightheaded but not nauseated; weak, but not as cold. A shower would feel great but he's not stupid enough to chance it. The last thing he wants to do is scare Dean again.
He sits down on the closed toilet lid suddenly. Sometimes he's not nearly as smart as he thinks he is.
It makes sense though. Dean's got a bullet for every kind of supernatural creature. He's got spells and incantations memorized the way most people memorize phone numbers. He can identify thirty-two separate kinds of apparitions and most domestic demons.
Nothing in his head or in the trunk of the car can banish a case of the flu though. Sam can't remember the last time he was this sick that didn't involve an outbreak of food poisoning in the college cafeteria. He remembers colds and sniffles as a child. Maybe once or twice an upset stomach, but it's been years. He doesn’t remember Dean ever being sick or his father either. Strong constitutions his father always said but Sam always figured he meant because they could collect scars and bruises and keep going.
Sam also can't remember the last time he saw his brother scared. He's not sure he ever has although he knows it has to happen. Dean is just really good at hiding it. Demon dogs or deadly ghosts, Dean's got a wisecrack for all of it.
Sam moves back to the bed and realizes something else. Dean scared looks exactly like Dean angry.
Dean comes back with Chinese take out, including won-ton soup, a bag of soup and crackers, and a six-pack of ginger ale. He also found a jar of Tang. It's not quite orange juice but it will do.
"We could color code the grips on the guns," Sam says. He's not really hungry but the soup is warm and he wants to make the effort. "How do you get rose oil in a round anyway?"
"What is it with you and the rose oil?" Dean asks around a mouthful of lo mein. "I meant to use Christening oil, okay? For the unbaptised risen dead. I picked up the wrong bottle out of my kit when I was making them."
It didn't answer Sam's question but he lets it slide, kind of. "So why did you have Rose Oil to begin with? You being the handsome one and all."
"I like the way it smells," Dean says which is as lame as it gets and Sam sets his soup aside to lay back down. He's halfway asleep when Dean adds softly, "It reminds me of mom."
Nothing reminds Sam of his mother.
Dean turns off the light by the bed even though it's midday and briefly, very briefly, lays his hand on Sam's forehead again before settling into the far chair with a book on demons.
Sam closes his eyes and realizes that it's not true that nothing reminds him of his mother.