Author's notes: AU from the last minutes of episode 3x16. Vague spoilers from everything that had happened before that. This story is a serious NC-17

Word count: about 90 000
Thanks to: whit_merule. This story would have never been written if it wasn't for her patience, kindness and wonderful beta work. You're the most brilliant person I know. It's really an honnor to work with you. Thanks to disneymagics for the precious second look and the cheering and, most important of all, for being my friend. Love you, love fangirling with you :)

Disclaimer: I don't own nor make any benefits regarding the Supernatural universe.

Hunter's Lullaby


Once upon a time, there was an angel who did very bad things while thinking he was making the right choices. He wasn't perfect, but neither were the humans who had fought on his side since his arrival on Earth. Time passed, and the angel thought he was dying. The regrets he felt were heavy on his shoulders. He thought about what he could have done to stop the beginning of the Apocalypse and change the fate that had been bestowed upon some of his closest friends.

At this point, the angel didn't care about the universal rules governing all beings and things. He searched the past for a time that would suit his purpose. Traveling back was more complex than the human mind could ever understand. Some points and events were impossible to reach or change. However, there were some soft spots in the substance of time itself, and you could find them if you knew what you were looking for.

The angel used all of his powers to travel back, as Atropos and other angels were already tailing him. His working window was extremely shallow as he landed in a small house in Harmony, Indiana.

He saw the man he had been so close to lying on the floor, letting out one last breath before he died under the Hellhound's claws and teeth. Dean's brother, Sam, half crazy with anger and grief, let Lilith unleash her wrath on him. To no avail: the demon was about to escape, and the angel knew it. The amount of energy he had to use to kill her almost ended him too, but it was enough, and he could almost hear Lucifer howling his fury from the Cage down below.

Sam was crying over Dean's body, indifferent to the appearance of a stranger right in front of him, or the death of a powerful demon under his hand.

The angel felt his pain and knelt next to him.

"Don't touch him!" Sam yelled, pressing his brother's broken body closer to his own.

"I can get him back, but we need to hurry before he's hung on the rack. It will be much more difficult to raise him if he falls to Alastair's bloody hands."

"Wh-what are you?"

"It doesn't matter. I need your powers to get Dean back. Give me your hand, Sam."

The angel's voice was soft and low. He saw something flickering in the young man's eyes as he held out a shaking hand, tears still running down his cheeks. "Please," Sam whispered.

The angel took his hand and put the other one on Dean's forehead. He could feel all the power flowing through Sam's blood, all the potential hiding behind it as he borrowed it to use for his own purpose. He heard Sam's scream as he felt himself sliding down into the pit, the light of Dean's soul fading ahead of him. There were screams and blood and clawing hands and the angel fell for a long time. He felt his friend's desperation and fear and drained himself to go faster. By Hell's measurement of time, their fall lasted a week, but it could be only a few minutes on earth.

They were almost to the bottom of the pit when the angel snatched up Dean Winchester's soul. He heard the demons scream in fury, as Alastair was slowly rising to take his prize. But it was too late. Using Sam's soul as a guiding light, the angel soared higher and higher.I If the fall had lasted a week, the elevation was almost instantaneous.

When the angel returned to his flesh, he found himself still on his knees, holding both brothers' hands. He felt hollow and empty but also lighter as Sam came back to himself, nose bleeding and hair drenched in sweat. Dean grunted, then started to cough. The angel wasn't sure Sam Winchester even noticed when he left, so focused was he on holding Dean in his arms and assuring him that everything would be alright, his voice small and make sure nobody would ever try to come back to this point in time, the angel released all his powers, securing the soft spot until it was impenetrable.

He felt like he was dying, but Castiel had seen death too often to think anything of it.

Chapter 1

Crow's Corner, Indiana, November 5

"Dean, stop, that's her car."

"Isn't there a cemetery up the road?"

"Hum… Yeah."

"Of course there is. Great… that's just… What's she doing in a cemetery anyway?"

"Don't know. Come on."

