Disclaimer: Nope, nothing is mine, more's the pity.

A/N: A seriously deranged plot bunny crept up and attacked me all unaware. Just a bit of crack fic. Enjoy. Please read and review.

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A Cure for the Common Cold

There were many concepts of Hell. Dante and his levels—some pretty disgusting ones, too, if you asked him (Dean wondered briefly what Sam would think if he knew that Dean had actually read Dante's Inferno. Since he had never visited Hell, he figured he should read up on any and every possibility). Puritan hellfire. Bes eating your heart and giving you the Second (and Final) Death. Hinduism's "frightful regions of Yama." Greek Tartarus. Islamic jahannam. Buddhist indecision: real place or state of mind.

They were all, of course, completely, totally, absolutely wrong. Hell was spending two weeks, 24/7, with a younger brother who had been infected with the Mother of All Respiratory Infections by a piss-ass demon ticked off at being exorcised and sent back to Hades. Two weeks—24-Freaking-7!—of nonstop hacking, sneezing, nose-blowing and guts-puking. (And, since this was Sammy, whining and brooding.) Two fucking weeks of no sleep and cleaning vomit off his beloved car, along with sundry motel walls, floors and furniture. Two weeks of trying to throw away mountains of God-knows-what-filled tissues without actually touching them. Fourteen whole days of trying to get Sam to eat something, anything, before he collapsed from starvation, leaving his older brother to try to haul Sam's comatose fifteen-foot frame—it was interesting how the more unconscious Sam was, the bigger he got; some mystical rule of physics no doubt—around the country.

Needless to say, hunting had gone by the wayside. Sam could barely see straight, much less hold a weapon, and Dean was not leaving his brother alone for any length of time. Medications had proved useless and Dean was ready to turn to any means necessary to solve the problem. He told Sam they were heading south toward voudon country, to see if an old acquaintance, Marie DuBois, could do something.

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They drove through the booming metropolis of Altenburg, Missouri (pop. 309), having passed St. Louis an hour or so back. Dean had called ahead to a small motel just south of town and booked a room for the night. Both of them were exhausted from lack of sleep and driving all night was not an option. Just beyond the town center, the road became dark and empty again. Dean suddenly slapped his hand on the wheel, then angled the Impala over to the side of the road and stopped.

Sam, busily going through yet another box of Kleenex, roused himself enough to cast an inquiring glance over at his brother.

Dean shook his head slightly. "I think I hear something in the engine. I want to take a quick look in case there's a problem; I don't feel like getting stuck here." He looked over at Sam. "Do you think you can hold a flashlight? I don't want to exhaust the battery leaving the lights on, and it's pitch black out there."

Wearily, Sam nodded and then slowly levered himself out of the car. By the time he inched his way around to the front of the car, Dean had the hood open and was poking around the engine. The flashlight, lit, lay on the frame, actually illuminating very little. Sam picked it up and shifted it to provide Dean with more light.

Sam shivered slightly. The night air was chill and he would probably have been cold even if he weren't sick. Fucking demon. Sending it back to Hell was too good for it. He vowed that if he survived this whatever-it-was, he would find an incantation that would outright destroy the evil son-of-a-bitch, should they ever meet it again.

It was also as dark as the Stygian depths. A slight smile touched Sam's lips; he was absurdly pleased that he could even remember the word "Stygian", considering that he had forgotten Dean's name only that morning. Which had not improved his brother's decidedly dicey temper any. Not that Sam could really blame Dean: his illness had wreaked havoc on his older brother as well. There were deep circles under Dean's eyes and he had a definite haunted air.

Haunted was a good word to describe the feel of the area, too. Not just the chill or the seemingly impenetrable darkness. There almost seemed to be voices in the air, whispers among the trees, and patches of greater darkness against the night.

Wow. Sammy the Fearless Demon Hunter, afraid of some shadows! Get it together, dude.

He watched Dean tinker around a bit, then suddenly the hairs on the back of his neck suddenly prickled. Almost a year back in the supernatural-hunting business had taught him not to ignore stuff like that. He started to call out to Dean, but he barely got a chance to open his mouth before there was movement to his left.

It was huge, man-shaped except for the feet, which appeared to be those of a raptor with huge talons. The face, however, had nothing in common with human features. It was monstrous in the extreme and way beyond hideous, capped with burning red eyes and massive fangs.

And when Sam turned his head upon catching the movement, It was all of five millimeters from his nose.

A lifetime associated with the supernatural as well as intense hunting since he had left Stanford some nine months ago were all well and good and had definitely prepared Sam to deal with things that would send most people running for the closet (which, come to think of it, was not a great idea; Sam had learned that lots of things loved closets). Still, he dared even his father to have a creature like this pounce without warning and end up eyeball to eyeball with him, and not have a reaction.

Sam reacted. He—as Dean pointed out later with a smirk—"screamed like a girl." The creature uttered an ear-splitting roar in response and Sam jumped backward, missed his already-shaky footing and ended up on the ground, what little breath he had these days knocked out of him.

For a moment, he thought he distantly heard Dean say something like, "Begone, foul creature of the night," which was utterly ridiculous as those were words that would never cross his brother's lips, followed by what seemed to be a deep laugh from somewhere in the darkness. Then Dean was kneeling by his side and asking him how many fingers he was holding up.

