Disclaimer: Don't own the Winchesters or anything Supernatural-related.
Before I begin, there's one major problem right from the start, and it's the fact that I set this story in New Paltz, NY, totally forgetting that they used that in the episode Provenance. But let's just pretend that that episode took place somewhere else, because I don't want to change the location of my story. I was thinking of maybe including Sarah in this story, but I wanted it to focus mostly on the boys and didn't want her to have to be thrown in there too. Okay, now that that's out of the way…this story started out mainly as a way for me to write a short hurt/comfort thing with sick and injured Dean, and then when I started writing, I threw a case in there. So now it's going to be longer, which kind of makes me happy since I've missed writing Supernatural fanfiction. This story takes place at some point in season 2, because that will always be my favorite season. And the title is taken from the 1785 poem by Robert Burns titled "To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough." Okay, that's it I think. Hope you enjoy!
Summary: Sam and Dean travel to New Paltz, NY to meet up with one of their dad's old hunting partners on a case involving an ancient Indian burial ground. Dean is sick and getting sicker, and the case turns out to be more complicated than they originally anticipated. Lots of Sick!Dean and Hurt!Dean and caring Sam...and some action too.
Dean groaned, feeling the painful ache in his joints as he shifted positions in the Impala. He hadn't wanted to relinquish the driver's seat to Sam, but after nearly nodding off three times – the last almost causing him to swerve into the path of an oncoming car – Sam had put his foot down and insisted they pull over. Dean hadn't really put up a fight. The near-accident had left him shaken and he'd rather injure his own pride than risk injuring his brother or his baby.
He shifted again, swallowing painfully against the dryness in his throat. "Hey," Dean looked over to see his brother studying him closely. "How you feeling?"
Dean didn't answer, needing a moment to take stock of himself. He felt like shit, but that wasn't an entirely new feeling. He'd been feeling crappy for nearly a week, starting with a persistent, annoying headache. Now it seemed like he could never get warm and he always felt tired. "I'm okay," he croaked out, palming a hand across his face, surprised to feel the sweat there. He coughed pathetically, reaching into the backseat for a water bottle. Dean took a careful sip, then pressed his head back against the seat.
Sam made a sound of disapproval but left it at that. "You hungry at all? I need to stretch my legs and I'm starving."
Dean kept his eyes closed but nodded his head slightly. "Sure," he agreed. He wasn't all that hungry, but maybe getting out of the car would clear his head, wake him up a little.
Sam pulled off the road into a crowded diner about 10 minutes later, shutting off the engine and turning to his brother who was once again snoring softly, face pressed up against the window, his breaths fogging the glass. "Dean," Sam tried quietly. When his brother didn't respond, he placed a hand on his shoulder and shook it gently. That woke him up and Sam quickly backed off as Dean reacted with his fists swinging. Sam dodged the first attempt and grabbed his brother's hands on the second. "Hey, hey calm down, Dean. It's just me."
Dean looked confusedly at his brother then rubbed his eyes tiredly. "Sorry, man. Don't wake me up like that."
Sam nodded. "I haven't forgotten from the last time you hit me. If you're too tired, we can go find a motel and crash. I can get food later."
Dean shook his head, pushing himself up. "You crazy? It's only 2 in the afternoon – we still have a ways until we even hit New York. Besides, I've slept enough. Let's eat." Dean opened the door and stepped out, not expecting the world to tilt on its axis the second he was vertical. He grabbed onto the roof of the car to steady himself. If Sam noticed, he didn't say anything, and Dean followed him into the diner.
Sam was holding the door as Dean lumbered up the steps to the diner. The loud sounds and greasy smells hit Dean like a sack of bricks, almost like a physical blow that ratcheted up the headache to the next level and made him swallow hard against a wave a nausea that wasn't there five minutes ago. Somehow managing to suck it up, Dean stepped forward, giving the hostess a wide smile.
"Two?" she asked, smiling back, clearly interested in the handsome strangers.
Dean nodded. "Thanks Sweetheart." She grabbed two menus, leading them to a booth right in the middle of the diner.
"Enjoy, guys." She winked at Dean before turning and walking back to the entrance.
"Still got it," Dean smirked, looking over at Sam who shot him an incredulous look. "Admit it, you're impressed."
"I'm impressed she even gave you the time of day. You look like hell."
"Seriously, what's going on with you?"
"Nothing, Sam," Dean mumbled, looking down at his menu.
"I can tell you're sick – why don't you just tell me what's wrong?"
Dean glared back at him. "I told you I'm fine. Just a cold or something. Can you please drop it now?"
Sam decided to shut up, satisfied that at least Dean had admitted something was wrong, even if he just thought it was a cold. Sam was pretty sure it was more serious that that, but he figured that could wait until later. "So what's this case again? Only thing you've told me is that it's up near Poughkeepsie."