Sam and Dean Winchester stepped out of their car and into the stormy night. The road was pitch black and empty, surrounded by woods. A cold wind was howling, shaking the leaves in a strange melody. There were no stars and the moon was hidden.

Sam felt a rush of adrenaline running through him when Dean opened the Impala's trunk. They were closing in on Meredith Landon. She was dangerous: in a situation where she would fear for her life, there wasn't any way to know how she would react when confronted.

"So. Witches. What do we need, apart from our guns?" Dean asked while going through their weapons.

"Nothing. You still got the blowtorch on you?"


Dean handled Sam his gun and a flashlight before taking one each for himself. He turned his head and coughed quietly in his shoulder, not for the first time since he'd woken up that morning.

"Are you coming down with something?"

"No, Dr. House. Come on, let's move."

Dean closed the trunk and led the way on the sloping road. The cemetery was just up the hill. "We've got to take her out somehow. This has to end," he said over his shoulder.

"Yeah, she's already killed six people. It's not gonna be easy though."

"I hate witches."

"I know you do."

"I mean… look at the mess she's made. And she's only seventeen freaking years old." Dean slowed his pace, looked up and held an open hand palm up in front of him. "It's raining."

Sam felt a cold, big drop land on the top of his head. "Yeah."

"This hunt just keeps getting better and better," Dean mumbled, walking faster.

"You're grumpy today."

"And you're a pain in my ass."

"Want me to put something else there?"

The joke was out before Sam realized what he was saying. They were still struggling a bit in this new aspect of their relationship, especially Dean who had some issues to work on his own - his unshakable guilt, for instance. After three months, Sam himself felt mostly at peace with was he was feeling for his brother. It wasn't anything new, after all. He had felt this way for Dean ever since he'd hit puberty. He'd just buried it as deeply as he could for as long as he could.

"Dean, I…"

I'm sorry I made a dirty joke about you taking it up in the ass? Anything he would say would be worse than the joke itself.

Without slowing, or even turning to face him, Dean swung his hips and growled, "You want a piece of this fine ass, you'll 'have to earn it."

Sam froze on the spot and felt a violent blush warming up his face. "Shut up," he squeaked.

They were almost at the top of the hill and the rain was falling harder. Even with two flashlights on, it was hard to see more than two feet ahead. When the first lightning strike flashed in the sky, Dean cursed very creatively, the exasperation on his face illuminated for a brief second.

"Dean, watch out!"

The cemetery was just in front of them, behind a shallow row of thin trees on their side of the road. Sam grabbed Dean's arm and yanked him behind some cold and wet bushes, crouching. Dean copied him without a word.

"What is it?" he whispered.

"I saw her," Sam explained while checking his gun.

Dean peeked over the bushes and saw a very pretty, innocent-looking girl kneeling in front of a grave. Candles were lit all around her in spite of the rain and wind. Quickly ducking back, he said, "Fuck. We're after Sabrina the teenage witch. She looks ready to go to the freaking prom, Sam!"

Right then, the wind faded for a few seconds and Sam could hear a loud and melodious Latin chant through the rain.

"What the hell is she doing?"

Dean's jaw was clenched when he answered, his head cocked to the side to hear more clearly. "She's raising a spirit from the dead."

"Damn it. Let's go, we can't wait any longer."

::: :::

The hunt was over, but neither of them felt like celebrating. The witch wouldn't be killing any more innocent people. She was dead. When they finally got back to their motel room, Sam and Dean were soaking wet. The rain was still falling.

Sam quickly scanned the room, checking the salt lines and the protection symbols on the walls while stripping himself of his clothes. He took a look at his brother, who was trying to get away with taking some Tylenol without Sam noticing it. Dean made a face and began to undress slowly.

Dean was shivering, jaw was clenched to stop his teeth from chattering, face pale except for two red spots on his cheeks and the dark circles under his eyes. He looked utterly miserable.

"You can have the first shower," suggested Sam.

"You should take it. It'll do your knee good."

Sam sighed. "My knee is fine, Dean. Just a little sore. Come on, you look like shit."

"Well that's nice to hear. I don't…" Dean stopped talking and took a shuddering breath. Then he sneezed three times in the crook of his elbow.

