HAIR OF THE DOG Chapters 1 - 6
Sometimes, the cure is worse than the disease ...
A Lyndworm hunt goes south and Dean suffers as a result, nightmarish visions and awesome Sam and Bobby abound, whilst my old friend Tom Matthews from 'Dry' makes an appearance.
A word on Tom; Tom Matthews is my OC; he has only been seen before in my story 'Dry' where Bobby describes him as an old friend, a Doctor who runs an 'off the books' clinic looking after hunters. He is described as short and plump with expressive dark brown eyes. In their first meeting when Dean was, once again, in bad straights, Sam liked him and trusted him on sight.
My story, 'Dry' is not yet posted on LJ, but can be found on Fanfiction.net, under my author name of Dizzo.
Rating: T for nightmarish visions and some bad words
Genre: H/C / Angst
Word Count: 20,500 approx
Disclaimer: Own nothing except my increasingly disturbed mind
Fever-stricken, Dean shivered miserably in the bed; he breathed in the musty notes of poorly aired bed linen and old books that surrounded him.
He knew the room very well; it was decorated, if you could call it that, for practicality not for aesthetic quality; clean but cluttered with books, manuscripts and assorted junk. He was in the room at Bobby's house that the Winchesters called their own.
This time, however, there was no comforting familiarity to the room. It felt somehow different; soulless, empty. There was no smell of Bobby brewing coffee downstairs, no radio, no sounds at all, even Rumsfeldt was silent. No fluttering of the curtains in the breeze from the open window; in fact, no breeze at all. The air was as still and as featureless as the plastered walls which surrounded it.
The silence surrounded Dean, stifling and suffocating him. Too weak even to move, his fever bright eyes glanced around, scanning the room uneasily. He opened his mouth to call for Sam, but no sound other than a wheezing huff of breath came out.
Suddenly he heard a sound, a tiny, barely audible scuffle. It was followed by another sound, a skittering, scratching sound; light as a whisper.
Widening, nervous eyes continued to scan the still, silent room. A harsh breath caught in his throat as the scuffle sounded again; closer this time.
Then he saw it; a rat. It clambered over the wooden bed frame, and scurried across the blankets. When it stopped, it was sitting on the deepest point of his chest, it's tiny, quivering body gently rocking with his progressively more rapid breaths.
For what seemed like the longest time, they stared at each other. Glassy green eyes stared wide and unblinking at tiny beady, impossibly black orbs.
Dean's eyes broke their focus from his tiny companion as he heard another sound; a tiny scrabbling rustle, impossibly quick and light; his breath hitched at the sound. This time it seemed different; louder maybe? Heavier? Then he realised; multiple. The sound he was hearing was not a scuffle, but lots of scuffling. Far more sound than any one rat could make.
Nervous eyes widened further, tears pooling. He tried to rise, pushing the blankets back, but his muscles failed him.
Feeling like he was pinned to the bed, he watched in horror as another small pointed grey head appeared over the foot of the bed. Jerking wildly, he tried to move, but his attempts were futile.
More rats were now climbing over the side of the bed, a chorus of chittering, squeaking sounds, overplaying a backbeat of scuttling and scrabbling, amplifying as more and more tiny grey bodies squirmed and darted over the side of the bed. Dean convulsed and thrashed, his breath coming in gasps as he tried desperately to escape the banks of tiny grey bodies and trembling whiskers which were congregating on and around him.
He cringed, letting out a hoarse yelp as he felt one squirm it's way under the blankets and scamper along the mattress against his side.
He had lost count, now there were so many, swarming and pouring over the side and bottom of the bed, writhing and squirming on top of and inside the blankets. He gagged at the sour odour of their greasy fur, bucking as they scampered around and over his helpless body; tiny cold feet with needlesharp claws clambering across his twitching legs; clammy fur and trembling whiskers brushing against his arms, yellow, gnawing teeth tugging at the soft fabric of his t-shirt.
He was screaming now, incoherent cries of terror; the word 'Sam' still not able to form in his throat; head thrashing from side to side; the bed was now a throbbing mass of squirming, greasy, tiny grey bodies, wriggling and massing, a single pulsing organism of rats, on his pillow, smothering and surrounding him. A deafening white noise of chattering and squeaking consuming him.
His hands clawed weakly at thin air, fisting and thrashing as the foul, chittering horde gradually engulfed him, his gasping screams becoming shallower and shallower as the pulsating mass closed in over his face …
Bobby, Tom and Sam all held Dean down as he thrashed wildly in the throes of some terrible nightmare. He twisted and arched frantically, grotesque contortions so violent that Sam was genuinely frightened he was going to snap his spine.
Dean was as strong as a bull; they all knew that; but in this condition, it was taking every ounce of their combined strength to hold him down, to stop him from hurting himself further than he had already been hurt. He was little more than a wild animal, reduced to the basest instinct of staying alive – whatever it took.
Sam leaned over, desperately trying to soothe his delirious brother, drag him out of his dreadful reality; staring intently into the glazed, terror-stricken eyes; trying to be visible as he barked the mantra of Dean's name over and over as he had done during the previous terrible episodes Dean had suffered as the vicious poison and it's equally aggressive antidote wreaked havoc through his body.
Dean's skin was slick with sweat as the fever burned hotter and hotter, making it harder to hold onto him, and it was only after the terrible episode had begun to subside that Sam realised with horror that he had gripped Dean's arm so hard his nails had drawn blood.
