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Forest For The Trees (SPN) (Secret Santa for Gingerdean)


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So, this has to be posted in sections. In my defense, Mint said in the rules that we were allowed to write a novel, as long as it was finished in time. turned.gif

Gingerdean - I hope you like it!

To all - Happy New Year!!


“We’re going where againd?” The somewhat congested question was punctuated by nose blowing and a petulant lilt.

Dean, sighing on the inside, shifted in the driver’s seat, and adjusted his grip on the steering wheel. He knew Sam was getting over a really shitty cold and that he still just didn’t feel well. He felt bad for Sam, he really did.

But he was tired of Sam’s bitchiness.

“It’s the Apple Harvest Farm Village. Dad knows the owner...was in the Marines with his son. The guy called his phone looking for him, ‘cuz there’ve been some weird animal mutilations and a few people in town have gone missing. He wanted Dad to come take a look, but - “

Sam interrupted, “But they don’t understand that he won’t talk to us, so why would he talk to them.” This statement was punctuated by a sniffle, a swallow, and huffy arm crossing.

Jesus Christ.

He’s sick. He’s sick. He’s sick. Don’t kill him. He’s sick.

This time, Dean sighed on the outside. “Sam, don’t bring that into a case.”

Sam rolled his eyes just before his head snapped forward. “Heh-etschuh! Hih-hxngt!” He stifled the second one against his shoulder, keeping his head pressed against his sleeve for a second before straightening up and brushing the hair from his eyes. “I won’t, Dean. I’b not a dick.”

Ehhhhhh, argue later.

“I know, Sammy, I just…let’s stay focused on the case, okay? Listen, this place is pretty cool. We went to one like it when we were kids. They have a whole apple orchard, along with some farm animals, hay rides, an amazing restaurant where the fried chicken is fresh, not frozen. Not frozen, Sam. Do you realize how cool that is?”

Sam had to chuckle a little at Dean’s enthusiasm. “I bet they make all their desserts from scratch, too, huh?”

Dean shrugged, managing to keep a straight face. “I dunno, maybe? I didn’t ask about that.”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Of course you didn’t. Where’re we staying?” He pulled a fresh tissue from the box wedged between them and blew his nose.

Dean grinned and waggled his eyebrows at Sam before returning to the road. “The town’s bed and breakfast hotel.”

Sam paused mid second blow, tissue covering his face, and stared at his brother. “What did you say?”

Dean chuckled. “You heard me.”

Sam finished up and shoved the used Kleenex in a plastic bag at his feet. After a pathetic sniffle, he asked, “With a real bed? And real blankets?”

Dean nodded, a small smile on his lips. “Yuuuuuuup. This place is its own village. C’mon. Easy gig. Livin’ nice for a bit.” And you get a comfortable place to rest and get better. Win-win Sammy...feel it….feeeeeeel it….

Sam sighed. “Yeah, okay. We’re working anyway. Might as well be comfortable.” He slumped in his seat and stared out the window.

Dean fought the urge to groan. He couldn’t wait until Sam wasn’t pissy anymore. He blinked, realizing the folly of that statement, and started to laugh out loud.

Sam turned to him, eyes narrowed. “What?”

Dean shook his head. “Nothin’. Take a nap, Sam. We’ll be there in a few hours.”


Sure enough, a few hours later, the Impala took Exit 54A and entered the town of Apple Harvest. Sam couldn’t believe someone actually named a town Apple Harvest. Small town, midwest America never ceased to amaze him.

Billboards lined the road, directing tourists into the heart of town, with the promise of hospitality and never ending fun just around the corner. Sam squinted out his window while running a tissue under his nose. He didn’t mind handling another case. It kept him busy...focused...not obsessing about Jess on the ceiling and their whole apartment, their whole lives, going up in --

“Holy shit, Sam, lookit this place. It’s unreal!”

Sam blinked and shook his head. “Yeah, man, it’s like...from a movie or something.” Sam forced a smile for Dean’s sake, and returned to gazing out the window.

Every building that lined the road had flower boxes on their sidewalks and windows filled with deep red and bright yellow mums. Giant bales of hay, accented with pumpkins and corn stalks sat on street corners, reminding visitors that fall was here.

Sam shifted in his seat, scrubbing a hand across his nose as it itched for the fifty-hundredth time that day. He was so tired of this cold, and really surprised that Dean hadn’t caught it yet. Dean’s been running ragged trying to keep Sam busy while they looked for Dad. Sam being plagued with nightmares every time he closed his eyes was an added bonus that kept Dean (well, both of them) from getting enough rest.

He also knew he was a pain in the ass while sick, unable to mask the depression and impatience that consumed him every day. The itch took hold, and his breath hitched a little.

“Bless you, Sam.”

Sam barely glanced at his brother as he quickly fished the tissue out of his pocket and promptly sneezed into it. “Thanks,” he murmured, pausing to make sure there was only one.

Dean smacked him on the arm. “Oh my God, there’s a general store. We’ll get you more Kleenex. Oooh - there’s the tavern! Their website said they make their own beer, Sam, and there’s like, ten different kinds!”

He’s trying. He’s just excited. He’s trying. Don’t kill him. He’s just excited. Sam pinched the bridge of his nose as he felt the headache from earlier creep back in. He wanted to be excited about mutilations and missing people. He really did. But he wanted to not feel like shit even more. Still, he took a deep breath and gave Dean a half smile. “We’ll have to try it out.”

Dean neatly pulled the car into a parking spot at the Harvest Inn, and turned off the motor. He sat a moment before blowing out a breath. “Look...Sam...I know you still feel like shit. I took this job because I figured you could do your magic research from a nice bed for a change. Getting real food that’s actually good for you couldn’t hurt either.” He looked over, his eyes sad and pleading. “Just lay low, okay? Kick this thing in the ass and feel better.”

Before Sam could say anything, Dean clapped him on the knee and got out, leaving Sam sitting there feeling both thankful and guilty. However, given that his girlfriend was murdered by a demon a few months ago, he let go of the guilty and chose to concentrate on the thankful.

They pulled their bags from the trunk and walked inside. The inn was decorated to the hilt in an autumn harvest decor. Every corner and horizontal surface was filled with assorted pumpkins, scarecrows, straw, calico corn and leaves. The fall color spectrum blanketed the furniture, and the smell of baking spices hung heavy in the air.

Dean led them to the front desk, where a cheerful middle-aged woman greeted them with an accent that wasn’t quite southern, but seemed a distant cousin. “Welcome to the Harvest Inn! We’re so blessed to have you here with us. Do you have a reservation?”