"Bless you."

"Oh, shut up," snapped Dean. But he walked to the bathroom and closed the door behind him.

He was coming down with a cold, that's what it was, Sam thought, remembering one of the students they had questioned three days ago. The poor guy had been sniffling and coughing the whole time and Dean had been closer to him while Sam had carefully kept his distance.

Sam went through his and Dean's duffels, picking out warm nightclothes and adding a pair of wool socks on Dean's pile. He was cold and wet and felt a bit miserable himself.

Freezing in his spot, Sam took a look at the closed bathroom door, hesitating, as he had so often for the last three months. When Dean had been saved from Hell, the six weeks following had been full of tension and desperation. After that, taking their relationship to the next level had been a rough and uneasy road. They were still learning and testing their limits. Still, they had been together long enough. Surely, Dean wouldn't mind sharing a shower with his brother.

He walked to the door and turned the knob. It was unlocked. Hum. Interesting. Sam took off his boxers and drew back the shower's curtain, startling Dean who was leaning against the tiled wall, eyes closed, letting the water fall on his chest and legs.

"Sam, what the hell?"

"Didn't feel like waiting," Sam answered, feeling a lot more nervous than he was letting on.

To his relief, Dean grunted but stayed still. Sam stepped towards him and kissed his forehead. Even then, Dean didn't try to push him away.

"I think you have a fever."

"I'll live."

"You really don't look well."

"Oh, for fuck's sake, Sam. It's only a cold. I'm not dying. "

His lips were red and shiny. Sam couldn't help but kiss them. The kiss was nice and tender but brief, as Dean couldn't breathe through his nose. When they parted, Sam bent his head and saw his brother's cock half-erect, pointing towards him like an invitation. He pressed his groin against Dean's, feeling his own dick hardening. Dean moaned and put his arms around Sam's waist, then lowered his hands to grip his ass.

"Feels good," murmured Sam, tilting his head to suck lightly on a sensitive spot under Dean's ear.

"Hell yeah," answered Dean, pushing his hips towards Sam, his breathing already quickening.

They moved like that for a minute or two, then Dean suddenly stopped.

"Sam, I'm gonna…"

"What, already?"

"No, I…"

Dean suddenly pushed Sam away and sneezed again. Blushing furiously, he mumbled an apology. Sam laughed softly.

"All right, let's take this to the bed."

A few minutes later, they were both lying under the covers, still naked and a little wet, kissing slowly. Every now and then, they would have to stop for Dean to cough but he was soft, warm and more pliant than he ever was in Sam's arms, slowly giving up control. It was a euphoric sensation that got Sam so excited he thought he might be able to come just from that. That was the thing, with Dean. He had so much trouble letting himself go. He tried. Sam noticed it and was grateful, but it was a slow learning process. Sam knew where all of this came from. Dean's opinion of himself was anything but positive and he was still giving himself a hard time about the whole incest thing, like he had forced Sam into it, like he was abusing him. It didn't matter that Sam told him again and again that he wanted it, had wanted it for years. It didn't matter that it was Sam who made the first move. Dean was John's son, after all, and all those year of defining himself as Sam's big brother and his father's hunting partner had taken their toll on him. Behind the mental walls he had built for himself, Dean was insecure and constantly scared of losing Sam, of losing himself in his brother. Giving up control was also letting Sam peek behind those walls and Dean was fighting it. Still, Sam had promised himself he would let his brother know what a good man he was, how much he loved him and needed him. He could be patient. He had the rest of his life to work on it.

Tonight, though, Dean was tired and sick and all Sam wanted was to take care of him, in any possible way. When his brother looked at him, green eyes big and dark, Sam thought he could actually see Dean's soul.

"Want you inside me, Sam," he said, voice raw and deep.

"You sure?" Sam asked, trying to hide the tremors in his voice.

Dean had only bottomed once since they were together. Sam wasn't complaining. He was content with whatever they had, but this was another sign of Dean trying so hard to let himself go, and Sam knew how much of a big deal it was for him.

