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    • starpollen
      Part 3 - Smell Six months later   Look out! Draven ducked without question, and Alyc’s dragon-form roiled fire through the air where his head had just been.  He smelled the acrid smoke, the ends of his hair singeing. The hunter spun and fired, the crossbow bolt slamming into the werewolf’s chest with a hard ‘thunk.’  The creature sucked a startled yelp, its long fangs bared, claws curled into fists. But the rest of the pack was still coming, one or two pausing to glance at their fallen brother (sister?) before bounding forward. Alyc spread its midnight wings, whipping the long serpentine tail and catching a furry body with the barbed point.  This magnificent form was as tall as the trees, its scaly hide nearly impenetrable. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for its curved, arched nostrils. “ehg-KSHttt!” A jet of flame accompanied the itchy outburst. “Not now!” Draven roared, whipping a long knife from his belt and sinking it into the large ‘were that was currently trying to bite his arm off.    The creature’s dense weight twitched and writhed before going still in death. The man shoved it off him, catching the musty odor of wet dog as he drew another arrow from the quiver at his back and jammed it into the crossbow shaft.  I’m not doing it... on purpose!.. The shifter arched its long neck, turning vertical pupils toward a pair of ‘weres that leapt at Draven’s back.  Its massive jaws descended, teeth snapping through one’s neck with a loud crunch while its claws batted the other away before either could touch the hunter. "Hyieh-... ehkksht-kshht-shht!... " Three fireballs caught another ‘were in its gaping maw, knocking it back before Draven could even pull the trigger. “Stop getting your face so close to them!”  Having Alyc sneezing through the telepathic link was not a distraction either of them could afford right now. Most people just say ‘thank-you.' “Fucking stubborn…” Draven dropped the crossbow and pulled the glock from his shoulder holster.  “... little shit…” Firing rapidly, he took out three more with silver-tipped bullets. “...shifter…”  The whole clearing now smelled strongly of dirty, dusty dog.   I love you, too. The leader of the pack had stayed on top of the ridge, its inhuman eyes surveying the massacre below.  That werewolf was bigger than any of the others by at least two hundred kilos, older, and likely was the one responsible for this particular pack growing in number over the past several months.  The Alpha. The one Draven had been hired to take out. “I’m going after it,” he called to Alyc, who was playing cat-and-mouse with the last ‘were, herding it into a natural corner made by a large fall of rocks.   Wait!   Draven didn’t wait, snatching up the crossbow and sprinting toward the ridgeline. Dog and blood. Sweat.  Gunpowder. And hot metal.  The scents of battle mingled in the night air, filling Draven’s nose with comfortable familiarity.  A cool breeze cut across the hunter’s sweaty body from the east, and with it came another scent. Alyc. Glancing up, Draven watched as the shifter’s dragon form blotted out the moon, the creature winging gracefully to where the Alpha waited.  Alyc could fly faster than Draven could run, and it clearly would reach the werewolf first. “That one’s mine!” Draven growled, knowing Alyc couldn’t hear him from that dizzying height. Little shit never fucking listened anyway. By the time Draven hauled himself to the top of the ridge, Alyc and the Alpha were locked together in a fierce wrestling match, a tangle of scales and fur and two types of fangs and claws, growls and hisses and grunts of pain in two different octaves. The Alpha had shredded Alyc’s left wing.  Alyc had torn open the ‘were’s belly. Both jaws were snapping at any exposed limb they could reach.  The coppery tang of blood hit the back of Draven’s throat. Raising the crossbow, Draven struggled to find a safe aim, to hit the Alpha but not his shifter. But there just wasn’t one. So, black eyes narrowing, Draven swallowed hard and fired.  The bolt leapt from the bow, streaking across the clearing and finding its mark. Through Alyc’s wing.  Into the Alpha’s eye. Fuuuuuuuuck... the shifter ground out a growl between fangs clenched tight, its dragon-stretched vocal cords rumbling low and gravelly.  You didn’t have to... do that… It was panting through the pain. I... had this... “Your left wing says otherwise.”  The hunter stalked to where the pair lay on the ground, grabbing the bolt by its exposed shaft and yanking hard.  Part of the ‘were’s eyeball came with it. Alyc roared with pain, losing control of the dragon and snapping back to its birth-form with terrifying speed.  Draven knelt to survey the damage. Long gashes dripped blood down the slender back, other cuts and bruises marring the lightly tanned skin.  Alyc’s cheek was already darkening, having taken a hit at some point in the melee. But nothing was broken. All in all, Draven considered this a successful kill. The shifter brought a fist up to rub at one itchy, swollen eye, nostrils beginning to flare in those telling little ‘o’s.  It was still practically in the wolf’s lap, the bristling, dander-ridden fur brushing against the shifter’s face, which was collapsing into a sneezy expression that fairly screamed 'allergic.' “Ah!-  tdsschht!-tdjsscchh!... ehh?-- hih’JDRrsscht! -oo” Draven groaned.  Once the kid started up, it wouldn’t be able to stop for hours...  “Let’s get you away from all this nappy dog-shit.” Reaching down, Draven helped Alyc to wobbly feet, careful not to touch any of the open wounds.  Alyc’s hand came up to scrub at itchy nostrils, breath still hitching. You didn’t have to shoot me.   “Ehkksht-kshht-shht!... ehhh-jddsh!  ahhjZZddsh’ht!” I thought we were friends. They had an agreement: the shifter would only use telepathy when it was in a form that made human speech impossible, or in a life-threatening situation.  But Draven knew why Alyc was using it now - the kid was sneezing too much to talk.   The hunter hated that sibiliant mind-voice, even as he bit the inside of his cheek at the rippling sensation that traveled down the link with each wet sneeze.   Shrugging out of his coat, he draped it around the kid’s slim shoulders, not even blinking when Alyc brought one sleeve up to the twitching, dripping nose. “ehh?-- h’KShht-kshht-ehhKGshht!... hyieh… hih’JZDrsscht! -oo…” Draven hummed lightly in the back of his throat, feeling every nerve ending he had sizzle with the echoed need-relief-need that shivered through the link.   “Stop,” the older man caught a sneaky hand that was climbing up to scrub at red-rimmed, watery eyes.  “You'll make it worse. That shit is all over your hands.” Alyc broke the link. Draven felt the sharp pang of loss. “I’b ihh- itchy...  ’yiEh-huh!-GDJTSSCHHttt!! …*sdff*”  Alyc’s hand changed course to pinch and rub his nose, which was now visibly running and twitching like mad. “Fuhhh… ahkksht-kssht-shhht!... kshhtT!... Ugghhhh… fuhhckig d-hh!... d’YAHHtshooo!...  dogs... hhih’GXSCHT-hyieuu!!”  He blinked, sniffling wetly.  "HIEH!--hk’GYEITSSSCHHT-heHH-DJSsshhtt’oo!-AAH'DZZSChh'uu!"  Draven got them home, dropping all the weapons just inside the door and steering the sneezy, sniffly creature into their shower.  The scent of beef stew permeated the apartment, Alyc having loaded the crock pot before they’d headed out on the hunt. It made Draven’s stomach growl and his mouth water. But, first things first. “N’y’ niehh…  hah--KTSCHooo… heh-heh-HEH!... hyeh-YITSCHiie… huhng…  AhhHH-DJSHHhttt!! hh?-- hih’JDRrsscht!” The kid was sneezing harder now, less of the itchy, just-exposed, blast-the-dander-out fits and more of the longer, irritated, allergic-body-reacting-needlessly-forever kind. Its eyes were swollen nearly-shut, red-rimmed, puffy and watering.  Its nose was in perpetual flare, round nostrils poised precariously on the eternal edge of the next sneeze. The damp rims quivered, rippling with dander-induced tickles. Slim hands hovered helplessly, cupped in front of the sneezy face to catch each desperate release, sniffling wetly between. “*sdrffll-sdff* ... hyehhhuh… … eh-HEH-gkk’ZZZDjjsshhiiooo… *snffl* ... -tschu-tschu-TSCHEU’uu!” “Here,” Draven tugged his sneeze-drenched coat from Alyc’s quaking body, not minding when another wet sneeze misted his arm.  He peeled his own blood-and-sweat-streaked clothes off, dropping everything in a pile just outside the bathroom door. The shifter sprayed another pink-nosed sneeze into the air, the droplets twinkling in the light, before pressing the heel of one hand under its itchy nose and rubbing hard.   “ ehhehhehh??...” “Bless you.” "...hyieESSHHt!-HEhhsshtt!-hiYEIISSHHtt!..."  Alyc dragged the back of its hand across both watery, bloodshot eyes, sucking another wet sniffle. The hunter wet a washcloth in the sink, using his big palm to press it over the shifter’s whole splotchy face. “ehh?-- hih’JDRrsschmpt!  ugh... td’scchhmp-dj’ssshhmt... HEzzjdrrrsssh’oooMPt'huh… ”  Alyc sneezed into the cloth, still sniffling.  I’m getting really tired of this.  “dj’SHIeww!--hyeii’GKdzttschhh!...” “I know, kid,” Draven murmured, wiping the damp rag down the running face, cleaning up as much as he could.  Both hands bracketed the curly brown head, pulling it close to rest against his broad chest. The prickly, tickly feeling shimmered across the link, allowing Draven to feel a shadow of what was going on in the younger creatures' irritated tissues. “N’y’ niehh… Ehkksht-kshht-shht!... ...  ... huhng… ... ehhehhehh??... ... ahhjZZddsh’ht!... hyehhhuh… ... heh-heh-HEH!.. ... . ehhh-jddsht! …” Each sneeze sent electric sparks dancing down Draven’s spine, settling low in his belly and causing a deep ache of want throbbing through his bones.  Before he ended up making a mess himself, Draven shuffled them both into the shower.   The light, spicy scent of shampoo slowly rinsed the blood/metal/dog from their skin, and Draven leaned Alyc against the tiled wall so he could look at the kid’s torn back.  After the blood was washed off, they didn’t look too bad. The hunter kept a med kit on the same shelf as the soap and shampoo, and was able to clean them with some antiseptic.   The sharp scent of the liquid pricked the back of his own nose, and he flinched to the side with a tightly bottled, “Ngxt! -ah” Alyc turned its head, wet curls plastered to the furrowed forehead.  “Dihh... hyie'hhITSCHHuuu!”  Did you just sneeze? “Yeah,” the hunter gave a sharp sniff. The shifter smiled around an oncoming sneeze, one side of its upper lip higher than the other.   I don’t think I’ve... ever… “Ittscchiiewww…” heard  “tdscchu-tdschuu-tDZZschhiieeww…” ...you sneeze before. “Well, now you have.”  The older man washed the kid’s hair for it, to distract himself from the intense, shivery pleasure those wet, incredibly ticklish sneezes had buzzed down the link through his body. When they were both clean and dried off, Alyc’s wounds bandaged, he settled the shifter on the couch with a box of tissues and spooned them both two big bowls of stew.  The younger creature’s allergic reaction was dying down, its face slowly fading to its normal colour even if its nose and eyes were still flushed crimson, thoroughly irritated. “Next time, no werewolves,” Draven rumbled around a mouthful of carrot, the aroma of beef and veg and spices lulling him into a relaxed slouch. Alyc pressed a tissue to his tender nostrils, sniffling wetly.  “I wadt to help.” “I know,” Draven cracked open a beer, the hoppy-bitter scent drifting up from the can.  He canted a soft smile at his shifter. “And, just for the record… you do.”