Dean dropped his duffel to the floor and gave her his best smile as he leaned on the counter. “Uh...yeah. Kind of. We’re here at the request of the owner. I’m Dean Winchester, and this is my brother Sam.” He gestured at Sam who smiled at her, right before an annoying cough forced his face into the crook of his arm.

The woman tsk’d at him, sympathy all over her face. “Oh you poor thing - you sound terrible. I’ll get you some of our homemade hot apple cider - it’ll clear you right up!” She turned to a young man standing at her elbow, quietly instructing him to get them both a mug of the good stuff.

Dean stealthily elbowed Sam in the ribs. See?

Sam huffed a breathy laugh, and rolled his eyes.

Once the boy scrambled away, the woman turned her attention back to the brothers. “Ok! Where were we? Oh, yes. Winchester, right?” She clicked on a keyboard and deftly set a pair of glasses on her face. “Here you are. Ahhhh...I see. You’re guests of Mr. Aldridge!” The glasses came off, and she let them dangle from the slender gold chain around her neck. “We’re definitely glad you’re here, then. You have the suite on the top floor. I’ll have Paul show you to your room once he gets back with that cider. Now, everything is on the house, boys, so you just make yourself at home.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” Dean started, only to be interrupted by the woman, who flapped her hand at him.

“No thanks at all. We want your stay to be as comfortable as possible. Besides, I know a bad cold when I see one, and you, young man,” she pointed at Sam with her glasses, “have a bad cold.” She put her glasses back on and gave Sam a scrutinizing look. “You’re getting better, but you still feel awful. Am I right?”

Sam glanced at Dean before answering, noting Dean’s smirk. “Um...yeah...I mean, yes, ma’am. I’ve been...a little…” He snapped his head to the right and muffled a sneeze in his shoulder.

The woman gave another tsk, accompanied with a head shake. Paul returned carrying two large mugs of cider, and handed them to the brothers. The woman smiled a thanks at the boy and handed him a room key. “Paul - these gentlemen are in the Harvest suite.” He nodded and smiled as she turned back to Dean. “Now, my name is Karen. You need anything, you just let me know. Dinner is being served for another hour, so if you want to get all settled and come back down, you can get a good meal in you before bedtime.”

Dean smiled again, raising his mug to her with one hand while shouldering his bag with the other. “You got it, Karen, and thanks.” They turned to follow Paul, Dean feeling pretty good at this point, because Sam actually looked about five percent less negative. He held the mug up and took a sniff - mulled spices and a touch of what he swore was brandy.

They took about two steps when it hit him - a sudden itch in his nose that flared without any warning. In one fluid move, which he would totally brag about later, he stepped back, practically slammed the mug on the counter, and cupped his hands over his nose. “Heh-ETSHCHuh!” He paused a moment, blinking rapidly and trying to see if he’d sneeze again.

“Bless you, dear!” Karen said, holding out a Kleenex.

Dean glanced at her, and was about to say thank you, when, “Hhhh-TSHCHuh!” He sniffed and reached for the offered tissue. “Thanks - got a nose full of that cider and it just...caught me off guard.” He sniffed, then waggled his eyebrows at her. “Didn’t spill, though!”

Sam raised an eyebrow, with a yeah, sure look on his face. He knew it was only a matter of time.

Not caring that strangers were present, Dean was prepared to launch into a fully detailed explanation of how the sneezes were totally from the cider and not from an impending cold, when Sam gloatingly took a sip of his own cider, and just as quickly, “HXKNGT!”, right against his wrist.

That was holding the mug.

Cider splashed everywhere, making Sam yelp as the hot liquid scalded his wrist and hand. Luckily Karen was all over it, because Dean was too busy giving Sam his own gloating look. He practically crowed, “It’s strong, huh, Sammy?”

Dean knew, there was no way he was catching Sam’s cold - he’d been dosing himself with Vitamin C and any over-the-counter product that pledged to keep Sam’s cooties from infecting him ever since Sam’s first sniffle.

Sam shot him a baleful look that lasted all of a second before succumbing to Karen’s wrist mopping. “Well, we certainly started off on the wrong foot here, gentlemen. Give me back those mugs, and when you come down for dinner, I’ll have the bartender whip up a batch that isn’t so strong.”

Both brothers gave their thanks, and followed Paul to their room.


As soon as they were alone, Dean plopped his duffel on a comfortable looking chair next to a fireplace. “I can not believe you spilled hot cider all over yourself.” He laughed as he peeled off his coat, laying it over the back of the chair. He faced Sam and made a gimme gimme motion with his hand. “Lemme see your hand.”

Sam glared at him before checking it himself, huffing the whole time. “It’s fine, Dean.” But he held it out for inspection anyway, knowing that arguing was a waste of time.

Dean clucked his tongue like a grandma, earning him another glare from Sam. “I’ll get some of that burn cream from the med kit, just to be safe. It’s pretty red. Want me to kiss it? Make it better?” He batted his eyelashes, laughing as Sam snatched his hand away.

“Fuck you. I didn’t think the spice was that strong.” He mumbled, stomping to the closet. He hotly shrugged out of his jacket and hung it up. A red blush, that Dean knew was not from fever, took up residence on Sam’s cheeks. Sam hated being the center of attention, and the cider incident certainly pushed him into the center.

Not wanting to lose the momentum of Sam’s overall dissipating grumpiness, Dean decided to acquiesce. Turning his back on Sam in an effort to give some space, Dean answered, “Me either - it was crazy. I took one sniff and my nose just exploded.” He pretended to rummage through his bag while Sam got a hold of himself. “You ready to get some dinner?” He asked casually, as if the teasing never happened.

The closet door shut behind him (shut...not slammed…) and he pictured Sam running his fingers through his hair. “Yeah...I’m actually hungry.”


“Awesome. Let’s eat then find Mr. Aldridge.”


Dinner was beyond amazing. Even Sam ate somewhat enthusiastically. True to her word, Karen brought them some cider that wasn’t packed to the hilt with spices, and the brothers downed three mugs each.

Maybe there was still something in the cider, the spices used in the fried chicken, or maybe the brandy was fucking with him, but Dean’s eyes watered a bit throughout dinner, making his nose run just enough to be annoying, but not enough to catch Sam’s attention. He was not (notnotnot) catching Sam’s cold, so it had to be something with dinner.

After consuming an enormous slice of homemade cherry pie (“Sammy!!! Look at this crust!”), a portly gentleman arrived at their table. His graying hair was still full on his head, and his face was pleasant and friendly. “Sam and Dean Winchester? I’m George Aldridge. I can’t thank you enough for coming!”

Dean ran a napkin over his mouth before shaking George’s hand. “No problem at all. Sorry Dad couldn’t come himself - he’s tied up with work on the coast.” Sam almost choked on the last of his cider, prompting Dean to kick him under the table.