"Yeah, I'm sure."

Sam got up almost franticly to fetch the lubricant in the bathroom. When he came back, Dean was lying on his belly, knees bent, his head resting on his hands on the pillow. He looked so vulnerable that Sam couldn't repress a long moan and was suddenly and almost painfully filled with love, desire and possessiveness. He kneeled between Dean's legs and started to rub soothing circles on his back while slowly opening him with his fingers. Dean was usually quiet during sex, except for the times he was in the mood for some dirty talk – and God, could Dean have a dirty mouth when he felt like it - and he mostly panted and grunted almost silently when they were making love. This night, though, he was moaning constantly, sometimes letting out soft sobs, and it drove Sam half crazy with need. He was working Dean's prostate with three fingers in when his brother suddenly sighed loudly.

"Come on, Sammy. I'm ready. Get to it. "

"M'gonna make it good for you, Dean, I promise," Sam answered, slicking himself up.

Dean laughed softly. "I know you will."

He tilted his ass up and then Sam was slowly pushing inside him, lost in the pleasure of Dean's muscles so hot and tight around his cock.

When he was entirely inside, Sam stopped moving and bent himself over Dean's body, hot and shivering, kissing his neck and whispering obscenities in his ear. After a few seconds, Dean pushed his ass against his crotch. "Move, Sammy."

"Okay." Sam set up a slow pace, still sucking on Dean's neck and tasting the soft skin. His brother was not only moaning and panting but he was actually talking. More, need more, Sammy. Feels so good. Harder. Harder, please.

It was the begging that actually did it for Sam. He felt his balls drawing up against his body, full of this tingling sensation. He rose on his knees and reach under Dean's stomach to get a hold of his cock. Dean actually screamed when Sam started jerking him off. He didn't usually leak a lot, but now there was a little stream of precome gliding over Sam's fingers.

"M'close, Dean."

"Me too. Need to come, Sam…"

Dean was panting harshly, his skin covered in sweat. Sam jerked him faster. It only took four more strokes before his brother gasped. "Gonna come, Sam, fuck, gonna come right n…"

And then he froze and arched his back before letting out a loud sob. Dean's sperm covered Sam's hand as he gently stroked his brother through his orgasm and his inner walls clenched around Sam's cock. Sam buried himself deeply inside Dean before coming, crying his brother's name. Trembling, he slowly pulled out and collapsed besides Dean on the mattress, catching his breath.

"Holy shit that was good," grunted Dean after a few minutes of silence.

Sam laughed. "Yeah, it was."

"And now I'm all sticky and gross."

"Want me to get a wet towel?"

"Wow, Sam, you a psychic or something?"

"You're hilarious."

By the time Sam was done washing Dean, his brother was already half asleep. His skin seemed cooler than before. The shower and Tylenol had probably helped, Sam thought, feeling some weight lift off his shoulders.

"Love you," he whispered, settling himself beside his brother.




"About this hunt…You… you wanna talk about it?"

Dean opened his eyes and frowned in annoyance. "No, Sam, I don't wanna talk about it. I killed a seventeen-year-old girl. What's to talk about? "

"You did what you had to do. You saved my life. "

"I know."


"Good night, Sammy."

Dean turned his head and kept silent. He began snoring soon after. Sam lay still, thinking about the burning corpse of Meredith Landon in the cemetery. That hunt had been a bad one; the kind that felt like the brothers were only there to contain the damages.

They had been dragged to this little quiet town after Sam had read an article about a series of strange suicides amongst the local high school's students and staff over the past six months. It had pointed toward witchcraft, and the Winchester brothers had been shocked to discover that the witch responsible was a sweet-looking teenage girl, first of her class, captain of the handball team and editor of the school journal. Not that all witches were old and ugly, but it took time and experience to learn how to work such powerful curses. Meredith had been responsible for the deaths of five people, including the English teacher who had given her detention for using her cell phone in class and the shy boy who had beaten her in a chess tournament.

