This is it, the end is nigh …
Disclaimer: Still own nothing
Sam's heart stood still.
"Bobby?," he almost sobbed; he was shaking so hard he could hardly hold the phone.
"The thing is Sam, this sonovabitch curse is old, real freakin' old and it's full on bitchfaced evil".
Sam could see Dean shivering on the couch beside him, chest heaving grotesquely as he panted for breath. They didn't have time for this shit …
"Get to the point Bobby" snapped Sam.
"It goes way, way back Sam, back before the New World was even thought of, back before King Arthur, back before Christ even. The curse is Celtic and the sting in the tail is that it used the peoples' beliefs against them'.
Dean's dry lips opened and his parched tongue ran across them.
"BOBBY" Sam shouted; "Dean doesn't have that sort of time".
"The incantation has to be read over something belonging to the first victim which then has to be burned to destroy the curse. Who was the first victim?"
Sam thought hard, "Uh – the Bride I think" he hesitated, "yeah, definitely, Jenny, Jenny something-or-other, the Bride".
"I need to go back to Devonwood and find something belonging to Jenny and bring it back here before we can do this."
Sam slumped into his chair, the walls of his chest were closing in on him; he couldn't breathe. This couldn't be happening …
"That's the twist. In those days people were buried with all their possessions to give them a comfortable afterlife, and so by the time the local druid or whoever had identified the curse, the first victim was long since buried with all his worldly goods"
Bobby continued, "to dig up his grave would have jeopardised his spirit's place in the afterlife, and so the witch could go on cursin' folk and wipe out the whole village if she wanted to."
Sam looked at Tom; Tom saw the tears on his face and did him the favour of looking away to tend to his patient.
Sam took a deep breath to try to compose himself. "Bobby, please go quick – don't think he's got much time before we get to the point where we can't help him".
You don't have to tell me, son, I'm on my way now". Sam heard the crack in Bobby's voice.
"Thanks for trying Bobby" he whispered, and flipped the phone closed, bowing his head in defeated despair.
"Bad news?" Sam turned at Tom's question. "Bobby's gonna be a good day or two yet," he replied shakily.
Tom said nothing, but the look in his eyes as he turned back to his patient was all Sam needed to know.
He felt like he was going to be sick; he was exhausted, hungry, unshaven, hadn't changed his filthy clothes for nearly two days, and now Dean was going to die.
Sam wanted to follow him into oblivion.
He felt faint as his heart raced, and pressed his hand against his chest to try to calm himself.
Then he felt it; a small, dishevelled lump in his shirt pocket.
He pulled it out with shaking fingers, it was withered and sickly, just like his brother, but he had taken it from the cursed church as the symbol of hope and joy it had once been.
Now it would be again.
He leaned over Dean, "hang in there bro', he gasped, "we can fix this now!" He patted the side of Dean's face.
Tom stared Sam; he stared at the shrivelled object clutched in Sam's hand; he stared at Dean completely unaware of everything going on around him.
Fumbling with the phone in his excitement, Sam made three abortive attempts before he was able to press the right buttons to raise Bobby.
"I'VE GOT IT" he screamed, "I've got it"
"Jeez, boy, whadya tryin' to do, deafen me? Got what?"
"Something belonging to Jenny! I just remembered, I picked up a stray bud from her bouquet in the church".
The silence on the other end of the phone spoke volumes. "I'm turnin' round – be with ya in a coupl'a hours." A pause followed, then, "Hey Sam?"
"What made ya pick up a flower from a Bride's bouquet in the first place?"
Sam thought for a moment.
"I dunno" he smiled, "I guess Dean's right – I guess I am just a hopeless sap!"
He clicked the phone closed and stepped over to sit beside Dean. "Hang in there dude" he whispered, stroking Dean's forehead, "Bobby's on his way; he's bringing you that drink!"
A ghost of a smile crossed Dean's face.