Grimacing as he reached down to rub his shin, Sam added, “Yeah - it was no problem at all. Thank you for giving us a room and everything.” The last part was sincere. Sam was now full, warm, a smidge buzzed from the brandy, and practically drooling for the bed. But the case was first and foremost, and they needed information before settling in for the night.

“Least I can do, boys. I mean it. It’s been a crazy few weeks over here.”

Dean’s eyes flickered to Sam before setting his napkin on the table. “Do you have a few minutes to talk now?”

Nodding quickly, George gestured behind him. “Absolutely. Come on into my office.”

Both brothers stood slowly, noting how heavy they felt after the huge meal. “You want some more cider?”

In unison, they responded, “Noooo...thanks. We’re good.”

George nodded again, and led them out of the dining room and into a large office. The walls were panelled with dark brown wood, accented with various framed photos of historic village moments. Filing cabinets and bookshelves lined the walls, with the noted absence of all the knick knacks that filled the rest of the inn. He pointed to a couple leather chairs, heading straight for a small bar tucked away behind his desk. “Please - sit. I’ll make us a drink. I’ll need one to tell this story.”

One of the chairs had an afghan attached to some knitting needles on the seat. Dean picked it up just as George turned around with three glasses of whiskey. “Oh, shoot, that’s Helen’s stuff. Hold on…” He set down the glasses and reached for the yarn.

Dean smiled at him, more interested in the whiskey, when his eyes welled up, making his nose run. He handed over the knitting assembly, blinking furiously, as a small itch blossomed in his nose. Dean sniffed hard, but still, “Heh’tschhuu!

“Bless you!” George said over his shoulder as he placed the knitting on a shelf.

Dean glanced furtively at Sam, who was too busy reading the cover story on a newspaper that was threatening to fall off George’s desk.

Nodding a thanks at George, he took the whiskey, and sat in the chair.

“Mr. Aldridge,” Sam began, not even looking up when the shot glass was placed in front of him.

“Please - please call me George.” The older man sat behind his desk and grabbed a stack of newspapers from a pile on his right.

Sam looked up and flashed him a smile. “George...according to this article, you’ve experienced three disappearances so far?”

George nodded, taking a sip of his drink. “Yes, two visitors and one local. We’ve never had anything like this happen here before!”

Dean sniffed again, running a finger under his nose to make sure the itch would stay away. “And what makes you think it’s Dad’s sort of thing?” He liked being vague, never sure just how much people knew.

George sighed and steepled his fingers. “I’ve lived in this town my whole life. Everyone’s friendly here - local authorities have never even given a speeding ticket, let alone a robbery or kidnapping! It just doesn’t happen here! It started a few weeks ago. We had a couple stop through. Not the typical tourist, mind you, they were a little more…” He circled his hands in the air as he searched for the right words. “...modern? Hip? I dunno how to describe them. Still, they were nice folks, made no problems and seemed to like our village.”

Sam nodded attentively, taking a small sip of his whiskey. He was already exhausted, and a glass of what was obviously high quality alcohol, would make him crash right here in the office. As he set the glass down on a small table, he noticed Dean sniffling, trying to surreptitiously scrub at his nose while blinking watering eyes.

Quick note to self - throw Dean’s not-so-secret stash of vitamin C at his head when we get upstairs.

George went on to explain that the couple had left the inn to explore the town, particularly the small new age gift shop that sells unique items collected from around the world. “They never came back. Left all their stuff in their room, too. Worse yet, the shop employees and owners never saw them. How do you disappear in the middle of a tourist town like this?” He leaned back and shook his head.

Dean coughed a little. “Missing people aren’t really Dad’s...thing. Maybe this is just something for the local boys to deal with.

George picked up his glass, tossing it back neatly. He shakily put down the glass and leaned forward. “Here’s the part that isn’t in the papers. A few days later, police did find a few of their personal items, scattered in a field. One shoe, his belt, and part of her purse. All of it covered in blood.”

Sam scrunched up his face. “Part of her purse?”

George nodded vigorously. “It was torn in half - scratch and teeth marks all over the piece they found. Marks were too big to be a domestic animal, too refined to be a coyote. Besides, what coyote wants half a purse?”

The kind that isn’t really a coyote, Dean thought, swiping at his nose yet again. What the fuck is up with my face? He now noticed a small headache, and his eyes felt a bit gummy. Dean vowed to throw the vitamin C into the garbage when he got back to the room.

He gave Sam a knowing look, noting irritably that Sam saw the nose rubbing before returning it.

Sam cleared his throat. “Okay, Dean said you also had some animal mutations?”

George closed his eyes and sighed, as if to say, Oh yeah, those things. “Right after that couple went missing, people’ve spotted small piles of rodent bones throughout the town. Sometimes there are parts of the animals in the piles. Mostly gophers or groundhogs, but we identified the bones of mice, a few rats, and even some birds. It’s weird - they’re in piles, like...like something’s trying to be orderly.” He shuddered. “It’s crazy!”

Sam was leafing through the pile of papers on the edge of George’s desk. “Is that mentioned in the papers?”

George shook his head, eyes wide. “Heck, no! People think we’re adding a Halloween theme to our setup. It’s bad enough knowing that three people disappeared.”

Dean narrowed his eyes. “Who’s the third?”

George sighed and slumped in his chair. “A local - nice girl named Ida. She worked at that gift shop I told you about - The Equinox. She just disappeared completely without a trace. Now, the owners said she was missing her folks, and wanted to visit them, but no one thought she’d just up and leave without saying goodbye.”

Dean raised his eyebrows. “But it’s possible, right?”

George shrugged his shoulders. “Sure, but she left all her stuff behind, including her purse and her glasses. Poor child’s blind as a bat without them, and they were found sitting on her bedside table. She lived in the apartments above the shop. That’s where the owners, Iris and Fiona, live, too.”

The brothers exchanged another look. Dean nodded slowly. “Okay...this could be our sort of thing. We’ll snoop around tomorrow morning, see what we can find out.”

A smile lit up George’s face. “Oh, you have no idea how relieved that makes me. Whatever you need - you’ll get. I promise!”

They both rose to their feet, Dean quickly finishing his drink as he stood - he wasn’t about to waste whiskey no matter how full he was. They shook hands, and while Sam was in the middle of asking about wi-fi connections, the itch was back in Dean’s nose, and he knew he couldn’t shake it. He twisted to the side and waited, hands already cupped over his nose. “Hhh’ihhh-ETSCHshuh! TSHCHSHUuu!

“Bless you!” George snagged a box of Kleenex and held it out. Avoiding Sam’s gaze, Dean took one and stammered a thanks.