She hadn't had time to complete her ritual when they'd finally reached her that night. She had been out of her mind, totally demented. Dean had been pointing his gun at her while Sam had tried to talk to her but she wouldn't listen, and soon after she had pulled a little wax doll out of her pocket. When she had crushed the doll's leg between her fingers, Sam had felt an excruciating pain in his left knee and had dropped to the ground. Dean had taken his shot then and Meredith had fallen backward with this incredulous expression on her face. She'd been dead before she hit the ground. As if that wasn't bad enough, it had been raining so hard that it had taken several tries to set her body on fire. They had had to use two bottles of lighter fluid to get the fire going.

So, all in all, it had been one of these hunts that left a bitter taste on the back of Sam's mouth, and he couldn't wait to be on the road again.

He was still seeing Meredith's big blue eyes when he fell asleep.


Sam was having a very unpleasant dream. It was the same nightmare that plagued him every night after the events in Harmony, six months ago. He wasn't having it so often now, maybe once a week or so, but the way it drew him back to the state of desperation he was then would got to him every time.

In his dream, he was facing Lilith as she wore Ruby's skin and she would try and fail to destroy him. But then the strange man in a trench coat (if he was a man, which Sam highly doubted) wouldn't come. Lilith would escape just as Sam was coming at her, and he would be left with his brother's broken body, Dean's dead eyes painfully vacant, crying his despair and calling for the stranger to come and get his brother out of Hell. Then he would wake up, breathless, and know that he wouldn't be getting any more sleep that night, unable to take his eyes away from Dean.

That night, however, he was just getting to the worst part of the dream when he woke up, startled by a strange noise that turned out to be his brother coughing harshly. He sat up on the bed and turned on the light, already knowing before he was fully awake that Dean wasn't lying next to him anymore.

He saw his brother wrapped in the old comforter they sometimes used when they had to sleep in the Impala. He was sitting on a wooden chair on the other side of the room, his legs bent underneath him, trying to blow his nose with shaking hands. When Sam got to him and crouched in front of the chair, he saw that all of Dean's body was shaking and that he was drenched in sweat. His eyes were glassy and unfocused.

"Hey Dean, what are you doing here?" Sam asked quietly.

Dean looked startled to see him there, and he blinked a few times before letting his handful of tissues drop on the floor.



"Couldn't breathe. Needed to sit. "

Dean's teeth started chattering, and Sam brushed his palm across his brother's forehead. The skin there was dry and burning.

"Your fever is up. Wait here. "

Like Dean was in any state to go anywhere. A moment later, Sam was back with the tympanic thermometer they had stolen on their last trip to the E.R. months ago. Dean looked at him like he was crazy and moaned in discomfort when Sam put the thermometer in his ear.

"Shit, Dean. 104. Come on, you're taking a shower. "

"But I just took one"," Dean protested in a very un-Deanlike voice.

Without waiting, Sam dragged a very unsteady Dean towards the bathroom, gave him some more Tylenol and started the shower while his brother swayed listlessly while sitting on the toilet lid. There was no way Dean could stand on his own under the spray so Sam helped him into the shower stall and stood there with him. Confused and disoriented, Dean leaned against him, resting his head on Sam's shoulder. The water was tepid – Sam had once read that cold water could shock a fevered body and therefore raise his temperature instead of lowering it. Still, Dean shivered violently and mumbled something about rain and snow and busted heaters.

"Come on, Dean. It's only for a few minutes. "

"You're here," Dean said, soft and unsteady.


Sam cursed himself. He should've seen it coming. Dean's illnesses tended to follow the same pattern, including a fever peak in the middle of the night. Fevers affected Dean badly. John had once told Sam that Dean had even had seizures once when he was two years old and his fever had gotten too high. In this state, Dean would get confused very often and his carefully built walls would suddenly disappear.

Sam hated it. Because then Dean's mind would revert to some of the most difficult moments in his life, as if all the pain and fear contained and not dealt with needed to find a way to get out of his system.

"Killed a girl," Dean said, pressing closer to Sam.

"You had to."

"She's dead."

"Yeah, I know. It's alright, Dean. Come on, stay under the spray."

"You're here, right?"

God. Sam was tired. So tired. And his knee hurt like hell.