The three men stood back as their patient sunk limply into the sweat-soaked mattress, returning to his restless, haunted sleep; his ragged gasps gradually subsiding back into the harsh laboured breathing that had become his norm.
Sam turned from the other two men in the room, shaking as he wiped his eyes, struggling to regain some composure.
Bobby hadn't been exaggerating when he said that the Lyndworm blood was a powerful hallucinogen. Sam prayed it would all be over soon, he didn't know how much more of this punishment Dean could take.
He didn't know how much more he could take.
Dean thrust his hands deep into his pockets and scowled, glancing around him, unimpressed. "So Sammy, remind me why I'm standin' here at the end of world, freezin' my awesome ass off in the middle of the friggin' night?"
Sam sighed from behind the Impala's open trunk.
She was parked in a desolate patch of wasteland with a long abandoned quarrying history; a bare and barren moonscape littered with boulders, pot-holes and craters; it clung to the edge of a deep and tangled forest, it's sparse, dry brush twitching forlornly in the night breeze.
"I could be in bed," Dean mumbled irritably under his breath, leaning back against the hood. "or in a bar …" Craning his head back, he huffed out a wisp of vapour trying to make an 'O' and failed.
"We're lookin' for a Lyndworm Dean;" Sam peered around the car, sporting his finest bitchface. "Didn't you listen to word I said yesterday?"
"Ah Sammy, give a man a freakin' break – you were talkin' to me in the middle of America's Next Top Model … my concentration was wanderin' a bit!"
Sam sighed with a shake of the head; "well, concentrate now; this thing is damned dangerous!" Dean at least had the decency to look admonished. "Fourteen walkers and climbers have died around this spot from unidentifiable giant snake bites in the last two months; another eight are missing without trace – presumed eaten."
He stared at Dean who looked distinctly unimpressed.
"So, we're lookin' for some souped-up rattler? Why can't the Parks Authorities clear that up?"
"OK Dean; for one thing, workin' from the fang marks in the victims, it's likely this thing is twenty feet long or more; two, the venom is 100% lethal - slow an' nasty and it's completely unidentifiable and untreatable by modern medicine; and three, it's not a snake it's a member of the dragon family – it has vestigial front legs."
Dean stared at Sam. "I don' know what scares me more – the fact that we're looking for a 20 foot snake or that you used a word like vestigial … what in the friggin' hell are vestigial front legs?"
"Small and useless" snapped Sam, resisting with every fibre of his being the urge to add 'like you'; "an evolutionary remnant."
Dean continued leaning against the Impala, amusing himself by huffing out vapour clouds.
"What's the lore – how do we kill it?"
"The Lore on this thing is real old - dates from medieval times, most European dragon lore does; the general opinion is that iron does the job," Sam replied, slamming the trunk closed and handing Dean a long, vicious looking iron spike, retaining another himself; "but like all reptiles, it's skin is like armour, you've got to get it in a vulnerable spot like it's eyes or it's belly to kill it."
Dean thought for a moment, and then turned to Sam, "Sammy, how come if this thing is 20 foot long, no-one's seen it? I mean, it's not the kind of thing that can curl up under a rock or live in someone's U-bend."
"The skin has chameleon qualities," Sam replied, "it's skin can change to match it's surroundings to the point it's virtually invisible".
"Cool!" Dean looked genuinely impressed.
"You can bet those poor bastards who died didn't see it until the moment they felt it sink it's fangs in." Sam spoke distractedly as he rummaged in his rucksack.
Dean rubbed his forehead; "Okay, so then geek-boy, riddle me this … if this thing is so hard to see, why the hell are we huntin' it in the dark?"
Sam made a mental note never to even attempt to speak to his brother during 'America's Next Top Model' again.
"Because," Sam pulled a gadget out of his rucksack with a flourish, "the one thing it can't camouflage against is night vision goggles!"
Dean nodded appreciatively, "Smart!"
"This is ground zero Dean, the GPS point at the epicentre of all the attacks – if this thing is going to find us; it'll be here!"
Sam lifted the goggles to his face and began to carefully scan the rock-strewn landscape.
Dean was silent, seemingly lost in thought, until he spoke up. "Sam?"
"What?" Sam hissed, from behind the goggles.
"If this thing's got a 100% kill rate, what can we do – apart from die, I mean – if we get bit?"
Sam looked away from the goggles for a moment; "there is a cure, but it's not the kind of thing you'll find in the family medical encyclopedia." He smiled, "Lyndworm blood."
Dean stared at him, "Lyndworm blood?"
"Yup," grinned Sam, "Lyndworm blood is the only cure against its venom".
"Wow – hi-octane hair of the dog!" Dean grinned; "you got any?"
Sam patted his rucksack, "all taken care of dude …"
Dean shook his head. "My brother has a bottle of dragon blood in his bag – and I'm glad. Man, our lives are so screwed!"
"Just gotta know the right contacts on the internet!" Sam smiled as he raised the goggles to his eyes once more.
Dean yawned as he watched fingers of early dawn light trace a line of fire across the horizon. Sitting, knees drawn up to his chest, leaning against the Impala's wheel, he was tired, hungry and bored.
"Sammy, there's no sign of this scaly sonofabitch. I'm tired an' I'm starving - lets give it up, we can come back tomorrow or somethin'."
Sam scanned the horizon and yawned; nodding a reluctant agreement as he opened the Impala's trunk to pack away for the night.