    • LostGirl2.0
      Hey guys! First time trying a Sam and Dean fic, so I hope it's ok!!!  I'm intending for this to be a case fic set in Season 3 sometime after A Very Supernatural Christmas, but before Mystery Spot.   (So Sam is still very much trying to find a way to save Dean's soul.) A/N: Also, real quick, I LOVE the hurt/comfort genre in supernatural fanfiction (particularly protective!Dean and hurt!Sam), so this story could probably be considered primarily that.  I just wanted to say that upfront because I do have plans to whump Sam a little bit (sorry!! (...butnotthatsorry...)) and I know that may not be some people's thing.     The Great Equalizer (Part 1)   “...a triple cheeseburger?! Sammy, did you see this picture? Look at how massive…” Sam let his thoughts drift from his brother's enthusiastic food-raving to the open window beside them. It was a beautiful day in southern Indiana. The diner actually had most of their windows open and a cool, gentle breeze was ruffling their red gingham curtains. God… Sam thought dejectedly. Every beautiful day turned bittersweet when you couldn't help but focus on the fact that you didn't know how many more of them your brother would get to enjoy. “...am? Hey! I just ordered for you, Space-Boy. Some chicken Caesar wrap thing. Hope that's ok. Dude, the waitress is…” Sam’s gaze absently roamed the car park outside. Looking but not really seeing. What haven't we thought of, he asked himself. There had to be some type of spell, some object that he could use to force the crossroad's demon to his will, to blackmail it maybe... A stronger breeze gusted in, carrying on it a fine spray of golden pollen that lightly dusted the dark wood of their table top.  Sam absently traced sigils in it while continuing to wrestle with his thoughts. “...ude. Have you even been listening to me? Sam!” Sam sighed. It appeared his time for introspection had passed. He supposed his brother had been talking to himself for at least ten minutes by now. He probably owed him something at this point. He unconsciously reached up with his pollen crusted fingers to rub semi-aggravatedly at his forehead and the headache that was now brewing there. He would sneak some Tylenol from the glove box once they got back into the car. It was too nice a day to be melancholy for longer than absolutely necessary. He sniffed and rubbed gently at a sudden itch in the right side of his nose. That wouldn't be fair to Dean either. He deserved as many great days as they could cash in on. He lifted his gaze to his brother's face to find him sitting with one eyebrow raised and his arms folded across his chest. Sam sighed and rallied himself to rejoin the moment. “You know you’ve had a bigger burger in Memphis. Remember the “Fugly Fiver”?” Deans initial look of surprise at the relevance of Sam's comment quickly melted into one of reflective satisfaction as he apparently did indeed recall said burger. “Also, a Caesar wrap is great, the waitress's name is Cindy, not Sandy--” he paused and rubbed more aggressively at his nose as the itch at the back of his right nostril twinged into more of a tickle. “And yes, I do think she was flirting with you, but so does that bearded guy at the bar who's been shooting you dirty looks for the past tehhh...ten minutes.” He cleared his throat loudly. “I'm thinking brother or ex, so probably not the best idea to stick around once we're done with our food.” Sam scrubbed even harder at his nose as the tickle suddenly turned into an outright fiery burn that now had him fighting hard against the urge to sneeze. Dean just blinked at him for a few seconds before finally shaking his head with a defeated smirk. “Sandy, eh?” he mused and picked up a folded newspaper that had been wedged behind the condiment stand. “...I was close.” “Hihh-he'ESSSHah!” Sam lost the battle. Dean shook out the paper to its full length. “Gesundheit,” he said absently. Sam vaguely nodded his thanks, sniffed, and rubbed at his nose some more. The itch, though slightly abated for the moment, had yet to go away completely.   Just then Cindy came back, arms loaded for bear with their food. Sam took a moment to appreciate the Triple Patty burger now in all its  three dimensional glory, and he had to admit, it was pretty impressive. Quarter pound patties each, at least. Dean looked like he had just won the lottery. Sam couldn't help the small smile that flitted across his face. In spite of the circumstances, Dean really was doing his best not to waste a moment. He watched as his brother folded the paper in half and set it to the side so he could continue to peruse while he dug in, which he proceeded to do post-haste. As Cindy leaned over to set down his own plate,  Sam quickly swept his hand across the table and brushed the fine dusting of pollen onto the floor.  