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Back in the room, there was an uncomfortable silence, as Sam tried to find the most annoying way to tease Dean about catching his cold, and Dean tried to find the most definitive reasons possible for his sudden sneezing. And headache. And runny nose.


Deciding that the bigger torture would be making Dean wonder when the teasing would occur, Sam changed into sweats and crawled into bed, laptop already open, without mentioning it. “So...three missing people, two obviously chewed on by something animal-ish, and piles of bones. What do you think?”

Dean shook his head. He changed into his own pajama pants and headed towards the bathroom with his toothbrush and toothpaste. “I dunno. This one’s not as clear as I thought it’d be.” He gooped up his brush and called out from the bathroom, “Wendigo?”

Sam snorted into a Kleenex and settled under the comforter. “In the middle of a tourist village?”

Dean spit into the sink and voiced his own grunt. “Werewolf?”

Sam clicked on the keyboard and heaved a sigh. “No missing hearts, no bodies at all. Plus, it’s the wrong time. The lunar cycle won’t be right for another week.”

Dean tucked his toothbrush back into his toiletry bag and squinted at Sam. “How the hell do you know that off the top of your head?”

Sam squirmed, his eyes flickering to his brother in annoyance before returning to the screen. “It’s important to keep up on that stuff, in case annoying brothers need to know about lunar cycles from younger brothers instead of looking this shit up on their own.”

Dean blinked at him, and gave Sam a look that simply said: Well played. “Alright...I’m gonna get some sleep, then poke around in the morning.”

Without looking up, Sam muttered, “We. You mean we are gonna poke around in the morning.”

“Whatever. You know what I mean.” Dean crawled into his bed, almost crying at how comfortable it was. He had no intention of waking Sam in the morning...so if the kid wasn’t awake when he was ready to leave, then Sam’ll get a couple more hours of rest. It was worth the bitching. Besides, if he really was coming down with something, he’ll know in the morning, and having some time to grab more supplies without a hovering audience was definitely desired.

“Night, Sammy,” Dean said, yawning as he switched off the lamp by his bed.

Sam muffled a sneeze into his pillow. “Night, Dean.”


For some reason, Dean woke before his alarm. He switched it off after a quick glance at the other bed revealed a snoring little brother, spread eagle, the covers twisted around him like ribbon on a May pole.

Dean lay in bed a few minutes, taking stock of how he was feeling. The headache and runny nose was gone, or at least not apparent right then. The low-grade itch in his nose disappeared too, leaving Dean symptom free. Resisting the urge to fist pump the air, Dean decided to chalk the whole thing up to exhaustion and a really fragrant lobby.

Quietly, he dressed, wincing every time he accidentally made noise. He really wanted Sam to get more sleep. For once, he wasn’t restlessly tossing in bed, plagued with nightmares, and Jess’ name on his lips. After pulling on his jacket, Dean stood and watched Sam flop from his back to his front, pausing mid-flop to scrub his nose against the pillow. Yeah, there was no way Dean was waking him.

He scribbled a quick note and patted down his pockets, making sure he had his phone, keys, bandana, and wallet. Dean straightened the comforter so it covered Sam, then quietly left the room.

Dean bounced down the steps into the lobby, feeling pretty good. In fact, he felt great. Sam was sleeping, he wasn’t sick, and there was a fugly waiting to be killed. So far, today was awesome.

Karen was again at the front desk, and she smiled at him as he approached, her glasses plucked off her face and left to hang from her neck. “Well, good morning! You look chipper! I take it you slept well? How’s Sam?”

Dean grinned and leaned against the counter. “The beds were fantastic, Karen. Sam’s still passed out.”

Karen smiled back and closed what appeared to be a ledger. “I knew our beds would knock him out.” She leaned closer and winked. “I bet the cider didn’t hurt though, huh?”

Dean laughed, “Sam’s kind of a lightweight, so the cider was perfect.” He straightened and gestured with his head towards the front door. “I’m gonna take a quick look around town before he wakes for breakfast.”

Karen placed her glasses back on waved him off. “Go have fun. If I see him, I’ll let him know where you are.” She waggled her finger at him. “But make sure you come back - Kitchen’s making blueberry pancakes and fresh sausage for breakfast today.”

Dean’s mouth fell open, and for a second, a second, he forgot about the case entirely.

Karen laughed outright at his expression and waved him off again. “Git goin’.”

He shook his head, smiling, and left the hotel. This is the best gig we’ve ever had.

The crisp fall air smacked Dean in the face once he stepped outside. He shivered and zipped his jacket closed. Shoving his hands in his pockets, Dean set off down the street, smiling politely at other early risers taking in the sights of the festive town. His eyes darted every which way, the only sign that he wasn’t just casually strolling along the sidewalk.

Dean passed an old fashioned ice cream shop and the drug store he spotted on his way into town. He made a mental note to stop and grab more Kleenex and cough drops on the way back to the hotel. After crossing the street, his eyes caught sight of a large decorative display on the far corner. It was quite the pile of hay bales, a scarecrow, and a stuffed black cat. It even had...a small pile of bones in front of the cat.

Looking around to make sure no one was watching, Dean sauntered up to the decor and crouched next to the bones. After taking a couple pictures of the arrangement, he pulled his bandana from his pocket. Dean shook it out and picked up the tiny pile, wrapping them carefully before stuffing them into his pocket. As he went to stand, a sudden itch in his nose took him by surprise. Dean’s hand was still wrapped around the fragile pile of bones, so instead of covering his mouth and nose, he buried his face against his shoulder.

Hhh’hrrsSHHYuu!” He blinked a couple times, sniffed and stood, removing his hand from his pocket and scrubbing his nose. Fuck - one more - “Hh’ehhhETSCHyuu!” This time, he did cup his hands over his mouth and nose, hoping that they hid the flash of annoyance that lit across his face. He paused, sniffling, before pulling his hands away.

Could he be allergic to the fake cat? Because he wasn’t sick. He glared at the stuffed cat, who was fake concentrating on the fake crow perched on the scarecrow’s shoulder.

Doesn’t matter that you aren’t real. Fuck you, anyway.

Dean wiped his hands on his jeans and continued walking, checking out the other businesses, which were still closed. After walking most of the town and finding nothing else of interest, his phone rang in his pocket.


“Hey there, Sunshine, how’re you feeling?”

“Why didn’t you wake me?”

He heard the sound of Sam blowing his nose, and decided to head off the scolding. “I dunno, Sam, maybe because you were actually sleeping for once, and you needed it?