He felt the Impala lurch, and looked up to see the faintest outline of a huge coiled body snaking over her roof, axle bowing under it's weight. The undulating body shimmered like black liquid against her flawless paintwork. Sam gaped, paralysed in momentary shock, but a sudden and hideous strangled cry jolted him back to his senses.
He looked down, his face paling in horror; "DEAN!"
Beside the Impala, Dean was curled up on the ground, arms pinned to his sides, gaping silent and open mouthed as thick coils closed around him, tightening and crushing. Crimson-faced, he gasped and kicked helplessly as Sam sprinted around the car, dodging a huge head which flashed angrily at him with a vicious hiss.
The creature's body was easily the breadth of Sam's chest, flickering and pulsing as it's kaleidoscopic skin mottled and faded around it's surroundings; it's massive coils completely swamping the elder Winchester, with only his weakly twitching legs visible.
Sam thrust the spike at the creature's blurred outline, blinking as he tried to focus on it's indistinct form, making contact with the larger, softer scales across it's belly. It gave a shrieking hiss and lunged viciously at him, it's black blood spraying across his shoulders as he leapt blindly out of it's range, feeling it's hot breath raking the back of his neck.
It lunged again; wide open mouth prominently scarlet against it's obscure, pulsing outline, bearing down on him; long, curved fangs dripping yellow venom. He rolled to one side as it's head smashed into the ground where he had been lying only a second before; it's snout making contact with bone shaking force, dazing it long enough to enable Sam to stumble backwards out of it's range.
He stared up at the creature's body as it arched upwards, looming over him and pinning him against the Impala, flickering in and out of his range of vision like a dying candle flame.
Sam swallowed hard when he saw Dean's unmoving feet, all that was visible of his brother from within the massive scaly knot.
Sam knew he had to act now; blindly thrusting the spike at the creature again, he caught it behind the eye, drawing more thick black blood. It hissed and thrashed, knocking the spike out of Sam's hands with arm-wrenching force. He gasped and managed to grab the fallen spike as the massive head bore down on him again, hissing, and spewing acrid, burning saliva as it lunged at him. With a last desperate effort, he thrust the spike upwards into it's mouth skewering it through the back of the throat.
It's whole body convulsed, skin colours cascading and flashing wildly, forcing Sam to shield his eyes. It uncoiled and thrashed, shrieking and squealing, giving Sam enough time to dart round the back of the impala to grab the second spike. Keeping a close eye on the massive plunging body, he rammed the stake hard into it's belly.
It arched into one mighty spasm, then fell limp to the ground, with a massive crash, into a mass of dust and flying debris.
Sam dropped to his knees, gasping heavily, and coughing through the choking dust, before crawling across to where Dean lay face down, pinned under the colossal creature's dead weight. He dragged his brother's limp form out from under the huge corpse, gently turning him over and laying a large palm flat against his chest, relieved to feel a heartbeat driving shallow, panting breaths.
"Hey Dean, talk to me man", he murmured softly as he brushed the coating of dust from his brother's face.
He took the opportunity to conduct a quick physical check, gently palpitating his brother's rib cage feeling for any crush damage. As he worked his way down the still body, Dean stirred with a soft grunt, "Hey, man" Sam smiled, "I'm not feelin' you up, so don't even ask!"
As he pressed on the floating ribs at his brother's left hand side, he felt a damp warmth, and noticed Dean's brows knot in a pained grimace; concerned, he lifted his hand away and was horrified to see it was slick with blood.
"Jesus, dude, I hope that's not what I think it is …"
Trying to ignore the crawling stabs of fear in his chest, he lifted the hem of the shirt, pulling it halfway up his brother's chest. His guts turned to water when he saw a mass of pooling blood across Dean's stomach, and just above his left hip bone, two perfectly round puncture wounds.
Sam stared in dumbstruck horror at the dark stain on his brother's flank and swallowed back a wave of panic, pulling off his overshirt and pressing it over the wound.
"Dean; oh God, Dean … wake up … please," he croaked frantically.
Inwardly scolding himself for panicking, he forced himself to think straight; right, first off, what did he know about treating poisons?
OK, first, don't let the patient move around, don't get the blood circulating round the body any more than was necessary – check;
Keep them breathing – check; Dean was doing that seemingly okay;
Call the emergency services – check. Sam almost laughed when he imagined the conversation … "Hello 911, how can I help you?" "Oh hi, my brother's been bitten by a mythological poisonous twenty foot creature from medieval folklore that represents an allegory of Man's insignificance in the face of nature's power …"
Ok, may need to pass on that one …
He looked down to see his brother's eyes fluttering open.
"Hey Dean," he murmured softly, one arm instinctively travelling up to rest on his brother's shoulder to prevent him trying to rise.
Dean looked up at Sam, "… got … cuddled by a snake …" he croaked, a lopsided smile playing across his face.
"Yeah, you really scored there;" Sam choked, trying to keep a levity in his voice that wasn't there.
"stomach hur's …"
"Yeah, I know dude, don't move, I'm gonna sort that out," Sam continued to keep a gentle downward pressure on Dean's shoulder, "I'm just going over to the trunk; I've gotta get you some medicine, dude"
Dean looked down at his exposed belly. "bit me?"
"Yeah" sighed Sam, pulling Dean's hand over the bloody cloth on his wound, "hold that." He heaved himself to his feet and headed towards his rucksack in the trunk, "just going to get the medicine – stay put."
Dean nodded, wincing as the tiny movement somehow triggered a twinge in his stomach.