He smiled and thanked her as she set his plate down. To be honest, the wrap didn't look half bad. I'll have to remember this place, he thought. Dean would probably appreciate coming back through. …Except that they probably wouldn't have another chance before-- Sam quickly curtailed that line of thought and voluntarily let himself be distracted by the mildly entertaining and yet thoroughly disgusting sight of Dean attempting to get his mouth around the burger all in one go. Dean had encountered bigger challenges in his many years of fine-diner dining and with a few well placed smashes, he got the burger down to something he could handle with minimal casualties to the toppings and sauce.  ...Some may still have made a trail down his chin, but so what?  Battlefields were bloody. That's just what victory looked like. He heard Sam snort a laugh across the table and looked up just as the kid began to dig into his own, actually, pretty good looking wrap, if Dean was going to bother to comment on rabbit food. He’d have to remember this place in case they came back through, he thought, then caught himself. In case Sam came back through. Dean barely managed to swallow his first delicious bite past the sudden lump in his throat and turned to the newspaper for distraction, staunchly refusing to go there with his thoughts today. Sam was already struggling not to be morose. Neither of them would get to enjoy the day it if they didn't have some form of distract--Well hello there…  “Dude, I think there’s a hunt here.” “Mmmm?” Sam hummed around a mouthful of wrap. Rubbing once again at the persisting itch in the side of his nose. He was beginning to get annoyed. It seemed the more he rubbed it the more it began to tickle, which was just counter to all prior knowledge he's had on the subject. “Yeah. Looks like six people have gone missing in the past week. The most recent one just yesterday.” Sam's eyes widened slightly. Wow... he thought. That was definitely an abnormally fast rate of disappearance. Not to mention a ton of people to... “Hih!” Damnit! Not again... Sam quickly swallowed his mouth full of food (because that would be messy and unpleasant for both of them), grabbed a napkin and twisted his body to the side. “So far--” “gnxt’CHHuH!” He’d half succeeded at stifling the first one into the napkin, but had little success with the rapidly following second. “ESSSHUU!” “Whoa! Bless you! You tryin’ to blow down the diner?” Dean teased. Sam blew his nose quietly into the napkin and tried to squash down his embarrassment before his face did a very accurate impression of a tomato. Ugh… He hated sneezing in public. Not to mention he could see his brother looking at him with a somewhat scrutinizing gaze out of the corner of his eye. Sam looked away uncomfortably and finished tending to his nose. When he looked back over at Dean his brother was once again engrossed in the paper as if nothing had ever happened. “Says here the police haven't been able to find any connections between the vics yet. The families are reporting that they just “walked off” and none of em have been seen since.” He looked up from the paper. “What do you say we give Lawrenceburg, Indiana more than just a passing glance? Six people in one week without obvious connection or motive…? Could be our kind of thing.” Sam hated the thought of another distraction from his research on nullifying the demon deal, but when he looked at at Dean and saw the fire in his eyes he knew there was no way either of them could really move on or focus on something else when six people were MIA right under their noses. Sam pulled the paper from his brother's grasp and gave it a quick once over. “Yeah, sure sounds like it could be our kind of thing. Just the rate alone is pretty concerning.” In present agreement on the fact that they needed more info, they finished the rest of their meal quickly and headed out of the diner--only to come face to face with a gold-dusted, pollen-covered Impala. “Oh you have GOT to be kidding me!” Dean exclaimed. Sam snorted. “I told you to wait until later in the Spring to hit up a car wash if we were gonna stay in the Midwest.” “But this is-- I mean, c’mon, Sam. There's the normal ‘slight-dusting-of-pollen-on-your-car-when-you-park-under-a-tree’ and then there’s this, which is like a freaking avalanche. The whole car is yellow!” He very nearly whined. “What the hell tree did this anyway?" He looked around wildly for any indication of a culprit. "There's no way this is natural…” he continued to grumble to himself and scowl at the nearby foliage as he opened a pollen coated rear door and reached inside for a rag. He also pulled out a water bottle which he half dumped out onto the rag. He then proceeded to angrily wipe down Baby's windows. Sam chuckled to himself and pulled open the yellow powder covered rear door on his side intending to grab a rag and help.  