"Hellfire and Damnation!" Bobby muttered when he banged his knee against the end table just outside his room. He was desperately trying to walk down the dark hallway without disturbing his comrades resting in the back room, but at this point he had made enough noise to wake the boys ten times over. He guessed he had gotten a bit careless since he hadn't had a night of such deep sleep in years which was odd since he chased an ancient werewolf until it was almost morning. It had been a smooth hunt, teamed up with his favorite pseudo sons, Sam and Dean.

"What is that you always tell us about Bull's in a china shop?" Sam smarted, feeling pleased he actually got one on Bobby. The youngest Winchester smiled, but yawned, obviously just waking.

"That you are full of its crap." Leave it to Bobby to one up a smart comment. "It's noon. You Knuckleheads should already be up and at it anyway."

"We'll before sleeping beauty gets up, I'm getting food and a hot shower before he hogs it all. "

"Good plan. You stink to high heavens."

"You might fix the air sometime."

"Now why would I do that? I ain't soft like you princesses. Speaking of… I'll go kick Dean's rear in gear."

Sam nodded with a yawn before he stumbled further down the hallway, still wiping sleep from his eyes as he made his way to the kitchen.

Bobby laughed, thinking no matter how old those boys got, the more they seemed like kids. When he entered the spare room, the hot noon sun already baked the room's air to balmy. The old air conditioner rattled, no longer blowing anything, but humming like there was no tomorrow.

"Rise and shine, your highness! More like a hind ass! It's daylight and we got to take care of that poltergeist tonight. Get a move on!" Launching a throw pillow from Sam's couch, Bobby aimed carefully at the sleeping man on the only bed in the room. The lumpy cushion flew in Dean's direction and hit the mark squarely- smack dab over Dean's head.

Bobby frowned when there was a lack of reaction. That annoyance alone was more than enough to get Dean in full mode smartass. Taking a closer look, he noticed that Dean was hunched over in a fetal position, which wasn't right by any means. Dean always sprawled out like there was never enough room for his appendages. But today, his knees were bent tightly to his chest, leaving enough room for two more people on the bed. He crossed carefully, not so much to keep Dean from waking, but from his own apprehension. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up as he pulled the blanket down.

Dean's body was soaked with sweat, more than a hot evening could do. Lack of air was one thing, but the Dean was drenched. However, it was Dean's face that really alarmed Bobby. The pale face was contorted by pain and his breaths were shallow, quick pants.

Moving Dean's forearm to find a pulse point, Bobby tried to assess him further. A groan of agony instantly stopped him, and shocked him even more. Even through the fabric of Dean's shirt, he could feel the heat. "Damn, you're burning up. Dean? Can you talk to me?"

"Bobby?" his voice was barely a whisper.

"Yeah… Where are you hurtin'?"

"Everywhere. Help me up."

Those words foretold things were worse than Bobby feared. Dean never asked for help, even when he really needed it, except for once a really long time ago. With a sigh of deepest regret and apprehension, Bobby nodded, now sitting on the other side of the bed. For a long moment he watched, hovering and lingering above the face of his friend. Finally, he reached a hand out to rest on Dean's back. "Easy boy."

Dean looked up again and his brow lowered in pain as his spine bent forward. The sharp agony sent a hiss to his lips. After a few moments, he twitched again, feeling the ice cold fingers of pain in his spine and gut. "Bobby……." He panted. "I can't………………I feel sick…I…" He folded his arm, slumped forward on them, and contorted his face to hold back the agony he was feeling.

"Shh...Rest...it's all going to be okay." He watched as Dean's eyes slipped to a close and his breathing fell into an uneasy rhythm. The pale freckled face eased a bit, and as Dean's mouth parted, soft pants escaped, filling the small space between worried sounds. Bobby patted the sleeping man's head in comfort. "Rest a bit."

Bobby's words were short lived as Dean's body lurched and fell from his chair to the floor in spasms of pain. Again, the hunter leaped to his feet and cradled Dean. "Easy. Breathe through it. need to check you out, hold on for me." Bobby sprinted towards his kitchen to the area under the sink, sliding most of the way more than running.

"Whoa! Where's the fire!" Sam asked as the man sprinted passed him.

"DEAN! Somethin's up. He's hotter than a fritter. "I'm not sure what's wrong. For the moment, he is breathing on his own and we can given him something to ease the pain. I am afraid to go to serious pain killers. But we will make him comfortable as we can and..." Bobby's hand latched onto his first aid kit and saw Sam's streaking back towards the spare room, not waiting for Bobby to catch up. In mere seconds he joined a frantic Sam already taking charge over Dean.

"You're on fire." Sam yelled.

"I'm okay." Dean lied.

"Open up, I need to take your temperature." Bobby ordered.

"Can't… gonna be…sick………"

Bobby took that warning instantly, grabbing a dented trash can from under a side table. Dean pushed forward, trying to sit up, but Sam had to help him. Quickly sitting against Dean's back, he maneuvered him, lifting his head and shoulders to aim for the metal container. Suddenly Dean shot forward as series of dry heaves began. Dean's dulled eyes begged for relief. Soon the heaves turned to retches, then the contents of Dean's stomach voided. The dry heaves began to choke his body. He wretched until it felt like an eternity. After several minutes of tasking vomiting, Dean grunted and breathed harshly from the effort.Mercifully, the vomiting finally stopped, and Dean relaxed. His stomach subsided enough for him to lean back against Sam.

