14.

Holding on tight to the back of the couch, Dean steadily pulled himself up until he was sat upright. The movement seemed to trigger a series of aches and pains in every muscle and every bone throughout his body. Even his skin felt raw and hypersensitive. Panting, Dean took a moment, hoping the time would allow the hurt to diminish.

He planted both feet on the floor, looking around for any sign of his pants and boots. Standing became a further test of Dean's resolve. His legs felt like he hadn't had the use of them for months and, when Dean tried to stand straight, he had to clamp a hand over his mouth to muffle his involuntary cry as he clutched at his abdomen with the other hand. Sharp, searing shafts of pain tore through him, as though something inside was using a serrated knife to try to cut it's way out through his gut.

Keeping one arm folded over his stomach, Dean hunched over a little and tried to focus on levelling his breathing. He knew more than enough to realise that his symptoms did not bode well and that, at any other time, he would soon be making a trip to the emergency department under Sam's watchful glare whether he wanted to or not.

Dean shrugged the thought away. The struggle to put on his jeans and boots nearly finished him and served to add disquieting feelings of rolling nausea to his ever growing list of physical discomfort; but still Dean refused to give in. He spotted his duffle and gun on the kitchen table. By the time he made it outdoors, Dean was exhausted and his vision was starting to blur. The small voice of reason inside his head told him to stop. To go back inside. To wake Bobby and ask to be taken to the hospital. His stubborn determination, his own "Deanness," however, over rode it.

XXX

Through an act of almost super human effort, Dean finally made it across the yard to the Impala. By then a fine tremor had begun to run throughout his whole body and he could no longer keep himself from making small noises of pain. He threw his belongings unceremoniously into the trunk and stumbled to the driver's side door, instantly having to grab onto the top edge of the open car door to support himself as his feelings of nausea decided to become so much more than that.

Still clinging onto the door of the Impala, Dean began to wretch. Weakened and dazed, he could do nothing to stop himself from suddenly vomiting quantities of thick liquid onto the floor at the side of his car. His mouth and throat were filled with the bitter tang of copper as Dean spewed blood. His head pounded and the act of throwing up re-awoke the razor sharp pains in his stomach.

The vomiting gave way to dry heaving. Finally they stopped and Dean drew huge lungs full of air before hurrying to get himself sat in the car, certain that his legs were not going to hold him much longer. His temperature had spiked and the shaking in his hands had worsened, causing him to struggle to put the key in the ignition. Dean smiled grimly once he achieved the task. He wiped the sweat out of his eyes with the back of his hand and started the engine.

XXX

A sound cut through Sam's nightmares and he woke abruptly. Tuning into the faint noise, Sam recognised it instantly as the sound of the Impala's engine, Dean!

Sitting up quickly, Sam hissed at the sting of pain that immediately shot through the numerous small wounds in his shoulder and chest where the rock salt crystals had cut into him,

"Dammit!"

Clutching one hand at his chest, Sam made his way out of the bedroom, down the stairs and into the yard as quickly as he could, yelling for Bobby on route.

XXX

Hearing Sam's shout, Bobby grimaced, wishing he were hard enough to turn over and leave both boys to get on with it. Instead, he hauled himself out of bed muttering to himself "What now Godammit! Can't they leave it till mornin'?" whilst at the same time having to quell the knot of worry and anxiety, wondering if Dean's condition had worsened?

XXX

As Dean began to pull out of the salvage yard, he was suddenly aware of someone sitting alongside him in the passenger seat. He turned to look.

"What the f…..? Who the hell are you?"

Sat at the side of him was an older man. He was balding and dressed in a smart dark suit, white shirt and tie. Head slightly cocked to one side, he looked at Dean in an appraising manner.

"Don't tell me. You're another freakin' angel; right?

The man smiled benignly,

"I'm here to help you, young man, that's all."

Dean turned away from the stranger, returning his attention to the road ahead,

"Yeah? Well, party's over. You've obviously not heard, I've quit. I'm done. I've had enough!

The angel simply shook his head whilst continuing to smile mildly, and he clicked his fingers.

XXX

Sam skidded to a halt as he saw the Impala pull out of the gates,

"Shit!"

He turned, intent on getting back indoors, grabbing his cell and ringing his brother. He started in surprise as he found his way unexpectedly blocked by a balding man in a smart suit.

"Sonofa….."

The man smiled broadly at Sam, winked once, and clicked his fingers.

XXX

Bobby was halfway down the stairs, when he stopped. Puzzled, he looked around. He had absolutely no idea why he was out of bed and heading downstairs. He turned to look back up toward his bedroom door, before he then looked down at himself. Yep, he was in his P.J.'s. So why the hell wasn't he in bed?

Bobby shook his head, "Must've been damn sleepwalking. Jeeze, I'm getting too old."

And with that, Bobby wandered back to his still warm bed, quickly slipping into a dreamless and peaceful sleep.

END

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