The week of the wolf, as Dean secretly called it because it sounded way cooler than "week of werewolf-infection" was over. He'd not turned again, which was really promising, but he'd felt a weird, twitching pain in his joints the last night, when the full moon had risen to its peak at midnight. He hadn't told Sam, but had spoken to the Professor, who had looked for some more texts on that subject. She hadn't found any, as was expected. After all, if there was a cure to becoming a werewolf that was foolproof, more hunters would've known about it. Old Asshole Campbell would've known about it, at the least, and Bobby'd looked there the moment they knew about it.

What Alyssa had uncovered, though, was a tiny asterisk in the journal that housed the cure, a little note saying that the cure would, if done right, definitely stop the current cycle of shape-shifting, but it wasn't a given that it'd be permanent. They could only be sure when Dean hadn't turned the following months, but that was still a long time away.

It was weird, Dean thought. He was pretty cool about the idea of staying a shape-shifting wolf, not freaking out at all like he'd silently done the first weeks after the infection. For some strange reason, he didn't mind the possibility of becoming a monster – or, well, staying one. Sam might've thought differently, but they hadn't talked about it yet, and if Dean had any say, they wouldn't do it at all before the next cycle started. If it ever came to that.

He and Sam were in Idaho, somewhere between one small town and another even smaller one, on their way to a haunted mansion. Or maybe a farm-house, Dean hadn't paid that much attention to Sam's words. He'd noted the location, the words 'possibly the ghost of their grandfather' and had blocked out the rest in favor of feeling the sun warming his closed eyelids. They'd sat in a picnic-area, Sam reading a newspaper from the trash – he'd been desperate to read something different from small scribbles in near-unrecognizable handwriting or ancient chants, he'd admitted – while Dean had tried to listen to the birds and insects that were crawling all over the place.

He'd had no problem hearing the birds, but it'd pained him that the small, six-legged creatures weren't audible to him anymore. It'd still smelled like life all around him, though, so he hadn't been feeling as sense-amputated as he probably would be in a few days.

How odd, he'd thought, that you could miss something that had only been present for a few days.

Now, in the car next to Sam who was driving, Dean still had to stifle the urge to curl up in a ball and huff in contentment or open the window and let the wind blow through his hair and sniff the scents that would drift in. He hadn't mentioned it to anyone, not Sam or Alyssa or Bobby who'd called three times already, making up bull-shit excuses to check on them. First time had been shortly after the night under the big oak, but Dean hadn't talked much with their old friend then, since he'd been drifting in and out of a pain-filled haze, trying to get a hang of where he was and who was sitting next to him.

It'd been nerve-wracking. During the ritual, he'd managed pretty well to stay in the present time, maybe due to Sam's voice that'd been keeping him tethered or maybe because it'd been way too cold to be Hell. The cutting itself, while definitely not pleasant, hadn't been too bad. He hadn't been kidding when he said he'd had worse and Sam'd been really careful. But the nights that followed, while he'd burned in fever from the paste on his back, he'd been flashing back and forth into his own Hell, with the knife or under it, one dream shifting into the other. He didn't have a clear memory, but Sam'd looked incredibly haunted when he'd finally woken for real so it was safe to assume that his dreams hadn't been quiet.

At present, 'bout a week later, Dean felt fine. His back was still twitching when he made a wrong move and he didn't mind the cushions at his back even though he bitched about them every time he could, just so Sam wouldn't think he'd gone soft or anything. But apart from that, he was feeling awesome. Better, in fact, than he should be, and neither he nor Sam knew if it came from the paste or from some residual fast-healing-ability that the werewolf had possessed. He didn't limp anymore, and the cuts had healed up mostly, leaving thin, henna-colored scars all over his skin. They looked a bit weird, like some strange tribal tattoos, but if he was honest, they also looked pretty cool and he couldn't wait to show them to the next pretty girl he could find. He was sure it'd feel incredible if she would lick and trace the design with her fingertips…

"Are you panting?" Sam interrupted his pleasant daydream.

"What? No.'course not. Why'd I do that?"

Sam only grinned, gaze straight ahead on the endless-seeming road in front of them. He looked good, Dean thought, relaxed.

So what if they were two fucked-up guys in an old car, scattered scars all over their body and mind? They were still brothers, still doing the right thing. Still saving people, hunting things and if these days they could actually find the odd grey hair whenever they forgot to shave, it was only to be expected, considering the life they led.

Dean was ok with that, more so than he'd been recently. All he'd done, all he'd let happened. All that he'd not stopped and all they had lost was still there, still sitting somewhere in the corners of his maze-like brain and just waiting to ambush him the moment he least expected it. He knew that, and he also knew that some things would never vanish, would forever taint his soul.

But he could look at it now, remember it and look forward again. He could stop living in the past and rehashing his mistakes over and over and over, like he'd done before. He felt like his mind had for some reason come unstuck and would run smoothly from now on.

He hoped it'd stay that way, no matter how many fucked-up situations they still had to encounter.

"How about we stop next town, get a bite to eat. I'm sure they have something with onions"

"Hell yeah, Sam. I'm starving and there can never be too many onions on your food."

Sam laughed and nodded "Yeah, but there is a limit to what this car can manage, not to mention my nose. How about you stick with one helping, and forgo the second one?"

"Aw man, you're no fun"

"I like to breathe, Dean, now and again"

"Wimp"

Oh yes, the world was pretty ok today, Dean thought. He couldn't change what was, and he didn't know the future. But right now, he could live and set one foot in front of the other. Everything else was out of his hands, but for the first time in quite a while, he didn't mind.

"Fleebag"

"Nerd"

"Really? That's the best you can manage?"

"Not like there is anything worse than being a nerd, so why bother"

No, he didn't mind at all.

~End~


That's it, folks. Thank all of you who sticked with me and whose encouragement made me feel so much better, and thank all of those silent readers who didn't toss this out with the garbage yet (assuming there are any).
I'd be really, really thrilled if, in case you enjoyed this, you leave me a note, because though I'm writing for my own sake, it's still an unbelievable feeling to get reviews.

Bye, see you next time

Marlowe