As good as his word, Bobby's truck screeched to a halt in front of the clinic two hours later.
He burst through the door, not concerning himself with the usual social niceties beyond a perfunctory nod. "Where is he?"
Tom led Bobby into the back room where his patient lay on the couch, motionless apart from the ever-present pulsing of his chest, hooked up to a limp IV bag which had all but stopped functioning under the restraint of the curse, it's merciless grip increasing as Dean grew weaker. Bobby looked across at Sam, slumped in a chair beside his brother, clutching his hand. He looked utterly spent.
"Don't worry Son, this sonofabitch has reached the end of the road" he snorted. "Where is it?"
Sam's free hand was resting on his thigh, balled into a fist. He lifted his hand and slowly uncurled his fingers. There, nestling in the safety of his massive hand was the tiny, withered bud.
He held his hand out wordlessly to Bobby.
Bobby took the bud and went to work. Within minutes, an intricate pentacle was chalked on the floor at the head of the couch; it was set about with candles, dried holly and the bones of some long-dead small animal. Bobby finished by sprinkling a halo of salt around Dean's head.
Sam watched, still gripping his brother's hand, as Bobby placed the bud in the middle of the pentacle and knelt, placing his hand on Dean's head.
Tom watched from the other side of the room having withdrawn to a discreet distance where he could keep out of the way while the hunters did their work, but could keep a professional eye on his patient.
Bobby began to read from a ragged old book. It was a language Sam wasn't familiar with, certainly not Latin; possibly some sort of Gaelic maybe? Bobby did say the curse was ancient Celtic.
Dean began to tremble as Bobby's incantations grew faster and more aggressive, the trembling turned to full-scale shaking; so intense that Bobby could barely maintain his grip on Dean's head.
Tom continued to watch. Every fibre of his professional being screamed at him to stop this, but he had trusted Bobby with his life in the past, and against his better judgement, trusted him with the life of his patient too.
Dean's shaking became so intense, Sam was becoming nervous the couch might collapse, when suddenly Dean arched violently – his mouth yawning a silent cry.
Tom and Sam watched fascinated as a small wisp of vapour curled upwards from Dean's gaping mouth. It looked like a warm breath against a winter's chill. It lingered for a moment and then dissipated.
Dean slumped bonelessly back onto the couch and was immediately smothered by concerned hands, feeling his pulse, probing his broken rib, gently lifting his eyelids to examine his eyes.
No-one noticed Bobby pick up the bud, toss it into Tom's sink, douse it with lighter fuel and ignite it; but they all noticed the screaming purple flame which erupted as a result.
"What the hell was that?" gasped Sam.
"That was ya curse" panted Bobby, leaning heavily against the wall. "Bastard's gone", he added with satisfaction.
For the first time since he entered the room, he approached the couch, and the prone figure stretched out on it. Patting Dean's shoulder, he whispered, "up to you now, son."
Around half an hour had passed, and Sam had not torn his eyes from his brother's trembling form. "Why isn't he better?" He whispered forlornly, looking up at Tom and Bobby.
"He's a very sick man," Tom replied, "curse or no curse; he's still got to recover from what it did to him."
Sam stroked his brother's head. "C'mon man, you've gotta get better now, the curse has gone." He swallowed hard, "please …"
He was distracted by Tom's voice. "Well, I know there's no immediate change, but look at this … he is one thirsty guy!"
They both looked up to see the IV bag hanging empty, greedily drained of every drop of fluid in it.
Sam's eyes lit up, "The IV's working now?"
"Absolutely pouring into him" smiled Tom, hooking a new bag onto the stand. "He's on the way!"
Sam didn't know whether to laugh or cry; so he did both, watching his brother sleep, and watching the wonderful lifegiving fluid drip, drip, drip into his brother's parched body.
The dreamy rhythm of the drip lulled him into a sleep, his head resting on his crossed arms, on the couch against Dean's shoulder.