"Came over so fast. Din't see it or hear it." Dean muttered absently staring at the dawn sky as he remained laying flat on his back.
Sam was back at his side, "neither did I dude, I was lookin' in the trunk, the next minute I looked up and you and the impala are gift-wrapped in a giant snake".
Dean turned his head, "did it damage the impala?"
Sam shook his head with a wry smile. Only Dean could be lying on the floor, belly awash with blood, worrying about his car.
"No dude, she's fine!" Sam shuffled round to Dean's head, and slid his hands beneath his brother's shoulders.
"Can't feel my feet Sammy." Dean's eyes darted around, looking for his brother. Sam leaned over the top of Dean's head; "I'm here bro'!"
Dean looked up from his horizontal position at his brother's upside-down smiling face and floppy fringe.
"Get y'hair cut …" he muttered.
"I'm gonna lean you up, 'cos you need to drink something for me," Sam didn't give Dean time to argue and lifted his shoulders, shuffling his knees under them. He leaned forward so Dean's head was propped up against his chest, trying to ignore the pained moan that escaped his brother during the movement.
Sam unscrewed the top of the bottle and handed it to Dean, cringing as the foul, acrid smell assaulted his nostrils.
"Drink it dude" he coaxed, "Uh, down in one, I'd suggest!"
Dean took the small bottle in his hand, looking in disgust at the black syrupy liquid and snorted, his nose wrinkling comically. Sensing Dean's hesitation, Sam grasped the bottle too, and gently but firmly guided it towards Dean's mouth. Dean tried to recoil, but his head was pinned against the rock hard wall of Sam's chest.
"M'okay – don' need help," snapped Dean irritably. Sam reluctantly let go, but his hand hovered near the bottle.
Dean took a shuddering breath and lifted the bottle to his lips, gulping noisily and messily, small grunts escaping the back of his throat as he choked the foul liquid down trying to suppress his overwhelming urge to gag.
He dropped the empty bottle to the ground and went limp, coughing and gasping, his throat convulsing as he fought to keep the vile drink down. Sam's hovering hand moved to rub his chest, when suddenly Dean lurched to the side and vomited violently, his body convulsing as he retched and gagged the Lyndworm blood back out.
Sam sat by helplessly, rubbing Dean's heaving back in a desperate attempt to provide comfort; for whom, he wasn't sure.
By the time, the heaving subsided, Dean was spent; he sunk heavily back onto Sam's knees, gasping for air, shivering miserably, and soaked in his own sweat.
Sam was numb as he reached for his phone, shaky fingers dialled a familiar number.
"Bobby," Sam's voice was shaking so hard, he could barely get the words out, "the Lyndworm, it got Dean, he can't drink the blood. I-I gave it to him, an' he's just sicked it all back up." He hesitated as he fought back rising tears, the words came hard; "Bobby, I don't know what to do …"
"Jeez Sam, I ain't never dealt with one of these before." There was a silent pause for thought, "I think Tom treated a Lyndworm bite a couple of years ago, I'm gonna call him and ask him what he knows; call ya straight back."
Sam clicked the phone shut, and looked down at his brother's pallid face; eyes closed, perspiration beading across his forehead. Sam's trembling hand returned to Dean's chest, gently rubbing; a soothing circular rhythm to bring comfort and reassurance.
"How ya doin' dude?" He was almost scared to ask.
"Good," Dean lied, "feel bit better."
"Liar," whispered Sam, his hand still tracing circles through the soaked material of his brother's T shirt.
"'cept can't feel my feet 'ny more."
Dean's eyes opened a crack and from his elevated position, he saw, for the first time, the Lyndworm's carcass. "C'n get y'self a Lyndworm skin laptop bag," he murmured, trying to bring humour to the situation.
Sam allowed himself a weak smile.
"an' matchin' shoes …" Dean added, barely more than a whisper.
Sam jolted as his phone rang.
"Sam," Bobby's voice was sharp, verging on panicked. "Tom's dealt with this before; you can't make him drink that stuff, it'll burn clean through his stomach." Sam's heart lurched as he heard Bobby's words, "The lore says it has to 'mingle with his blood under three moons." Bobby continued, "Tom interpreted that as it has to go directly into his bloodstream for three days."
Sam nodded silently, shaking so hard he could barely hold the phone as Bobby continued.
"It can't just be any Lyndworm blood; it has to be the blood of the one that bit him – hair of the dog, Sam."
Sam fought to hold back the tears.
"Listen Sam, Tom's on his way over to me, get your brother and a shitload of that thing's blood in the Impala and get your asses over here now."
"Ok Bobby, Sam croaked, looking down through the haze of tears at Dean laying helpless in his lap, "we're on our way."
"Sam, you need to be prepared." Bobby's voice was solemn, Sam could hear the pain just below the surface, "apart from what the venom will do to him, Tom says this stuff is a powerful hallucinogen; as bad trips go, this is the holiday of a lifetime. This ain't gonna be easy."
Sam heard the despair in Bobby's voice.
"For any of us."
"Here they are".
Bobby and Tom were waiting outside the house when the Impala pulled up. The look on Sam's face told the two men everything they needed to know.
They could see Dean curled up on his side across the front bench seat with his eyes closed and his head resting in Sam's lap. From the livid flush of his face, rapid panting breaths and the vomit stains on Sam's jeans, it was clear he was in bad straights.
Sam leaned out of the open window, the fear on his face was palpable; "He's burning up," he yelled, "he's so hot, and he's not talking sense; I think he's delirious".