"You're okay….You finished?" Once the can was out of the way, Bobby noticed the can contained liquid and blood. Instantly, he knew Dean was far worse than he left on.

Dean had drifted into fever and sweats. For the moment, he wasn't even aware of most of his surroundings. The nerve endings felt as if his muscles were contracted by a frigid ice sensation. He let out a painful sigh, trying to ease the burden. His spine rolled in chills and locked in torment, leaving his body slumping downwards before Sam's wrapped his arm around him.Sam's arms locked around Dean's waist, almost cradling him to rest under Sam's strength. Finally, Bobby assisted Sam to ease Dean back to the bed. As Dean left Sam's grasp, Sam's shirt lingered with a drenching from the sweat pouring off Dean's body and a pale but obvious splattering of blood. "Bobby...he's…"

"We'll take care of him."

"Okay, kiddo. I need to check your temperature. And if you don't want me to do it from the where the sun don't shine…." Dean made no attempts to fight, letting Sam and Bobby do as they wished. He just wanted to sleep after the taxing vomiting. "Crap…104.2!"

"We got to get that down. " Sam demanded.

Dean just remained still, unable to move, trying to find comfort from his bed. "I'm fine. I feel better now." He rolled to his side, moving and plastering his knees to his chest again.

"Horse crap." Bobby said. "You still aren't big enough to take me, so you fight us on this, I'll whoop ya. The only vote you get in your treatment is to suffer through it."

"You may feel better Dean, but if we don't get your fever down, you're gonna…."

Dean's body twitched as pain emanated deep within him, his body betraying him with shards of misery. His lips down turned and shook as he panted; trying to keep himself from feeling the sharp twists within him. Features collapsed into tighter versions, not allowing anything but an expression of agony to display on his face. He shook, slumping further back into the bed. His breath coming out in gasps, his head lolled to the side and rested against Bobby's shoulder.

"Easy, kid. I know…it hurts…Never met a more stubborn kid in my life." Bobby said a bit grumpy, but his eyes showed how panicked he felt. When he spoke again, it was as if he asking a child if his skin knees hurt. "Can you sit up?"

Dean just shook his head no, maybe indicating he lacked the ability or maybe as a way to protest the fuss Sam and Bobby were making.

"Then we'll just carry you." Bobby bent over, fully intent on making good on his demands. He reached under Dean's arm and started to pull him up.

The two men distributed Dean's weight between them and dragged him to the bathroom. When they arrived, they lowered him into the empty tub without getting him undressed. Time was a factor not on their side as Bobby turned the cold water onto full, plugging the drain.

When the first splatter of frigid water splashed against Dean's heated skin, he screamed. "Just kill me, please?"

"We can't. Pigheaded morons aren't in season." Bobby tried to lighten Dean's spirit at least. This was not going to be fun.

Sam chuckled as a thought crossed his mind. "Pigheaded."

"Yeah. It's definitely a disease that runs in your family. I think you boys cornered the market in it."

Sam put one arm under Dean's neck, keeping him comfortable and above water. Grabbing a washcloth, Sam scooted next to the tub, trying to cool down Dean's face.

While Bobby kept talking to Dean, he added just enough warm water to make it a bit more comfortable. "You know if I was a smarter man, that day I met you boys... I would have run for the hills."

"We were in the hills already," Dean coughed.

"If I knew what I was getting myself into, I wouldn't have tracked that twerp that day."

"Lucky you." Dean smarted. Darkly hued eyelids fluttered and twitched. Slowly, Dean's eyes opened to stare into Sam's. There was something blank and hazy about the way Dean looked, but in those red eyes there was pain, fear, love and confusion. Finally, his lips parted and a strangled sound emerged like the sound of a boot pulling from the sloshing, sucking mud.

"Yeah." He said as if he agreed, then the mood changed to tenderness. "Yeah, it was kiddo. So you hang on now. You owe me big-STILL- for that." Bobby looked softer and sadder.

Even being deathly sick, Dean read that expression easily and tried to make it all better. "Did I ever say sorry for punching you?" A happy smile lit on Dean's face before he groaned and shook. His breath was staggered and weak.

"No…no you didn't." Bobby smiled.

"Good." His movements were becoming slower and weaker and his body could not bear the slightest pressure. The more Dean tried to speak, the more difficult his breathing became. His limbs were swollen and pitted now, inflamed and screaming.

"I just remember being so sick that day." Sam said, trying to keep Dean's mind occupied. "I don't remember much of it. You've always been there for us."

"Yeah, you were downright ill and Dean was on his own to take care of you."

"He always does."

"Makes it hard not to care about him."


Bobby smiled. If Sam hadn't gotten sick, they never would have met. The boys thought he had saved them that day, but Dean had given him something more important. He guessed fate was always telling him to snap out of his need for revenge after his wife, but it finally gave him the not so subtle reminder about his place in the universe.

Sam continued talking, but neither Sam nor Bobby really said anything important. They were more focused on keeping Dean's temperature down. "How is that, Dean? Dean?" There was no need to bother. Dean had slipped into unconsciousness; the frigid water no match for his illness.

Sam and Bobby sat holding and supporting Dean for several minutes in silence, splashing water over him. The seasoned hunter winched and gasped. They both seemed to be holding on baited breath for Dean's next reaction, clearly expecting worse and worse. Bobby wanted to say something just to break the strangled silence. When it was apparent that the young man had finally succumbed to sleep and the latest episode was over, Bobby spoke first. "He's in bad shape."

"He's still too hot." Sam reasoned.

"We got to get him to the hospital."