He paused for a moment though as he was distracted by a bunch of the particles taking flight in a golden swirl. It was kinda pretty, or it would have been if it wasn’t literally coating everything around them. A thought occurred to him and he grimaced. It was probably in his hair… He'd have to get dibs on the shower when they found a motel. He started to move forward through the dazzling cloud and into the car when he was hit with the urge to sneeze so fast he barely had time to turn his head and begin to lift his arm. “TCSHH! HI’TCHSHhhh!! hihh...Hih-HIH-hu’ESSHHUU!” Dean froze where he had been wiping down the rear window and just stared at Sam, completely stunned by the display. When Sam paused long enough to take a breath Dean pinned him with his gaze. “Ok. Now I was willing to let the three inside go as someone sort of freak incident, but six, Sam? What the hell?” “Dude, were you counting my sneezes?” Sam tried to laugh it off but truth was he was a little concerned himself. This wasn't normal for him. Dean, unknowingly, was in agreement. “You sneeze like once every few weeks, Sam. If that. So yeah, it's not that hard to keep track.” He looked hard at Sam again. Sam figured he was probably looking for the outward signs of some inward disease, but Sam didn't think he was going to find any because there weren't any to be found. “You ok?” Dean asked, after apparently coming up ‘sans signs’ from his search. Sam sniffled softly, rubbed at his nose, and shrugged. “Yeah.” Dean looked doubtful. “Honestly.” Sam affirmed. “My nose has been itching off and on since we were in the diner but that's it. I swear.” he held his hands up in submission. Dean’s eyes stayed slightly narrowed. Sam had the feeling he'd be the recipient of some covert ‘fever feels’ in the near future, but there truly wasn't anything to hide. Outside of his nose itching he really was feeling fine. When Sam's eyes meet Dean's again, Dean could tell Sam meant what he said. That he wasn't trying to dissemble. So, he conceded to shrug it off. For the moment anyway. Didn't mean he wouldn't be watching for a fever to pop up at some point later today though. He didn't want to start up a new hunt if Sam was under the weather and just too proud to acknowledge that he needed a break. It's not like we haven't been under tons of stress at all lately or anything, he thought wryly. He swung around and started to wipe down Sam's side of the car. After a few moments of doing so alone, he looked up to see what Sam was so busy with that he couldn't help, and found him standing nearby just staring off into space. “Hey. Earth to Sammy. Little help here?” Sam continued to stare, not acknowledging Dean in the slightest. “Hey!” It was then Dean noticed that Sam wasn't so much 'staring out into space’ as he was staring at a particular part of the woods off to the right of the parking lot. “You see some something, Sammy?” He asked, moving closer to Sam's side in order to take a better look for himself at whatever it was that so raptly held his brother's attention. “Sam?” He squinted into the distance, but for the life of him couldn't see a thing. “Hey!” He called a little more loudly, swatting at Sam’s arm with the rag he'd been using to wipe down the car and sending tiny puff of gold dust into the air. Instantly Sam's nostrils twitched and before he could do anything about it another sneeze barrelled out of him, snapping him nearly in half. “ISSHHHahh!” “Whoa! Jesus.” Dean jumped back startled, barely managing to dodge the spray. “Warn a guy.” Sam stayed half bent over and just blinked dazedly for a moment before he became aware that his nose was starting to twinge and tickle again. This time though he had enough presence of mind to fully turn and step away from Dean before he could be overrun by the sensation. “Warn-hihh! Warning you now.”  Sam buried half his face in the crook of his arm, and then stayed like that because all he felt was the most maddening tickle he'd ever experienced in his life. “Hih!  Hihhh-HIH! huhhhhhhh…. Hih! huhhh….” Dean, though still uncertain as to what had been up with Sam before, couldn't help but find his current predicament somewhat amusing.  “Dude” he snorted looking at his non-existent watch, “c’mon, sometime this century.” “Truhh….trying. Hihh! J-hih! Jerk.” He turned his head up towards the sun and opened his eyes as much as he could. “Hih-hi-HIH!”  Yep. That did it.  He quickly buried his face back in his sleeve and-- “hu’ESSHHAH!” “Finally! Bless you, bitch.” But Sam wasn't quite done. “Hu’CHSHHhh! ISHaH! Hihh-HIH!...ESSHHUU!” “Jesus. Bless you. You going for a record?” Dean made light of the whole thing, but he was watching Sam like a hawk. Yeah, this was definitely not normal. Sam sniffed hard and growled slightly as he scrubbed at his now itchy eyes. What the hell was going on with him today? As soon as Dean saw Sam start to rub at his eyes warning bells went off in his head. “Whoawhoawhoa!” He stepped forward and grabbed at Sam's hands. “Don't do that.” “God, Dean, they itch like crazy. What the hell is going on?” “Well, I'm not sure because you've never had em before, so it doesn't make sense they'd pop up all of a sudden… but the sneezing and the itchy eyes… Sounds a lot like allergies.” “What? Dean, I'm 25 and I've never had anything even remotely like this before. That was always your thing with the cats.” “Yeah don't I know it,” he grumbled, and swore he could feel his nose itch even at the thought. He looked back at Sam, hard. His eyes were red now and he was sniffling constantly from a runny nose. Sure seemed like allergies, he thought. But like Sam had said, what the hell? Could they really just pop up like this? He needed to do some research... For now though, time to take care of what he could. He reached in the still open passenger door into the glove compartment and pulled out two napkins. He passed one over to Sam with a, “Here, blow your nose, Sniffles.” The other he wet with a little bit of water from the bottle