"'Course I'm here. Where else would I be? "

"Why? Why would you want to - "

Dean was interrupted by a coughing fit so harsh he almost puked. Sam held him still and rubbed his back. "See? Stop talking, man. You'll hurt your throat. "

It seemed to work. Dean sniffled and wrapped his arms around Sam's waist, quiet and still. When Sam himself started to shiver, he shut down the water. He took Dean to bed, dressed him in comfortable clothes and put some pillows and a folded sheet under his back so that he could breathe better. Dean's eyes seemed more focused, and Sam was relieved to find that his fever had lowered to 102.9.

"Now try to get some sleep," he said, while Dean looked at him with sleepy eyes.

"Thanks," Dean answered back.

He yawned and closed his eyes. He was snoring shortly thereafter.

Sam rubbed some soothing ointment on his damaged knee and took a chair to sit next to the bed. He watched Dean sleep, an open book on his thighs, and let the hours go by.

It was almost five in the morning when he decided to make a trip to the 24/7 store he had noticed down the street when they found the motel. He made a list of cold medicine and food he would buy to get Dean through his cold (Sam liked to make lists, it made him feel in control). His brother was fast asleep, and he thought for a minute about sneaking out of the room without telling him, but he didn't want Dean to panic if he was to wake up and find that Sam was gone. Instead, he shook his shoulder lightly. Dean immediately opened his eyes with a grunt.

"Hey, Dean… You with me? "


Dean rubbed his eyes and cleared his throat while Sam explained to him where he was going.

"Coffee," he moaned while stretching on the bed.

"Dean, I'm not sure it's…"

"You come back with tea and I'll end you."

Then, Dean grabbed a tissue from the bedside table to contain a coughing spell. He looked inside it afterward and made a face. "Hey, Sammy, take a look at this. It's exactly like the ectoplasm we found in this haunted house back in…"

"Shut up. You're disgusting. "

But Sam was smiling as he walked through the door. If Dean could make some dubious joke about his bodily fluids that meant he was getting better.

The sun was rising as Sam made his way to the store. The sky was this rare shade of pink with spots of orange. It was beautiful. The air smelled like rain and an unseen bird was singing. Sam found himself humming as he got out of the Impala, a coffee tray in one hand, a grocery bag in the other. He put the bag down to fetch his motel key in his pocket, still humming, and then...he saw.

The door wasn't entirely closed. He was sure it had been when he had left - forgetting to lock a door behind them wasn't a thing hunters could get away with. Drawing his gun from the back of his jeans, Sam slowly pushed the door open.

Then he dropped the coffee tray and screamed his brother's name.

Because Dean wasn't alone in their room anymore. He was lying on his back on the bed, trapped under a woman who was sitting on his legs, her long red hair falling to her face. Dean's stomach was uncovered and it was bleeding from a cut just under his navel. There were some strange symbols drawn on his belly with the crimson fluid, and the woman was pointing the long painted nail of her index finger just above the cut.

Dean didn't seem to be really conscious. His face, white as a sheet, was scrunched in a painful expression and his eyes were rolling inside their sockets.

"Get away from him!" Sam cried, pointing his gun more firmly.

He knew the woman, had met her two days ago when he interrogated her, still not sure who the witch was. Her name was Hannah McPherson. She was Meredith Landon's aunt. God, he was such an idiot. He should have known a witch as young and powerful as Meredith was would have had a mentor.

"Calm down, Sam. See, if I push my finger just on the right spot, I'll kill your brother. Lower the gun. "

Hannah's voice was shaking with anger and excitement.

"What did you do to him?"

"I told you to lower your gun."

"And I asked you a question," Sam snarled.

"Wanna know what I did?" Hannah was smiling now, the same demented smile Sam had seen on her niece's face the night before. "I punished him! You killed my niece. This is payback. "

"She was a murderer."

"She was going to be a great witch! And now she's dead, thanks to you. "

Dean moaned. Hannah McPherson shushed him and tightened her long legs around his thighs.