Sam fell silent, and Dean decided to let that just sink in a bit. “Look, I’m just walking around town. Nothing exciting. Stores are still closed and hardly no one’s out here. I’m on my way back right now.” He checked his watch. “Breakfast gets served in about fifteen minutes. Make yourself pretty, we’ll grab some food, then check out that Equinox store...”

Just as he finished that sentence, Dean looked through a storefront window. There were pendants, crystals, herb packets, incense sticks, books, and CDs, all artfully arranged amidst a flurry of celestial decor. His eyes traveled above the door and saw the sign, The Equinox, neatly painted, with a full moon substituting for the letter O.

“...which I just found.” He squinted at all the paraphernalia. “Hey Sammy - they have belly dancer wraps. Think they’ll have your size?”

At the other end, Sam huffed. “I’ll grab a shower, we’ll eat, then investigate the store together.”

As Dean hung up, he thought, Isn’t that what I just said? Rolling his eyes, Dean put the phone in his pocket, and made his way back to the hotel.


Sam hadn’t slept that well in months. Or at least, since the fire. He grudgingly had to admit that the setup for this job was probably the best they’ve ever had, and he was thankful that Dean took the case. He was definitely on the recovering end of his cold, only needing to deal with the occasional sneezing and runny nose.

He not-so-subtly left his cold medication on Dean’s bedside table, and took a long, hot shower. As he got out, he heard Dean’s key card in the lock and a Boston song being hummed as Dean made his way inside. They nodded hellos, and Sam quickly dressed.

“So, nothing exciting going on so far?” Sam asked, as he pulled on his jeans.

Dean shook his head, setting a plastic bag filled with a couple boxes of Kleenex and a bag of mentholated cough drops on Sam’s bedside table, while pointedly ignoring the medicine on his table. “Nope. It was pretty quiet. I’m sure it’ll get busy soon, though. Oh - hey, I found one of those bone piles.”

Sam pulled his shirt on and began running a towel through his hair. “Yeah? Did you take a picture?”

“Did better than that. I swiped them.”

At Sam’s raised eyebrows, Dean produced the bandana wrapped bones, laying them gently on the token hotel room desk. Sam walked over and sat in the wheeled chair, flicking on the lamp before opening the bandana. “Did you - “

Dean took out his phone. “They looked like this.” He showed Sam the pile, neatly arranged next to the evil fake cat.

“Huh…” Sam muttered, returning to the bones laid out before him. He poked at them a bit. “Well, they look like rodent bones, especially the jaw bone, here.”

Dean plopped on his bed, giving Sam a How the hell would you know? look.

Sam blew out a breath. “Some of us remember the stuff they taught us in school, Dean. In fifth grade we had to dissect owl pellets, which contained a variety of rodent skeletons.”

Dean just blinked at him.

Sam huffed and shook his head. “Nevermind. Just take my word for it, okay?”

“Oh, I always take your word for it, Sam. I just can’t believe you remember where the word came from.” He crossed the room and examined the bones. “They’re fairly picked clean, but there’s still some meat on them.” He pointed to a couple joints and what was possibly a femur.

Sam leaned back and nodded. “Yeah, I noticed that, too. So these aren’t fake, and they weren’t cleaned before being left outside.” He looked up at his brother. “Something ate the meat, then left the bones.”

Dean sat back down and rubbed at his chin. “Question is, what? We got plenty of creatures that’ll eat flesh, but I don’t know of many who like to do arts and crafts with the leftovers.”

Sam shrugged and rubbed at his eyes. “I dunno. Maybe a visit to that store will help.” Just then, his stomach let out a loud growl, startling them both.

Dean laughed. “I guess we should eat first, huh?”

Sam grinned, and grabbed his jacket.


Breakfast was as amazing as their dinner the night before. No cider this time, but the coffee was fresh and strong. Annoyingly, Dean’s nose started running again about halfway through breakfast. After sneezing twice, Sam quietly handed over a menthol drop and a handful of tissues.

Dean sighed, and grudgingly accepted the gifts.

“C’mon, man, it was a matter of time. You know that.” Sam kept his eyes on his plate, as he listened to Dean blow his nose.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever. Let’s get going and see if we can get this case wrapped up before this gets too bad.”

They quickly finished up, and made their way down the street towards the new age shop. Many of the shops were now open, and Dean noticed that more people were milling about, window shopping as various street vendors began setting up their wares.

“Looks like it’s still kinda early,” Sam noted, his eyes mimicking Dean’s from earlier as he took in all the sights.

Dean nodded, clearing his throat. “Yeah, so maybe we’ll get a quiet peek behind the store, huh?”

Sam tossed a classic Are You Nuts look his way. “Everything will be open soon - including the store - and people will be all over the place.”

Dean grinned and waggled his eyebrows. “Exactly. Perfect time to break into the back and check out the apartment of that Ida chick.”

Sam opened his mouth to argue, but promptly closed it. Instead, he tilted his head and cinched his mouth to the side. “True…”

Dean clapped Sam on the shoulder. “Wouldn’t give it to you any other way. C’mon - it’s down this street.”

By the time they reached the store, the streets were busy and the shop already had a few customers inside. The door chimed pleasantly when opened, and an older couple brushed past them as they entered.

Everything Wiccan, new age, or celestial was available in this store. For a moment, Sam forgot he was on a case, and began browsing. Surprisingly, despite the enormous display of incense and herbs, the air was clean. Dean found himself sniffing the air, frowning slightly as he tried to figure out why he couldn’t smell the vast array of stuff crammed into the store. He could only detect a hint of...something…

“It’s White Sage. The oil is cleansing, and brings a sense of calm.” A pretty young woman approached Dean, smiling at his confused look. She had red hair, left loose across her shoulders, and bright green eyes. Her clothes seemed to flow around her, draping gently towards the floor, her skirt swirling around her ankles as she walked. “It’s also a very clean scent, so if a customer wishes to smell any of our products, they aren’t overwhelmed by every other scent in the store.”

“Ah...very clever,” Dean said, a returning smile already on his face. He gestured at the other products, sidestepping two teenage girls giggling their way to the revolving display stand of pendants. “I was wondering why I couldn’t smell anything else.” He noticed Sam pretending to shop, while surreptitiously watching the other lady behind the counter.

The woman laughed, a throaty sound that made Dean just want to run his hands in her hair. “It’s not you, trust me. When Iris and I opened this shop, we were adamant about not having one of those stores that slams you in the face with perfumy crap. Each scent in our products has a meaning and purpose. How can you choose something if you can’t smell it?” She held out her hand. “My name is Fiona. My partner over there is Iris. Is there anything I can help you find?”