he'd used for the rags. “We can do some research on allergies when we get to the motel, maybe this isn't that unheard of? For now tho, get your ass in the seat so we can grab a motel room for the day.” He reached out and guided a squinting, watery-eyed Sam into the seat. “And put this on your eyes.” He dropped the wet napkin unceremoniously down onto his brother’s face. Sam started, “Dean what the--!” and grabbed at the wet thing that was now stuck to his face. Dean just swatted his hands away, shushed him, and patted him on the head condescendingly before walking back around to his side of the car. Sam left the napkin in place and quickly changed his tune as the cool dampness began to ease the irritation of his eyes. He moaned softly. “Good isn’t it?” Dean smirked as he shut his door, turned Baby on and headed out of the lot back onto the main highway. They drove for a few minutes in silence.  Dean, running back through all of his memories and combing them for instances when Sam might have displayed symptoms that could be consistent with allergies, and Sam-- “Dean?” “Yeah, Sammy?” “If this is how you feel every time you’re around a cat… I’m really sorry for putting Mrs. Nibbles in your gym bag.” Dean snorted. He actually remembered that. “I don’t even know how the hell you got her to get in there. It was actually pretty impressive for a three year old.” He had sneezed his head off for days after that and for some reason Sam had found it hysterical. “Still though...” “It’s all good, Sam.” Dean assured, smiling slightly.  Knowing Sam, the kid was actually going to feel guilty about this for ages now. Right at that moment he spotted a motel.  “Hey, Samantha, how’s this place look?” Sam peeled the napkin off his eyes, shot Dean a glare, and then looked out the window.  “The Fiesta Motel?” He blinked in confusion. “We are still in Indiana, right?” “I know.” he grinned, nearly bouncing in his seat. “Isn’t it great? I’m hoping for a complimentary tequila bar.”  He pulled the car into the front lot. “Stay here and chill for a second. I’ll get us a room.” He got out of the car and headed inside to the motel’s main office. Sam wadded the wet napkin up in his hand and experimentally sniffed. He could still feel a tiny bit of irritation, but not nearly as bad as before.   Experimentally, he opened the car door.  The breeze from before appeared to have died down and everything was quiet in the lot. He got the rest of the way out of the car and noted with approval that most of the pollen appeared to have blown off while they were driving.  Dean would be happy about that. He walked around to the back and popped the trunk to grab their bags. “Arrrrrrrrrriba!!” Sam looked up at his brother and immediately rolled his eyes. “Are you serious?” “Serious as the heart attack I’m going to have after eating these two complimentary burritos!  They’ve got a freaking Chipotle worthy burrito bar in there, Sammy.  We are staying in Southern Indiana for as long as we can.  This place rocks!” Sam just shook his head. Frequently over the years he had found himself wondering how they came from the same parents. Now was absolutely one of those times. “I take it the hat was complimentary as well?” “What? This old thing?” Dean asked as he jiggled the sombrero, proceeding to make the tiny hot sauce bottles that were suspended from the rim clink back and forth. “....You bought that didn’t you?” “Damn right I did.” Sam snorted. “Sam.” “Yeah, Dean?” “Guess what it does.” “What does it do, Dean?” Dean reached under the brim of the hat and pressed something unseen.  The hat immediately lit up in twinkling green, white, and red lights and began playing-- “The Mexican Hat Dance Song?” “I know.  It’s pure perfection.”  The hat continued to play and flash as Dean merrily reached out and snagged his duffel out of Sam’s hand. He turned and began to head toward the nearest wall of room doors. “Room 102!” He called, intermittently busting out a conga line step as he walked down the sidewalk shaking the wrapped burritos like maracas. Sam dramatically looked up the the sky. “Why God? Just…. Why?”  When God provided no justification for his actions, Sam shut the lid of the trunk and proceeded to trail along in the wake of his brother and the upbeat music. On his way into the room Sam caught sight of himself in the reflection of a window. Ugh. He totally was covered in pollen. That seemed unlikely to be helping things. He paused just outside the now open door to brush off his jacket. That didn't seem to cause him too much trouble, but when he began to run a hand through his hair in an attempt to shake it out the tickle came back with a vengeance. He groaned and lifted his arm expectantly. “hih! Huhhhh… HIH!” “Hey,” called Dean’s voice from inside the room and suddenly he was hit in the face by a small paper box. “Ahhg!” He cried out in surprise and belatedly shifted his arm to protect him from further incoming projectiles. “Allergy meds.” Came the delayed explanation. “Had em in my bag. They're expired but they might help till we come across a store.” “Mmmm”, Sam just grunted, eyes fluttering shut. The need to sneeze that had briefly abated when he'd been startled had returned tenfold. “Hih-HIH!” “Here.” Despite his distraction he felt a light puff of air on his face and squinted his eyes open to see a red bandanna now barely clinging to the fabric of his jacket on his chest. Yeah, good thought. He snatched it up rapidly and brought it to his