Tom reached in and laid a palm across Dean's forehead. "Jesus" he muttered when he felt the heat radiating from the glistening face. "Dean" he called softly, "Dean, can you hear me."
The response was no more than a shaky moan. "S'my?" Glassy, unfocussed eyes stared up at Sam, closing as his brother's large hand reached down and gently stroked his cheek.
Tom looked at Sam and across at Bobby. "We need to get him in the house now."
Sam stared up at the two men from his position in the drivers seat, pinned under his barely conscious brother. "Please help him Tom," he pleaded, "he's real bad; he keeps saying he can't feel his legs."
Together the three men manoeuvred Dean out of the car allowing Sam to slip out from underneath him, and take his brother back into his arms; Tom noticed the stains on Sam's jeans.
"He was sick?"
"A couple of times, yeah," Sam replied; "that's why I put him in the front with me, I was afraid he'd choke." Sam looked down at Dean's head resting on his shoulder, he could feel the increasing damp heat radiating through Dean's T shirt, and hear his soft moans muffled against Sam's shoulder. "He's in such a lot of pain, please Tom, you gotta help him."
He looked back as Tom and Bobby followed him up the stairs, "I covered the bite up, like any bleeding wound, and I did what you said", he continued, "I lined the pad with the Lyndworm's blood, hopefully it's got a little bit in his system".
Another pained moan escaped his brother, "sorry dude" whispered Sam, gently laying Dean on top of the bed, taking time to stroke his damp hair back from his sweat slicked forehead. Tom nodded his approval, and lifted the T shirt to look at Sam's handiwork.
"We need to cool him down," Tom announced gravely, "Sam, help me get him undressed."
Bobby fussed and fretted, opening windows and plumping pillows, while Sam and Tom gently worked Dean out of his sodden T-shirt and jeans, a job made more difficult by the elder Winchester's fretful squirming; they both tried hard to keep the distressed hunter calm. Sam looked up at Bobby and was horrified to see tears pooling in the older man's eyes. Despite his own despair, he tried for a reassuring smile; "Hey Bobby, why don't you go and get us some water so we can cool him down?"
Sam watched Bobby go, then turned back to Dean, squeezing a clammy, hot shoulder, as Tom inserted a thermometer into his ear; Tom talked softly to his patient as he waited for the device to beep.
The beep confirmed news they suspected; Tom looked at the device; "crap, it's over 104." He rubbed a hand over Dean's drenched forehead, "OK son, hang in there" Tom reassured kindly, "we're gonna make you more comfortable now." Sam reached up and stroked his brother's clammy face.
Dean fidgeted miserably, turning to face Sam, "S'my, hur's" he whispered, leaning into Sam's touch.
Bobby re-entered the room with a bowl of water and some facecloths; "how is he?" he asked hopefully; face dropping as Sam and Tom stared forlornly back at him.
Without hesitation, Sam took the bowl and sat himself at Dean's shoulder, taking the cloth in hand, he stroked his brother's pain-tensed face. "Hey dude", gonna cool you down now". He wrung out the cloth, and lightly wiped it across the front of Dean's shoulders.
The three men jumped as Dean bucked wildly against the touch. "take it 'way," he moaned.
"What's wrong, bro' does it hurt?" Sam stopped, terrified as Dean fought weakly against his touch.
"Keep going" Tom looked across at Sam, "he's so hot, it probably feels uncomfortably cold, but you've got no choice, we've gotta get that temp down".
Reluctantly, Sam brought the cloth to bear again against his brother's face and neck, grimacing as Dean flinched under the cool touch. "Sorry bro', but you gotta trust us, this will make you feel so much better."
Bobby, took another cloth and sat at Dean's feet. He began to wash down his legs with the cool water.
Dean flailed and kicked weakly, "hur's, go 'way," he cried hoarsely.
Sam hesitated once again, but Tom nodded sternly; "carry on".
Sam watched as Tom undid the large pad of gauze that he had strapped tightly around Dean's midriff; taking a cloth, Tom used the cool water to wash away the crust of dried blood, both his own and the Lyndworm's that coated his abdomen.
Dean bucked and fought as Tom worked, crying out as he palpitated the wound. Sam cringed at the sound and clutched the top of Dean's shaking head, working long fingers through his damp hair. "Shhhhh, it's ok dude, Tom's just trying to help." He stroked and kneaded his brother's hot scalp.
Sam looked over and was shocked to see grey streaks radiating out across Dean's belly from the bite.
"What's that?" he looked at Tom with alarm.
"That's the venom working it's way out from the bite through his bloodstream." Tom traced the marks with his fingertip, looking up at Sam; "keep doing what you're doing, I think it's working, he seems to be calming down a bit."
Dean was indeed calmer, but suddenly, now he seemed too still and deathly quiet. Sam didn't like it; at least when Dean was moving around and protesting, Sam could tell he was alive. He placed his palm on Dean's chest to feel his weak and rapid heartbeat, watching the shuddering rise and fall of his brother's chest.
Tom spoke up and startled him. "just under 102; well done, temp's down, but we don't want it going up again – keep at it!"
Sam sat, absently rubbing the cool cloths over his brother's body, watching as Tom carefully but thoroughly examined Dean.
Eventually, Tom folded his stethoscope up and turned back to Sam.
"We need to start getting some of that thing's blood into him, did you manage to bring some?"