Dean shook her hand, giving Iris a polite wave when she looked over smiling. Partner? As in…”partner-partner”, or business partner? “I’m Dean, that’s my brother Sam. We’re passing through on our way to visit our folks, thought we’d stop for a day or two and get caught up on sleep.” Sam walked over, stopping just behind Dean, and giving Fiona a polite smile. Dean nodded at Sam. “He and my mom love this stuff, so we figured we’d find her a...a gift.”

His breath kind of hitched a little, but a quick nose rub knocked it into submission. He sniffed, noting that his nose started running. Good thing he couldn’t smell the oils and incense sticks. On top of this budding cold, he’d probably be a mess in front of this incredibly hot girl.

Fiona tucked some hair behind her ear. “Well! We sell only the highest quality merchandise.” She turned to Sam. “What do you think your mother would like?”

Sam shrugged his shoulders, giving Fiona a doe-eyed look. “Oh - she loves so many different things. Right now, she’s reading a lot about lunar cycles and auras.”

Fiona hooked a finger at him, leading them both to a display of pendants. The door chimed, and Dean glanced over his shoulder in time to spot what appeared to be a tourist bus unloading straight into the store. Fiona noticed as well. “Oh dear - a large group. Okay - these pendants represent different parts of the lunar cycle. They’re made of silver. We also have these aroma lamps she may like - each scent strengthens and embraces different auras. Feel free to look around - I need to tend to this group!”

As soon as she left, Dean’s breath definitely hitched, and he sneezed so hard, he bent at the waist, almost knocking over the pendant display. Iris called an absent “Bless you!” from across the store. Fumbling for a Kleenex in his pocket, Dean ignored Sam’s sympathetic look, and nodded at the necklaces as he blew his nose. “See anything?”

Sam sighed and examined the display. “Well, I find it interesting that a lunar cycle pendant, which we’d associate with…” He glanced around. “...werewolves...is made of silver. I dunno if it’s a warding, or what. Still, they’re accurate, and they say they’re hand carved.”

Dean grunted, and shoved the tissue back in his pocket. “Alright - pick something and let’s get going. This is a good time to go--h’ihh--round...round-back-Hp-TSHCHchyew! Fuck…” The tissue came back out and under his nose.

Nodding, Sam chose a pendant titled Libration (for the apparent wobbling of the moon...whatever the hell that means), and after paying, they snuck out while the tourists were still filing inside.

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As soon as the fresh air caressed his face, Dean felt a little better. Sam tossed him the pendant, which Dean caught with his non-tissue hand. “Here - early Christmas present.”

Dean snorted, and almost crammed it in a pocket, until he saw the quote carved on the back.

There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.


Shrugging, he removed the tag and pulled the chain over his head. It rested against his chest next to his amulet. He batted his eyelashes at Sam. “All my bling comes from you…”

Sam shoved him, almost making Dean stumble into a hay bale. “Shaddup. C’mon - let’s hit this alley and find the back of that store.”

Chuckling, Dean recovered his step and followed Sam down the alley.

Technically, it was an alley. But it certainly didn’t hold the stereotypical characteristics of an alley. This one had garden boxes and recycling bins all painted in fall colors lining the outer brick walls of the buildings on either side. The sun shone brightly, too, making them uncomfortable.

Dean muttered under his breath, “We’re up to no good, here, and the sun’s shining and the birds are singing. It’s all weird.”

Sam huddled further into his coat. “I hear ya. But at least no one’s gonna spot a flashlight when everything’s already lit up.”

They turned a corner, and found the rear entrance to the shop, which actually looked like the front entrance to an old house. Dean casually looked around while Sam picked the lock. They slipped inside and breathed a sigh of relief.

Dean checked out the room as he sniffled a little. They were in a foyer of sorts, with stairs leading up and a short hallway on their right inviting them into a living room. Their eyes met. Dean’s flickered up, while Sam’s flickered to the right. After a curt nod, they split up.

As soon as he hit the stairs, Dean’s eyes started itching. Nothing major, but enough to be seriously bothersome. He scrubbed at them, and grabbed another Kleenex from his pocket. The walls were lined with framed photos of the sky, both during the day and night. They were really nice black and white pictures, and Dean even stopped to admire them.

At the top, he entered the first bedroom on his left. The room was reminiscent of a college dorm, complete with several photo collages of smiling girls, pop-star posters and ticket stubs, encased in cheap plastic frames. Dean’s nostrils flared, “Hhhh-TSHCHuhh! Heh-tschch! Hhh-KNGTCH!

Stupid fucking cold had to kick in now?

He shook out a fresh tissue and blew his nose. “H’ihshchch!

Between sniffling, Dean noticed a pair of eyeglasses on the bedside table. Figuring this was Ida’s room, he snooped a little more, rummaging through drawers and rifling through the closet. There wasn’t anything exciting to be found. Even the Egyptian cat figurine on her dresser was plain and ordinary.

Dean coughed a little, and moved on to the next room.


Downstairs, Sam swiftly went through the living room and kitchen, both containing nothing that screamed Supernatural Things Live Here! The bathroom even looked normal, except for the extra door. Figuring it was a closet, Sam turned the knob, only to find it locked.

Who locks a towel closet in a bathroom?

Someone who’s hiding something in a not-towel closet, that’s who.

Sam picked the lock, and pulled out his flashlight. Cautiously, he opened the door, which thankfully didn’t have a classic squeaky hinge. He felt along the wall for a light switch, eyes blinking and watering a little as the light flooded the room.

The decor was definitely not new-age harvest festival. Rather, Egyptian hieroglyphs covered the walls, in a variety of sizes and colors. Sam swapped the flashlight for his phone, and clicked on the camera. He snapped pictures of the entire room, impressed with the collection of figurines and the detailed paintings. Once his phone was tucked back inside his pocket, Sam examined everything more closely.

Black cats adorned with gold necklaces and jewels were everywhere, some mingling with the Egyptian ankh. Against the far wall was an altar-like table, blanketed with a gold trimmed cloth. In the center, stood an imposing figurine of a graceful black cat, wearing gold hoop earrings and a gleaming gold pendant around its neck.

Truth be told, Sam’s cold took the edge off his thinking. He sluggishly put the pieces together, realizing, a little on the slow side, that canine was the wrong mammal family involved with this case. It took another few seconds to register that Dean had to get out of this house.


Once it all processed, Sam swore, and raced from the room.


In the third bedroom, Dean’s nose was a constant stream, and he had to breathe through his mouth. His eyes felt on fire, and he could barely see. Something told him this wasn’t the cold - and while that really wasn’t a major revelation, the gummy feeling in his brain made him feel like a genius for figuring it out.