Sam managed to ask, "Adding up all four hands?" before everything went black.

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Sunlight was streaming through a gap in the window curtains when Sam opened his eyes next. The light was bright and cheery, there were birds chirping happily outside the room and pleasant floral scents drifted in the open window.

Wait a minute. Chirping? Scents? I can hear and smell again!

Sam bolted upright—and stayed up. No dizziness, no nausea, no desperate urge to toss his cookies. In fact, cookies sounded really good right now. Along with eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns…

He wasn't sick anymore! Huzzah! He jumped up out of bed, a broad grin on his face and pumped one arm in the air. Which had the unfortunate effect of letting him get a whiff of his aromatic self. Geez, was he ripe! Personal hygiene had been an early casualty of his illness. He moved "shower" to the top of the To-Do list.

"Yeah, Sammy, I'm with you on that. I left hot water for you." Dean said from the far corner of the room. At Sam's inquiring expression, Dean added, "With the window open, I'm downwind of you."

Dean was seated in one of the chairs at the small table in the corner, the laptop open in front of him. Despite the mocking tone, there was a huge, genuine smile on his face and relief in his eyes.

"You're looking tons better. How do you feel?"

Sam did a mental diagnostic test and smiled back. "Really great. It's as if I've never been sick at all." He frowned in puzzlement. "Wonder how the hell this happened?"

"Pazuzu," Dean said.

"Gesundheit."

Dean rolled his eyes in exasperation. "No, asshole. Pazuzu. As in the Mesopotamian demon. I'm pretty sure that's who it was last night."

"Why?"

"Human shape, eagle's feet, face of a monster," Dean recited. "Sound familiar?" He turned the laptop to face Sam. There was a drawing on the screen that was a pretty good match for what Sam had seen last night.

"Besides," Dean added, "you're feeling better."

"Excuse me?" Sam asked, puzzled. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"Well, according to the lore, even though Pazuzu was a demon, he wasn't all that bad a guy. Well, sometimes, anyway. He was invoked to combat illness, which the Mesopotamians believed was caused by the evil goddess Lamashtu. And get this: he cured people by scaring them well!"

Sam cleared his throat uncomfortably. "He didn't scare me," he said, knowing that Dean wouldn't buy that for a minute.

He was right.

"Sure thing, Sammy. I guess you were just practicing for a church choir when you screamed like a girl. And then fell down. Dude, face it; you were Pazuzu-ed." Dean followed that with a roar of laughter.

Scowling, Sam grabbed his clothes and headed for the bathroom. He could still hear Dean's guffaws after he shut the door and started the shower.

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By evening, Sam was deep into research on the laptop. After two weeks of being as sick as the proverbial dog, Sam was definitely looking to nail something supernatural's ass to the wall, a sentiment with which Dean heartily agreed.

Perfect time to make a break for it.

Dean casually stood up and stretched. "I'm going for a spin, Sam. Feels good to get out of a motel room without going for more tissues or medicine."

"Uh huh," Sam said, staring at the screen. There was no doubt in Dean's mind that Sam had no idea what Dean has just said to him.

Dean started the Impala's engine and pulled out of the parking lot and toward the small eatery he had gone to for breakfast that morning. When he left the diner some fifteen minutes after arriving, he was carrying a huge carton filled with steaming burgers, fries, hot dogs and steak sandwiches, which had been handed to him with a sarcastic, "Tapeworm, honey?" by an astonished waitress.

Gunning the motor, he headed back to the spot where he had stopped the Impala the night before. He parked there again, then got out and opened the trunk. The mouth-watering smells drifted out and wafted away on the night air.

A few minutes later, there was a movement among the deeper shadows and the same monstrous figure appeared again. Dean straightened up from where he had been leaning on his baby and smiled.

"Hey, Pazuzu, how's it going? Nice work, by the way. Sam is totally cured!"

"Of course. I never fail. It's why you invoked me, after all."

Dean waved at the trunk. "Here's your offerings, just as promised." He cocked his head. "Kinda surprised you wanted this stuff."

Pazuzu reached in and grabbed one of the wrapped packages. "Really? In case you haven't noticed, Winchester, there aren't too many Mesopotamians around these days. Goat sacrifices are few and far between."

"Whatever. I'm just glad you didn't ask for any virgins."

Around a mouthful of burger, Pazuzu said, "Virgins are more trouble than they're worth. Trust me."

Dean snorted. "Tell me about it." He pulled the carton out and placed it on the ground in front of the demon. "Better head back before Sam becomes suspicious."

"You going to tell him you set it up?" Pazuzu asked with a slight smile. Which, considering the size and number of his fangs, was indeed a sight to behold.

"Sure thing. The very day Sammy starts dressing like Madonna."

"So…never, then. Figured as much." The demon hoisted the carton in one hand and began to fade away. "This stuff is good. Let me know if you need any other cures."

Dean laughed and slid into the Impala. The roar of the engine faded away as the car sped down the road and disappeared around a curve, leaving only silence behind.

Except for the occasional satisfied sigh and one faint exclamation:

"Curly fries!"

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A/N: Well, I did say "deranged"! Please let me know what you thought.