Sam nodded. "It's in the back of the car in a couple of big jars, I wasn't sure how much you wanted, so I just sliced through it's neck and drained what I could."
"I'll get it" came a voice from the end of the bed.
Bobby had been so quiet, working methodically on Dean's legs that Sam had almost forgotten he was there.
As Bobby disappeared, Sam looked up to Tom.
"Bobby said you've treated a Lyndworm bite before."
"Yes, that's right," Tom replied, "about two years ago."
"How did it go?"
Sam noticed Tom look away. The cheerful brown eyes that gave him such an honest and open disposition suddenly looked unusually shifty.
"Uh, well, the thing is Sam, he wasn't a young man. Not in the best of health and…"
"He died?" Sam saved Tom the trouble.
Tom saw the look of despair cross Sam's face, tears filling his eyes, as his hand moulded itself to the contours of his brother's face.
"How do we know this is gonna work?" he whispered.
"Honestly? We don't," Tom stated gently but directly, "this lore is all we have to go on". He looked at Sam intently, "but I am going to work like hell to fix your brother; I'm not gonna lose another one."
Both men looked down at their quiet patient. The fevered flush still very much in evidence across his face and chest, the rest of his shivering body a sickly grey pallor.
Bobby returned to the room, a jar of black sludge in his hand, Sam looked at it with revulsion; the memory of slicing the Lyndworm corpse open to bleed it fresh in his mind. He swallowed back a wave of nausea, closing his eyes, and managing to regain his composure until he opened them again and saw the size of the needle in Tom's hand.
"What the hell?" he asked.
"Yeah" Tom replied apologetically; "this stuff's like treacle – it would never move freely through a regular syringe; this is the biggest one I have. I'm going to inject it into the wound, straight into the point where the venom was injected".
Sam suddenly felt weak; he hated himself for it when Dean was suffering so badly, but Tom noticed it immediately. He held out a steadying hand, and sat Sam down on the other bed, "You ok?"
Sam nodded unconvincingly, and breathed deeply, still fighting a spinning nausea; it was Bobby that caught him as he sunk into a dead faint and toppled off the bed.
Bobby's knees buckled as he took the dead weight of the younger Winchester; manhandling him gently back onto the bed, and glad for the distraction, he removed Sam's boots, fussing around making him comfortable. The boy was exhausted and needed to sleep. A blind man on a galloping horse could see that.
"Get some sleep, Sam," Bobby whispered, making a point of not looking across to the other bed.
Dean's vision swam; bursting spots of light danced before his unfocussed, disorientated eyes against a backdrop of utter darkness.
He was aware of nothing except searing pain in his side; a burning, ripping pain that stole the breath from his lungs and made his head spin; tearing his stomach apart from the inside. He tried to curl up; to hide; to be small; to make the pain go away, but unseen hands restrained him.
An overwhelming nausea engulfed him as he stared down in horror through a haze of tears at his blood-smeared stomach; it was swelling and pulsating even as he watched; icy cold dread gripped his chest, turning his breaths into panting sobs.
His stomach was painfully, grotesquely distended; convulsing and moving; something was crawling around inside him. He was too terrified even to scream, watching in mesmerised revulsion as his belly shifted and stretched over the thing squirming and moving within it.
He retched violently, convulsing as his body acted instinctively to try to dislodge the alien presence within it, but now it was closer to the surface, outlines of a long, flexible body rippling beneath his skin; he clawed frantically at his swollen, undulating stomach, the crawling and scratching tormented him beyond endurance; faster and more aggressively it thrashed and scratched and tore at it's host's body.
Dean found his voice; just as the thing burst from his belly in a crimson spray. As the tiny Lyndworm clawed it's way out of the ragged, bloody remains of his belly, he screamed long and hard, until the cry trailed off into a breathless gurgle.
Sam jolted awake, tumbling off of the bed on hearing the scream to see Tom and Bobby fighting to hold his thrashing brother down. Like a cornered animal, Dean plunged and writhed; howling incoherently, clawing and grasping at thin air over his stomach.
He scrambled over to the bed, pleading eyes looking up to Tom for guidance.
"This stuff is evil," panted Tom, his not insubstantial weight thrown across Dean's heaving shoulders. "It's a powerful and vicious hallucinogen; I don't know what he was just dreaming about, but it wasn't pleasant, whatever it was."
Sam grasped Dean's face, staring intently into the panic-glazed eyes; "Dean" he cried, "Dean, calm down man, please calm down …"
Eventually, Dean's frantic terrors subsided and he sunk bonelessly into the bed; soaked in his own sweat, shaking and gasping uncontrollably; Bobby slumped back down into the chair beside the bed, reaching across to soothe and comfort the stricken hunter.
As pale as a sheet, Bobby was shaking almost as much as Dean; when he turned to Sam, there was a look of utter shock and fear that Sam had never seen in the older man's eyes before.
Sam leaned over, stroking his brother's head, softly hushing and reassuring his brother and his eye scanned Dean's shivering body. It was then he noticed that Dean had wet himself.
He choked back tears; the sight of his big brother, so vulnerable, so helpless was more than he could bear. He took Dean's hand in his and pressed it against his face; "hang in there, dude," he whispered, "please, it's gonna be ok, I promise."
Sam glanced up at Tom; he knew Tom had seen what had happened; an unspoken agreement passed between the two men.