face just in time. “EESSHuu!” “Gesundheit, bitch.” Dean’s voiced called from further inside the room. Sam gratefully blew his nose into the soft bandanna and huffed a soft laugh. “Heh…Thagks, Jerk.” He replied stuffily, and set about blowing his nose some more. “Seriously, take these meds.” Sam blinked up for the cloth as Dean was suddenly right in front of him, holding out the small box that had bounced off his head and onto the floor just a second ago. “Just in case.” Sam nodded and finished tending to his nose with a deep sniff. “Yeah, sure. Couldn't hurt.” He was really looking forward to that shower later on. He swore he could feel the grit of the stuff still in his eyes. Dean nodded in satisfaction and sat down at the table where he had somehow already set up Sam's laptop. “You got the list of names from the paper?” “I do, but I wanted to check into this late-in-life-allergy crap that might be kicking your ass first.” Sam shook his head. “I'm fine, Dean.” Dean just arched an eyebrow at him. “Ok, I mean, this is annoying as hell, but people are disappearing. As recent as yesterday so we need to figure out if this is our jam or not, and fast. I'll take these meds and I'll be good.”   Sam could see the big brother protective streak about to rear it's ugly head so he quickly headed it off. “If it keeps bugging me we can look into it tomorrow. It might just be a fluke or something today.” Dean huffed in disbelief. “Look, there's not a ton of daylight left so let's focus on finding out if this is a case first and then, I promise, I'll look into whether or not allergies can come out of nowhere like this.” Deans brow creased at that. “You know. This could be our kind of thing.” “That's what I'm saying--” “Nono, not the potential case. The allergies out of thin air thing ...You piss off any witches lately?” “What? Dean we've been together practically every day for the past year, you know I haven't. And it's just a few sneezes on one day. Hardly any reason to think I'm cursed.” Dean grumbled. “Tomorrow, ok? If it's still even a thing.” “Oh, it'll be a thing.” He groused. “Winchester luck, little brother.  Winchester luck.” Sam waved off his concern but couldn't help thinking that his brother probably had a point. When were they ever actually lucky?   To be continued...   (I'd love to know what you think!)
    • OnlyInMyDreams
      Ooh, cool! I'm not the only one that likes medieval/fantasy stuff. Yay! This is very well-written. Are you going to do more with Adran? I hope so!
    • matilda3948
      Thanks for the suggestions on what to try and incorporate into this story! Been a whiles since I've worked with original characters so I'm just getting my feet wet here. Not sure how many sections this will end up being.   He turned away from the podium and coughed into his fist for the second time that hour. His throat was scratchy and his voice had cracked in the middle of his lecture to a room full of undergraduates. Normally Mark would be embarrassed but he was pretty sure none of his students were listening to him anyway. “Excuse me,” he said, adjusting his glasses and glancing down at his notes, “Now, it’s at the beginning of the 16th century that we begin to see significant advances in the architecture of—” Damn, his voice cracked again. He sighed and looked around the room. “You know what? Let’s pick up with the 16th century on Thursday. Don’t forget your term papers are due next week. Come to my office hours if you need help.” The room instantly filled with the sound of scraping chairs and bustling students. Mark packed his notes into his bag and paused when he felt his nose itch. He sniffed and rubbed his nose back and forth. He didn’t sneeze but he did feel like he could use a tissue. “Really hope I’m not getting sick,” he thought to himself. A cup of coffee was certainly in order though and he made his way through the crowded hallways and towards the art history department offices. The cool late fall air nipped at him despite the fact that he was wearing a three piece suit. As a junior faculty member, Mark put a lot of care into his appearance since he was closer in age to his students than he was to many of his colleagues. The last of the fall leaves were swirling across the sidewalks and it wouldn’t be long before the first snow of the season and Mark was looking forward to seeing what the campus would look like with a layer of white. The moment he entered the building the change in temperature renewed the tickle in his nose. It was damper when he sniffled and getting some tissues was now a top priority. Unsure if he’d make it to his office, Mark ducked into the men’s room and grabbed a couple paper towels. They were rough but it still felt good to be able to blow his nose. He sniffed and immediately brought the paper back up to his nose, crushing the sudden sneeze. huhhchhoo! He sighed in relief, washed his hands, then looked in the mirror. He ran his fingers through his wavy black hair and attempted to straighten his tie; for some reason neither were willing to cooperate on a regular basis, always a touch messier than he would have liked. Mark still felt a tug of embarrassment when he remembered how the dean's wife had pulled him aside at the new faculty welcome party to straighten his tie. After dropping his bag in his office, he took a mostly clean coffee mug to the department break room. Mark smiled when he saw Bethany was there. She was hired at the same time he was and it nice having