"I discovered some dirty secrets while reading your brother, Sam. I could still feel your semen in him. You guys are twisted, you know that? Now, drop the gun. "

Sam was thinking frantically. He knew he could probably take the witch down before she could do more harm, but he wasn't a hundred percent sure and, anyway, firing a gun in the morning on a quiet street was never a good plan. He remembered his knife tucked in the inside pocket of his vest and made a decision. He had a hidden advantage: people tended to believe he couldn't be fast because he was so tall and broad. They were wrong.

Lowering himself to put the gun on the floor, Sam made a run for it and practically flew over the bed, taking Hannah with him. They stumbled on the floor and Hannah immediately reached for Sam's face, yelling and trying to claw at it, but Sam was stronger. He held her by the arms and shook her.

"What did you do to him?" he asked again.

Hannah just smiled, showing her teeth, and started an indistinct Latin spell under her breath. Dean immediately began to shake on the bed, his mouth open on a silent scream.

Sam knew he didn't have any choice left. He took his knife and slashed the witch's throat.

She choked and let out a wet scream, trying to contain the blood's flow by pressing on the cut, but Sam was an effective killer when he had to be and seconds later, life left Hannah's dark eyes and her body collapsed on the floor already wet with her blood.

Sam instantly forgot about her and sat on the bed, gripping Dean by the shoulders and letting his head rest on his thighs. He shook him forcefully, feeling his own body hot and quivering with fear.

"Dean. Hey, Dean, come on, man, talk to me. "


Dean's voice was a bit slurred, but he immediately opened his eyes and tried to fight Sam before realizing that he wasn't trapped by the witch anymore. "Sam," he repeated, already more alert.

"You alright, Dean?"

"No, I'm not alright. The bitch jumped me. I don't know what… I couldn't move I… Where is she? "

"She's… she's dead, Dean."

Dean looked down his body and frowned. His breathing quickened.

"What did she do to me?"

"I… I don't know. She…"

"The symbols, Sam. They burn. Please wash them off… I can't… "

Sam ran to the bathroom and came back with a wet towel. Before he started to clean Dean's stomach, he took a picture of the symbols with his cell phone. Dean was watching him, raised on his elbows. He lay still while Sam washed the blood away. Underneath, the skin seemed normal.

"Feeling better?"

"Yeah. Why the fuck did you take a picture? "

"Because we don't know what she did to you."

Sam was looking at the cut under Dean's navel. Blood was still oozing from it, but it seemed quite clean. He went through their first aid kit and found antibiotic ointment and clean gauze. The wound would need stiches, but it would have to wait. They had to get out of this town as quickly as possible.

It seemed as though Dean was ready to fall asleep again while Sam took care of his wound.

"Dean, no falling asleep now. We need to move"," Sam said.

"M'alright, Sam. You know… even if she put a curse on me, she's dead now so it should…"

Dean was interrupted by a coughing fit. Sam helped him to a sitting position to protect his injury.

"You know what I think of this theory of yours. That was Dad's too. Some curses last way longer than the one who made them. Come on, Dean. Can you stay still? I'll help you get dressed. "

"Of course, I can."

Dean seemed offended, but he was swaying on the bed and his eyes were getting this glassy stare again. He tilted his head to the side and looked down at Hannah McPherson's body, frowning.

"Hey, isn't that the nice lady from the bookstore?"

"Yeah, that's Meredith's aunt. God, Dean, I'm sorry, I should've known. I shouldn't have left you alone."

Sam couldn't take his eyes away from the bloodstains on the floor. He knew he was slowly but surely losing his composure. There were so many things he had to do and he didn't even know if Dean was going to be alright.

He felt his brother's hand around his wrist. "Sam," Dean said, voice calm and steady. "You did good. I'm gonna be fine. Now, just do what you gotta do one thing at a time. "

Sam let out a shuddering breath and brushed his hair away from his forehead. Dean knew him so well, it was almost frightening sometimes. And there he was, waiting for Sam to take the lead, trying to hide his pain and giving him a reassuring smile.

"Yeah"," Sam said. "Everything's gonna be alright. "

Then he got to work.