"Bobby, how about some coffee for us all?" Tom smiled at his old friend. "I think we can all use a caffeine kick." Bobby nodded, and heaved himself up out of the chair with a grunt. He hesitated, laying a hand over Dean's hot scalp and glancing across at Sam, before he looked back down to his precious boy, almost scared to break the physical contact.
"He'll be fine now;" Tom reassured, "I've got him." Bobby reluctantly relinquished his hold on Dean's head and slipped out of the room towards the kitchen.
"Sam, can you clean him up?" Tom spoke quietly and kindly; "I think he'd probably prefer you to do it." Sam smiled his silent gratitude; all he knew was that he had utter respect for this man right now.
As Tom checked Dean over, monitoring his temperature and rewrapping his wound, Sam gently and discreetly washed his brother, taking the opportunity to cool him down again on Tom's instruction; changing the bedlinen and changing Dean into fresh boxers, talking softly and soothingly to his brother the whole time. He watched with relief as a calm descended over Dean.
Dean's eyes remained closed, but his mouth worked constantly, whispering and murmuring barely audible words that made no sense. His head twitched from side to side as he huffed and sighed through whatever fretful, dream filled sleep had consumed him.
The three men stood back and drunk their coffee as they watched the elder Winchester rest, enjoying a short respite from the trials of the Lyndworm bite.
Bobby took the nightshift.
He sat beside the bed, watching over the sleeping hunter as the other two men took some well earned rest on Tom's orders; as he had rightly pointed out, none of them were any good to Dean if they were out of their mind with exhaustion.
Behind him, Sam lay on the spare bed; sleep had not come easily to the younger man, but eventually he had slipped into a fitful rest. Tom sat on the other side of the room, in a ramshackle armchair, snoring loudly.
Bobby watched the elder Winchester sleep.
Through the darkness he saw Dean stir weakly with a sigh.
"Hey" whispered Bobby, "what's up son, thirsty?" He reached across, sliding his hand behind Dean's neck, lifting his head, to enable him to drink. To Bobby's delight, Dean drunk clumsily but enthusiastically; "you're wearin' more than you're drinkin', kid," he observed with a smile.
Dean's eyes fluttered open and gazed unseeing through the darkness up at Bobby.
Bobby rubbed a calloused hand over Dean's damp forehead. "You're a bit warm, son;" he whispered, reaching for the bowl of water Tom had left for him.
Dean continued to gaze upwards at the older man; eventually he spoke; his voice was barely a whisper.
Bobby looked down at Dean with a smile, "hey kid, I think you're a bit confused!"
Dean spoke again; quiet, absently; "m-mom ... hur's…"
Bobby closed his eyes when he felt tears pricking, "Hey kid," he whispered, stroking the warm, damp hair, "your Momma's with ya, she'll never leave ya."
Dean shifted on the bed, rubbing his eyes with the back of his hand, and looked up absently at Bobby; after an age he spoke again; "Mom?"
Bobby gazed down at his boy; leaning over him, and thinking back to what the boys had told him years ago. He stroked the warm, clammy face with the back of his hand.
"Go to sleep son, the angels are watching over ya."
Dean's muffled breaths were all that punctuated an overpowering and unnerving silence.
He shifted uncomfortably with a soft moan. His head ached; no, check that – his whole body ached. He opened his eyes; or did he? There was no difference either way. Around him was darkness; crushing, soul-destroying darkness.
He squinted, trying to adjust his eyes, but there simply was no light for his eyes to adjust to. As well as the aching all over his body, there was pain again; the same terrible pain as when the Lyndworm had burst out of his stomach. That's a point; where was the freakin' crater that thing had left? He rubbed a hand over the flat, smooth planes of his abdomen; confusion overtook him.
God, such pain in his belly though. Was he sick? Was it his appendix? That's in that part of the world somewhere … what side was it on? Heck, he wished Sam was here. Sam knew all sorts of shit like that.
As he moved, he banged his elbow on something hard, he reached out to feel a flat upright just inches to his left. His breathing began to quicken as the pain across his stomach intensified like a white heat, making incandescent spots of colour flicker and sparkle before his eyes. With a pained grunt, he brought his knees up, trying to curl into a ball, but something hard above him blocked the movement.
Where was the light? Nowhere can be this black …
He began to squirm, trying to find somewhere away from the pain ripping across his belly, everywhere he moved, his limbs hit solid barriers within inches; he tried to sit up, and his head made heavy contact with a hard barrier above him.
He began to pant heavily; there was an increasing tightness in his chest that was making him breathless.
Then his heart stood still as the awful realisation dawned.
He was in a box. Not just any box; a coffin.
With the realisation; came the sting of bitter tears; terrified despair as claustrophobia took hold with a crushing grip.
He squirmed, moving frantically within the black confines of his tiny prison; Pummelling on the lid, only inches above his nose; his panting breaths turned into massive oxygen-wasting gasps as he cried out for help, the sound seeping into the solid ground around him; going nowhere.
Panic consumed him and his squirming turned into fullscale thrashing, he hammered on the walls and lid of the coffin; his knuckles and fingernails grazing and tearing against the wood. His wide open mouth gaping for what precious dregs of air remained. He tried to scream, but his lungs were so empty and constricted, all he could manage was a hoarse squeak.
His heart pounded in his burning chest, for once the pain in his belly was forgotten. Frantic hands scrabbled at the lid, as the walls closed in on him; down and down, tighter and tighter; he felt his head begin to swim … "not like this; oh God, please, not like this …" his gasps became more and more rapid and shallow, racking sobs shaking his body as his movements became weaker and more spasmodic; chest burning, he gulped the last vestiges of oxygen in the tiny box, as his mouth yawned his final desperate breath.