Dean lifted his head at that, thankful that Sam was changing the topic. He knew this was more than just a cold, but it wasn't anything he couldn't deal with yet. "Yeah, uh, one of dad's old hunting buddies called before. Mark Ruttledge. He's a good guy – I hunted with him once on a case in Syracuse. Anyway, it's not exactly Poughkeepsie, but a place near there called New Paltz. It's a college town and it gets a lot of tourists this time of year. Apparently there have been some weird occurrences at the school library over the last month."
"Can I get you something to drink?" Dean and Sam looked up to see an older woman holding out a notepad, waiting for the boys to answer. Jean – as her nametag read – was at least 50 years old, and Sam smirked at the disappointment on Dean's face. No hot waitresses this time, bro.
"Coffee," they said simultaneously. "Can I also have orange juice?" Dean asked as an afterthought, wincing as he swallowed.
"Sure, Honey. It's fresh-squeezed. Best in the state."
"Can I have a glass too?"
The waitress looked at Sam and smiled approvingly. "Two coffees and two OJ's. I'll be right back with that."
"She's cute," Sam mocked.
"Shaddup," Dean growled, looking down at the menu. He was starting to feel hungry, his stomach reminding him that he hadn't eaten anything substantial in quite awhile. Thankfully the nausea seemed to have faded along with the pounding headache.
Jean was back almost immediately, balancing the drinks like a pro. "Here you go," she said as she placed them down in front of the boys. "Have you decided what to order?"
Sam looked up, embarrassed. His menu was still closed and he hadn't even looked at it yet. "What do you recommend?"
"Well I just love the omelettes here. Personally, I recommend the Alpine. It has Swiss cheese, onions, mushrooms, and bacon. But the other omelettes are also delicious."
"That sounds amazing. I'll take the Alpine, with extra bacon."
"And how about you, Sweetie?"
"Blueberry pancakes with a side of hash browns," Dean said automatically, deciding to forgo anything too greasy. He was actually feeling okay right now and didn't want to upset his stomach with grease-soaked bacon.
"Fantastic. I'll be back in a jiffy." She took their menus and hurried off to the kitchen.
Dean chuckled, his eyes following Jean as she left. "I like her. She says jiffy."
When Dean didn't turn his head back after a minute, Sam kicked him under the table. "Alright, Romeo, let's get back to the case,"
"Right." Dean coughed lightly, taking a gulp of orange juice and moaning as the cool sweetness coated his throat. "Dear God. That is delicious."
"Okay, okay don't get your panties in a twist. Where was I anyway?"
"You said that strange things started happening at the school library. What sort of things?"
Dean nodded. "Oh yeah. Well technically it's a library and a museum, and from what I've heard it sounds like a poltergeist. Or an angry spirit of some sort. People have reported seeing objects moving on their own – books and artifacts flying across the room. That sort of stuff. And apparently the library staff reported several instances of vandalism. They would come in in the morning to see tables and chairs overturned and display cases disturbed."
"Has anyone been hurt?"
Dean nodded, taking another sip of orange juice before continuing. "Couple people were hit with flying objects, and an elderly man fell down the stairs and broke his hip, though he claimed that he was pushed. And then last Tuesday three students were injured and another one killed when part of the ceiling collapsed on them."
"Yeah, I know. Mark's been casing the place since Wednesday, but he thinks he may need backup so he called me. And since we were in the area…" Dean trailed off, leaving that as explanation enough, though he did notice Sam's approval.
"Did Mark say what he thought was causing everything?"
"He has his theories. They recently began construction on an additional wing to the library. Construction started off without a hitch until – get this – they dug up an old Indian graveyard."
"I'm guessing they didn't stop construction for that?"
"Yahtzee. They moved the bodies. Apparently they're going to make an exhibit for them."
Dean nodded. "Yeah. Big mistake. So I'm guessing we've got a ton of angry spirits to deal with."
"Sounds like. But how the hell do you remedy that? Are we really going to burn every body they found? Won't that be kind of difficult? I'm sure they're just not out in the open, easily accessible to the public."
"Too many questions, Bro. We don't even know if that's the problem. Maybe the digging disrupted some sort of holy ground. Maybe we're dealing with an old Native American curse. We just need to get there and see for ourselves. Where are we, anyway? How far to New Paltz?"
"We're in Manalapan, New Jersey. Still another two, two and a half hours until we get to New Paltz. Did you tell Mark we were on our way?"
"Yeah, he knows. He's staying in some bed and breakfast right in town."
"A bed and breakfast? Seriously?"
Dean smirked. "According to him, all the other rooms were booked up. Anyway, he got us a room there, too."
Sam shook his head, amused. He looked up to see Jean bustling her way back to the table, two steaming plates balanced on her arms.
"Alpine omelette for you," she said, placing the plate down in front of Sam, "and blueberry pancakes with hash browns for you." She pulled a bottle of ketchup out of her apron and placed it on the table. "Do you need anything else?"
Sam shook his head around a mouthful of eggs. "M good."
Dean kicked Sam's shin under the table, looking up at Jean and smiling apologetically. "Sorry my brother here is so rude," Dean said sweetly. "I think we're good now, though. Thanks, Sweetheart."