He leaned against the doorframe, contemplating going downstairs to get Sam’s help. He held a fresh tissue under his nose as his breath hitched and the next inevitable fit began. “Hehh-ISHHH! Hhh-IHSCHCHuhh! EHhh-TCHSHhuh! Eh-TSCHYUuu!” He blew his nose again, thinking that this time it’d work. “Hhh’attschch! Hp’ETSCHHEW! Hh’HRSHCHH-uh!

Well...not so much.

The next thing Dean knew, Sam was at his side. “C’mon, Dean, we gotta get you out of here!”

Dean wasn’t about to argue...mostly because he wasn’t in a position to argue. Letting Sam guide him, they stumbled down the stairs and out the back door.


Dean had no idea how they made it back to their room without attracting attention. Or maybe they did attract attention - he really had no clue. Sam made him shower and change into clean clothes as soon as the door locked behind them. Once cleaned off, he lay in bed with a wet washcloth across his eyes.

“Take these,” Sam ordered, pressing pills into Dean’s hands. Dean didn’t know what they were, and he didn’t care. Down they went with a glass of water and a grunt of thanks.

Sam sat on his own bed, and ran his hands through his hair. He was pissed for not making the connection as soon as he walked into that room.

“I’b fide, Sab. Quit worryindg.” Dean didn’t have to see to know Sam was upset.

“When you’re speaking normally, I’ll quit worrying.”

“Shut up. This was you a week ago. God-Etschchew! What the fuck was id that house?”

Sam exhaled slowly, and pulled out his phone. “Cats. Or at least, cat-like creatures.”

“Cats?! How bady cats? I dever saw addy. Dot eved a litter box.”

“Yeah, well it wasn’t a matter of how many. More like, how big.”

Dean peeked at Sam from under the washcloth. “Combe agaid?”

Sam snorted and showed Dean the pictures he took in the secret room. Dean sat up a bit, squinting at the screen. “That Ida girl’s roob had a statue of that cat id it. But doe decklace--Hh’ITSCHH!” He flopped back against his pillow and replaced the washcloth.

Sam sighed and rubbed his eyes. “I need to do some research on this, but for sure, they worship cats and a cat goddess at the very least. I’m wondering if instead of werewolves, we’re dealing with werecats.”

Now Dean snorted. “Shaddup. That’s dumb. They aredd’t real.”

Sam opened his laptop and began clicking away. “Really? You’re gonna lay there and tell me that werewolves are totally real, but werecats are ridiculous? There’s lore on them, Dean, dating back to Egyptian times.”

“Thed why hasd’t Dad ever seed onde?”

Sam pinched the bridge of his nose. “Just because Dad hasn’t fought one, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.”

“Pfft. So...if...whoa...head’s fuzzy...if they are real, cad...cad I get one horddy with catdip?”

Sam had to laugh at that, partly because of the ludicrousness of the statement, and partly because he imagined Dean with a bowl of “catdip” at a bar with a pretty girl. The extra strength Benedryl was kicking in, and Dean was slowly losing consciousness. “Sleep it off, Dean, and we’ll talk when you can make some sense.”

Dean flapped a hand at Sam, jostling the washcloth. “Told you - ‘mb fide…” His head listed to the side, and he fell asleep.

While Dean snored on his bed, Sam researched on his, impatient for his brother to wake so he could share what he learned.

Eventually, Dean did wake, sniffling, but not sneezing and not so congested. “Shit, Sam, I feel like I got hit by a truck.” He nodded a thanks as Sam handed over some coffee he ordered from downstairs.

“Yeah, well, in a way, you were. The dander in that house must’ve been everywhere, and much more potent than regular cat dander.”

Dean took a generous sip, groaning as the hot liquid hit his sore throat. In a low, raspy voice, Dean asked, “Okay, so what’d you find out?”

Sam took a deep breath, and pulled out his notes. “Well, from the pictures I took and the list of stuff I saw, it looks like we’re dealing with a cult-like following of the Egyptian goddess Bastet. She often took the form of a cat, and is considered a protector. Sometimes she’s depicted as a domesticated cat and other times as a lioness.”

Dean set his mug on a table. “Still a fucking cat either way, Sam.”

Sam pointed at Dean with his pen. “True, that. Anyway, when you consider the possibility of werecats, or ailuranthropes,” Dean made a face. “and the symbolism of Bastet, I can see the scenario of Bastet protecting someone or something in town, and killing people she thought were a threat. It explains the weird claw marks on that woman’s purse - too big for a domestic animal, too dainty for a wild animal. Plus, the rodent bones all over the place could be warning signs so others don’t threaten whatever Bastet is protecting. The orderly presentation would be because we’re dealing with something that’s also human, and perhaps they wanted the bones to blend in with the decor - like what Aldridge said.”

Dean scoffed, “Wait a sec - are you saying we’re really dealing with an Egyptian goddess? Here? In Apple Harvest? This is where she lives? Really?”

Sam shrugged. “Most likely, no. I mean, it’s someone who worships Bastet, that’s for sure. Whether it’s really her or not…? I dunno. Still, it’s someone who values cats, and everything Bastet...hehhh...stood for.” He muffled a sneeze in the crook of his arm.

Dean stood slowly, testing his balance, before weaving toward the bathroom, one hand already unbuttoning his pants. “Lemme take a piss, then we can figure this out more over lunch.”

Sam stared at Dean incredulously. “Lunch? After that attack, you want to eat?”

Dean clicked the bathroom door shut, but called through it, “It’s meatloaf, Sam! Homemade meatloaf! That trumps killer cats any day.”


They sat in a corner of the dining room, finishing their meal and pondering what to do next.

Sam put his napkin on the table. “Problem is, there’s not a whole lot of lore on werecats. What there is, is mostly from teenagers who want to be werecats or info on how to play one as a character on Dungeons and Dragons. When I researched how to kill them, the intel was all over the damn place. Silver bullets for sure - but hey, iron or bronze is okay, too. They have nine lives, but can’t recover from beheading. You can burn or drown them, but maybe they’ll come back to life. Their abilities are also ranging from telepathic to super strength and speed. It’s crazy.”

“What about the lunar cycle? You said it wasn’t the right time.”

“Apparently, that may not really matter with werecats. The lore isn’t super clear on that.”

Sam continued to rattle on about the moon’s effects on werecats versus werewolves. During the whole speech, he watched his brother closely through slightly narrowed eyes as Dean idly moved the remnants of dessert across his plate. It’s not that Dean wasn’t listening. He totally was.

But he was also rubbing his eyes. And sniffling.

How did Sam miss it before? This isn’t a cold at all - it’s one hundred percent allergy, but they’re not at the shop, so…

Dean raised a wrist to his nose, and pressed a little, nodding at Sam’s words and offering the appropriate grunt of acknowledgement now and then. Sam kept talking about werecats and various possibilities for dealing with them, and Dean continued to battle with his sinuses.