Sam crouched over the bed trying to comfort his delirious brother. Dean's arms flailed, grasping and reaching for something; Sam knew not what. Whispering soothing nonsense, he held Dean down as he bucked and lashed, glassy, fear-glazed eyes staring straight through his brother to an unfocussed spot somewhere in the distance.
Once again, the fit subsided, and Sam bit back tears as he gently stroked a large flat palm across Dean's sweat soaked forehead. "Hey dude, s'alright, you're safe, all fine now …"
"Hold him still." Sam glanced up on hearing Tom's voice, and his stomach lurched as he saw the massive syringe containing the Lyndworm blood in the Doctor's rock steady hand.
Swallowing weakly, Sam turned away just in time to miss Tom sliding the needle deeply into the angry wound on his brother's side. He heard Dean yelp and felt the flinch, for once glad that Dean was too spent after his latest nightmare to put up too much of a struggle.
Sam felt a hand on his shoulder; he looked up to see Bobby's face smiling at him.
"Coffee for ya;" Bobby placed a mug on the bedside table; and bent to pick up the old damp facecloths they had been using to cool Dean's fever overnight, replacing them with fresh.
Sam watched his brother breathe, watching the strained rise and fall of his chest; he watched his face tense and relax with the pain. He looked anywhere he could except the spot where Tom was working with admirable precision.
Eventually Tom withdrew the needle. He put the empty syringe down on a metal tray behind him and pressed a pad of gauze to the wound.
Sam watched him dabbing the wound; his eyes scanning his brother's pallid abdomen, studying the grey tendrils of poison which spread out from the wound across his belly like frost on a window pane.
"Well, that's it." Tom gave a deep sigh, "that's all the Lyndworm blood I can give him". He turned to Sam; "It's down to him now".
Bobby squeezed Dean's shoulder; "you hear that boy?" he whispered, "you gonna show us that pig-headed stubbornness that you love to piss us all off with, and beat this thing?"
"To be honest," Tom continued, looking at both men, as he gently cleaned the inflamed wound; "I'm amazed he's made it this far".
Sam glanced up. "How so?"
"Well, I'm pretty sure anyone else's heart would have given out with the trauma of the nightmares, the fever, the sickness; everything he's been through over the last three days." He looked at his patient in awed wonder, shaking his head. "No wonder my last Lyndworm bite didn't make it; I only just got the first shot of the stuff into him before he kicked it".
He looked up at Sam with genuine admiration in his brown eyes.
"Your brother is, without doubt, the strongest man I have ever come across."
He went to work with the stethoscope; brow furrowing in concentration as he listened to Dean's gradually slowing heartbeat and his shuddering breaths. He placed the back of his hand across Dean's forehead. "Fancy cooling him off a little for me?"
Sam and Bobby nodded in unison; each taking one of the fresh facecloth, dampening them in the various bowls of water that had been gradually accumulating around the room. Sam sat at Dean's shoulder, and Bobby stationed himself at his by now familiar spot at Dean's feet. Together they went to work; wiping the cooling cloths over Dean''s burning, sweat-soaked skin. Dean's brow knitted and he murmured breathlessly, shifting and squirming uncomfortably under the cold touch. Sam smiled, "stop bein' such a baby, jerk!"
Together the two men worked until Dean looked a lot less flushed and a lot more comfortable.
Tom checked his temperature and gave a satisfied nod; "much better guys; leave him be now; let him rest."
Now that there was no more medicine to give, all they could do was wait; wait and see what would happen. For want of anything else to do, Sam sat at Dean's head and talked. He talked about the Impala, he talked about their best hunts, and he talked about Bobby's dress sense, earning himself a clip round the back of the head. For what seemed like hours, he talked.
Bobby and Tom had left the brothers alone, slipping out of the room to give them some privacy. Every so often, either Bobby or Tom would peer round the door checking that one or both of the boys were OK; keeping Sam plied with coffee and sandwiches.
Sam stroked Dean's head, carding his long fingers through the damp spiky hair at his brother's crown; he gathered his brother in his arms from time to time to enable him to drink the fruit juice that Tom had left and on occasion when Dean's peace was broken by restless fits of shivering or nightmares, he was there; cooling his brother off, or holding him close; making it better.
In his continuing desperation to do something constructive, Sam decided to give Dean a shave. It had been four days since the encounter with the Lyndworm and Dean was sporting an impressive growth of dark stubble across his parchment-grey face.
He was halfway through the exercise when Bobby walked back into the room with another coffee; stopping abruptly and staring in amusement at Dean's foam smeared, half shaven face.
Sam looked up at the older man; "Dean's gonna be pissed if he comes to lookin' like he's been dragged through a hedge."
Bobby shook his head and grinned; "you're not wrong there kid; your brother's looks are his most deadly weapon; at least that's what he thinks!" Sam smiled, "Oh yeah, he takes his looks very seriously; my brother!" Continuing his task, he gently rinsed Dean's clean shaven face and patted it dry, finishing off with a splash of Dean's favourite aftershave lotion.
"There y'go, dude;" Sam smiled, inhaling deeply of his brother's scent; "gorgeous … I could almost fancy you myself!"
He turned to rinse the razor and brush in the bowl beside him, when he heard a faint whisper from the bed.
"don' swing tha' way …"
Chapters 7 - 12 on next post