Jean smiled at Dean. "Aren't you sweet? Enjoy, boys, let me know if I can get you anything."
Sam kicked Dean hard under the table. "Kiss ass."
"Maybe if you weren't so busy inhaling your food."
"I'm starving. And this is delicious. You wanna try?"
Dean squinted at the food, not in the least bit enticed. "I think I'll pass."
"Your loss," Sam mumbled around another mouthful. Dean shook his head and began to butter his pancakes, which actually looked delicious.
Sam finished his omelette in record time, and Dean looked up from his pancakes to see Sam staring at his untouched hash browns. He had no intention of eating them, already feeling the pancakes settle heavily in his stomach, so he pushed the hash browns towards Sam. "Go ahead," he prompted, a hint of amusement in his voice.
"Nah, nah that's okay. You eat them, I'm good."
"Sam, if you don't eat them, they're just going to be wasted. I'm not that hungry."
Sam was going to insist Dean eat them, but knew that would only put his brother in a pissy mood. And he was still hungry. He pushed the hash browns onto his own plate, relishing the salty taste. "These are good, Dean. Are you sure you don't want to try them?"
Dean swallowed one more bite of his pancakes before pushing them away. "No thanks, Sammy. I'm full anyway. You finish up, I'm gonna hit the head." Dean stood slowly, making sure he had his balance before making his way to the end of the diner where the restrooms were located. Sam watched his brother until he was out of sight, well aware that he was worse off than he was letting on. Whatever was wrong, Sam knew Dean wouldn't be able to keep up this façade for much longer, especially if he continued to get worse.
The diner had a private bathroom, which Dean found oddly impractical for a place that clearly got a lot of business. Still, he was thankful for the privacy. Dean locked the door and pressed his back against it, sagging slightly from exhaustion. After a few minutes, he went to the sink, running the cold water and splashing it on his face, letting it drip down his neck.
Dean looked into the mirror, surprised at how awful he looked. His skin was stark white, save for the blotchy spots of fever that dotted his cheeks. His eyes seemed sunken-in, ringed by dark circles. Given how bad Dean looked, it was a miracle Sam hadn't driven him straight to the nearest hospital.
Dean cupped the running water, dipping his head down and taking a few greedy sips. The orange juice had soothed some of the soreness in his throat and the cold water felt so refreshing. He took care of his business, washing his hands and studying himself once more in the mirror, slapping his face a few times to get some color back into it. Deciding he looked slightly better than death-warmed-over, he headed out the door, back to his brother.
Sam didn't look up when Dean came back, his attention instead focused on finishing the last few bites of pancake that Dean had left behind.
"Jeez, Sam. You'd think I don't feed you enough."
Sam laughed. "Yeah, sorry man. I was really starving."
Dean smiled, sliding into the booth and taking a sip from his coffee, spitting it back almost immediately. "Ugh this is gross!"
Sam pointed to his own empty coffee cup. "Yeah, when you don't touch it until it's cold."
"Whatever. Did you get the bill?"
Sam held up a slip of paper. "Jean brought it while you were in the bathroom – along with some extra orange juice to-go, since you seemed to love it so much." Sam said, sliding the cup of orange juice towards Dean, neglecting to mention that Jean had expressed her own concern over his brother's obvious illness.
Dean smiled widely, taking a large gulp of the OJ. He pulled out a wad of cash and counted out the money for the check, making sure to leave a large tip for Jean. "You ready to go? I told Mark we'd be in New Paltz before dark."
Sam climbed out of the booth, stretching. "You want me to keep driving?" he asked, holding up the keys to the Impala. "You still look beat."
Dean shook his head, taking the keys from Sam. "Still look better than you."
"You keep telling yourself that, Dean. Whatever helps you sleep at night," Sam called out, following Dean to the car.
"Ha-ha," Dean turned back to see Sam grinning at him. "You're a riot. Just get in the car, would you?" He climbed into the driver's seat, clearing his throat and coughing a little, trying in vain to soothe some of the irritation there.
"You okay?" Dean looked over to see that Sam had climbed into the passenger seat with out him even knowing and was now looking at him with that annoyingly sympathetic concern.
"Yeah," he squeaked, clearing his throat and trying again. "Yeah I'm fine. And if you don't stop asking me that, you'll be hitching a ride to New Paltz."
"Sheesh, Dean. I'm just worried about you."
Dean didn't answer, starting the car and turning up the radio as Led Zeppelin's Kashmir started playing. Breakfast had helped – he didn't feel nearly as exhausted as he had before, even if the lingering dizziness was still there. Sam's constant worrying was annoying him, though if he was being honest, he could already tell that he was getting sicker. But this was just a simple hunt, not to mention they had the added help from Mark. Sick or not, Dean could work this case in his sleep. Piece of cake.
Kinda didn't like how this chapter flowed or, I guess, didn't flow. But I just want to get it published so I can write the more exciting chapters. Thoughts? Thank you for reading, I'd love to hear what you think!