someone else in the same boat trying to navigate the strange world of academia as new faculty. They were allies of sorts: she had more experience navigating university administration and he had more experience living in a climate that routinely had snow, ice, and wind. She turned around when she heard someone behind he and smiled when she saw it was him. “Hey Mark. How was class this morning?” She held out the pot of coffee and filled his mug. “It’s been a long week, to be honest,” he said. “Mark, it’s Tuesday,” she laughed. God, was it really only Tuesday? He was Friday-exhausted. “I stand by my comment,” he said with a smile. “It’s going to get even better with our awesome committee meeting today.” “Oh, I forgot!” he groaned. “Blocked it out is more like it,” Bethany said, sipping her coffee. He laughed but it quickly stuck in his throat and Mark turned his head away and coughed into his fist. The jostling motion caused him to spill coffee on his other hand and he hissed in pain. “Got it,” Bethany said, taking the coffee cup and wetting a paper towel in the sink. He cleared his throat once the coughing stopped and he wiped the hot coffee off his hand. “Thanks,” he said, taking his coffee back and finally getting to take a sip. “You feeling okay?” she asked. “Fine. Just a little off my game this morning,” he said. Bethany could hear a touch of hoarseness in his voice but didn’t mention it. “You look dressed for the arctic,” he said, happy for a reason to change the topic of conversation. “It’s freezing here!” she moaned. Bethany was in at least three layers that Mark could see. Topped off her some knee high leather boots and the print scarf twisted around her throat she looked every bit the southerner facing her first winter in the northeast. “It’s in the 40’s today. What are you going to do when it’s actually freezing?” he teased. “Don’t remind me. I feel like I’m cold all the time already.” “And I’m not sure this old building has functioning he—hehuhh…heh hhh—heat,” he managed to finish his sentence before turning away and sneezing into the bend of his arm. uhh hhhtschhoo! Huhtschhoo! “Bless you!” she said with surprise. Mark slowly lowered his arm, unsure if he was done sneezing or not. “Excuse me,” he said, giving his nose a rub. She smiled and checked her watch. “I should get going. I’ve got about a thousand emails to answer. Top off your coffee?” Bethany asked. He nodded and she refilled both their cups. They left the break room and walked together towards their offices. “Thanks for seeing me to me door,” she teased as their offices were right next to each other. “Committee meeting in an hour.” “Can hardly wait.” * Mark shifted in his chair and tried focusing on what the dean was saying to the group of faculty members gathered around the large conference room table. “Resting his eyes” in his office for an hour hadn’t helped him shake the fuzziness that had steadily been getting worse since the morning. He was dangerously close to having to admit he was catching a cold. He’d been forced to upgrade his throat to “sore” and there was a congested, buzzing sensation in his sinuses that made he feel like he needed to sneeze. Bethany was to his left diligently taking notes as people droned on about classroom cap sizes, learning outcomes, evaluation metrics. She only paused to pull her sweater tighter around herself. There was something about her constantly being chilled in this northern climate that Mark found incredibly endearing. That combined with her sharp mind and the touch of southern accent that leaked through when she was relaxed made her an intriguing woman. Mark shook his head slightly and sniffled; he really needed to focus. He could zone out in meetings once he had tenure. Bethany’s pen paused when she heard Mark sniffle. It didn’t take a genius to see he was a little under the weather. She felt bad for him—these meetings could give a healthy person a monster headache, she couldn’t imagine trying to limp through one when already feeling poorly. A sudden flash of activity to her right caught her eye. She turned her head and saw Mark had lurched forward stifling a sneeze. He sat back up briefly, thumb and forefinger tightly pinching his nostrils shut, before shaking forward with another silent sneeze. The husky exhale and liquid sniffle that followed was the only audible noise he’d made. She resisted the urge to bless him since he was clearly trying to be discreet. His poor noise seemed less inclined towards discretion though because not five minutes later Mark repeated the ordeal, sneezing three times in quick succession. Bethany reached down into her bag and found the travel pack of tissues she kept in the front pocket. She opened them and pulled one to the top before reaching over and putting her hand on his wrist. When Mark looked over she slipped him the tissues under the table. He blushed but this was really no time to look a gift horse in the mouth. In fact, Mark had been trying to figure out the most discreet way he could leave the meeting room because he was in desperate need of a Kleenex. Instead his friend had quietly come to his rescue. He brought a tissue to his nose and gave it a single quick blow, a little louder than he would have liked but it increased the chances he could make it to the end of the meeting without sneezing again.

    • Serendipity
      Love this!!! You always write the most adorable characters!
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