Sam had no idea how long he had been asleep before he opened his eyes. He blinked blearily and as his vision cleared, the first sight he saw was his brother's face; wide-eyed, looking right at him.
"You look like shit!" Dean smiled mischeviously.
"Oh, that's charming, I …" Sam's voice tailed off. "You can see?"
"Oh yeah, I can see!" replied Dean, "an' your face ain't a pretty sight right now!"
Sam leapt to his feet and smothered his brother is a crushing hug.
"Hmmmff, ffnammy … cn't breathe!"
Sam let go, "sorry, dude!" he grinned, "it's just, well, let's say I'm pleased to see you well and leave it at that!"
Dean lifted his head up and winced, "damn – forgot about the friggin' rib!" he gasped, "hey, who's a man gotta punch to get a drink around here?"
Sam shook his head, smiling. Yep, his charming, tactful, diplomatic brother was back.
Sam walked to the door and called through to Tom and Bobby in the kitchen. "Hey, he's asking for a drink, can he have anything?"
"There goes our peace and quiet!" grunted Bobby, winking at Tom. Tom grinned and handed Sam a bottle of Gatorade. "Give him this, it will top up the IV, replace his salts and minerals and stuff".
"Thanks Tom", Sam took the bottle.
"And don't let him drink it all at once, unless you wanna be seeing it again!"
"You got it!" grinned Sam.
Propping Dean up on some pillows, Sam cracked the top off the bottle. "Here y'go dude!" Sam handed over the bottle.
Dean took it gratefully and lifted it to his dry lips. He took a swig and they both held their breath; Sam saw his brother's throat convulse as he swallowed, and they both smiled broadly from sheer relief.
Dean sucked greedily on the bottle, his eyes closed in pure, unbridled pleasure.
"Oh, dear God" he gasped, between swallows, "Dear God in his Heaven with all his little angels and cherubs and whoever else he has up there with him … that is so friggin' good."
He gulped down more of the drink, his eyes almost rolling back into his head, soft, breathy moans of bliss escaping his mouth around the neck of the bottle.
"Um, dude," Sam shifted awkwardly, "it's not that I'm not glad you're drinking again, but, um – the noises? – kinda making me feel uncomfortable!"
Dean lowered his hand to his lap.
"I don't care," he gasped softly, catching his breath. "this is better than sex; better than Angelina Jolie …"
"Better than Peanut M&M's?" Sam tried to shift the focus of this conversation which was making him break out into a cold sweat.
"Better than peanut M&M's during sex with Angelina Jolie," Dean replied wickedly.
Sam grimaced at the image.
Dean was up and about by the following evening; tired, extremely sore-armed, but otherwise seemingly unharmed by his ordeal.
Bobby had headed home, earlier that day, thanking Tom for his help, wishing Sam well, and telling Dean to be more friggin' careful in future, ya idjit!
The following morning, it was time for the Winchesters to take their leave.
Tom was sorry to see them go, "Hope I'll see you both again soon – although not in a professional sense, of course!" he joked.
They thanked him profusely, and he saw them to the door.
Dean's eyes lit up when he saw the Impala.
"Hey, Baby!" he crooned softly, running his hand over the glossy paintwork, stroking and patting the contours of the car's bodywork.
Sam looked at Tom. "Ya got anything in your medicine cabinet for a pervy car fetish?"
"Nah!" replied Tom, with a grin, "beyond my help!"
They both laughed out loud, and Dean pointedly ignored them.
Sam pointed the Impala east and reflected over the last three days as the Highway rolled by and Dean dozed in the passenger seat.
He sighed, he felt like he had aged ten years.
He was scared by how quickly the whole saga had deteriorated and how close he had come to losing his brother.
He wondered how he would ever be able to thank Tom and Bobby for their help.
And he couldn't even imagine how he would be able to explain to Dean that he owed his life to one tiny, lonely little rosebud.
Heck, Winchester life was weird!
Hope you enjoyed …