Finally, the scale tipped. Dean dropped his fork onto the table and let the ragged breathing take over. Sam sat up straight, and began looking around the room for the two shop owners. If Dean’s having a reaction here, they have to be close by.


While Sam nonchalantly swiveled in his chair, Dean got his napkin ready just as his mouth fell open and his eyelids fluttered. “Hhhh’Hp-TSHCHCH! Hh’ITSCHCH-uh! HRSCHCH’Uuu!

But Iris and Fiona were nowhere to be found. Confused, Sam turned back to the table, a frown on his face, and muttered, “Bless you,” almost as an afterthought. He chewed on the inside of his cheek.

Dean wiped at his eyes and scowled at Sam. “This blows. Why do I have to have a cold and be allergic to the monster? Huh? That sounds more like your gig.”

Sam ignored the whining, and scooted his chair towards to the table. Leaning close, Sam asked, “Dean - you didn’t feel bad until we got here, right? I mean, the cold symptoms?”

Dean screwed up his face and set his napkin back on the table. “Well, yeah. I was fine before your cooties got me. Why?”

Sam shook his head and continued. “When exactly did you start feeling bad? And what did you feel?”

Dean rolled his eyes. “What is this, Dr. Quinn? I caught your cold. You should know how I felt.”

Sam closed his eyes for a moment, and gave Dean a look like he was trying to be patient with the dumb kid in class. “Dean. I don’t think you ever caught my cold. I think you’ve had allergic reactions this whole time.”

Dean’s eyebrows shot up, and Sam glanced around before pushing his chair back and motioning for Dean to follow. “Come on. We need to talk about this more.”


Back in the privacy of their room, Sam began pacing excitedly while Dean began blowing his nose.

“So tell me exactly how you’ve been feeling, and when.”

Dean shook his head and tossed the used tissue into the garbage. “This is embarrassing.”


Dean flapped a hand at him. “I know, I know. Just...shut up. Okay. So I sneezed when we first got here after sniffing the cider.”

Sam waved him off. “But I did, too. That stuff was strong.”

“Yeah, but you were already sensitive,” he snickered. Sam rolled his eyes. “I wasn’t, and I sneezed a double over cider spice? Please. Okay, during dinner, my nose was itching and my eyes were a little watery. In Aldridge’s office, it was a little worse.” He plucked another tissue from the box and rubbed his nose.

Sam nodded. “I noticed that.”

“Whatever. It bugged me the whole time we were there.”

The pacing continued, with Sam finger pointing in the air as if the pieces were all coming together for him. “What about when you woke up this morning? Or went outside?”

Dean shrugged. “I felt fine. Better than fine, actually, I felt great. Normal. Nothing was wrong, no symptoms at all.”

Sam stopped and faced him. “So back here, where it’s only been you and I, you were fine. After that...you were outside, right? Walking around in fresh air? So naturally, there was nothing in the air to trigger a reaction.”

Dean snapped his fingers. “Until I found those bones. I did sneeze then. Maybe there was something on the decorations?”

Sam’s head tilted from side to side as he considered that. “Probably. And then in the shop, you sneezed, right?” Dean nodded. “And of course, you lost it in the apartment. Dean, man, you’re like a walking EMF reader for werecats. You can lead us to them.”

Dean grimaced and splayed his hands in front of him. “Yeah, but think about this. If I’ve had reactions in multiple places, that means - “

“There’s more than one,” they finished in unison.

The room fell silent for a minute as they contemplated that. “Or, it’s in more than one location?” Sam offered.

Dean shook his head. “No - I mean, yeah I react when cat shit is around, but it’s nothing like when the cat itself is right there. I’m thinking more than one, and also more than one location.”

They sat again. Dean sniffed, toyed with the tissue in his hand, then looked up at Sam. “So, what, I parade around town smelling people, and when one of them makes me sneeze, we shoot them with silver bullets?”

Sam barked a laugh and plopped on his bed. “Riiiiight. No...I do think we need to figure out who is what, and where they are. So in a way, yeah, we need to parade you around town and have you smell people. Wait for them to trigger your allergies, then we’ll know who we’re dealing with. Shoot them right there?” He shrugged. “Probably not. The fact that I’m getting over a cold is a perfect cover story for any symptoms you’ll have - they’ll just think you’re catching it...like we did.”

Dean pulled at his chin, then dropped his hand to his lap. “This is nuts. We’re focusing on the shop owners, right? Cuz that’s where the all the worship crap is. Why didn’t I really lose it in their shop? They were both right there.”

Shrugging, Sam rose and began stuffing tissues in his pockets along with a gun. “I dunno. But for sure, that’s one place we need to go back to.”

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Pockets full of Kleenex, weapons, and more Kleenex, the brothers tried to appear casual while strolling through the lobby. Sam let himself sniffle, not fighting his lingering cold symptoms so it was clear he’d been sick. They definitely didn’t want to give away their detection system...who was trying extremely hard to control the blush on his neck and cheeks as he sauntered close to people, sniffing the air and testing whether his nose itched or not.

After the third person Dean got a little too close to, Sam elbowed him in the ribs. “Cut it out! You look like you’re smelling them,” he hissed.

Dean huffed, and whispered gratingly at Sam, “How else am I gonna know? I don’t know how close I have to be!”

“Do you have to be on top of a cat to sneeze?” Sam paused to smile politely at a couple ooh-ing over a pumpkin display. “Just settle down and take deep breaths. If one’s here, you’ll know.”

They stood near the front desk, while Sam pretended to sift through a handful of tissues. Dean pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head. “I feel stupid.”

Without looking up, Sam sighed. “I know you do.”

“No, really. I don’t even think this’ll work. Walking around trying to...to smell...hiihhh...if some...someone...HHhhhh...sh-shit...Sab….I….HHHhhhiiiihhhh…” Dean smacked Sam repeatedly on the arm.

Sam perked up as Dean’s hand went to his face, hovering under his nose. He was trying to look around, but his head kept bobbing with every ragged inhale. That left Sam to figure out who was causing the reaction. A scan of the lobby revealed no one nearby. Puzzled, Sam tugged on Dean’s arm. “C’mon...walk a little.”

Dean’s eyes widened and watered. “What?! I---I have...to...Hhhhhhh… *sniff* Oh...wait...it… *sniff* Okaaaay…” He vigorously rubbed his nose, blinking repeatedly.

Sam frowned at him. “Lost it?”

Nodding, Dean continued to sniffle, and scrambled for Kleenex. “Yeah...fuck...but...no...gahHhhehhhh-- *sniff* it’s right there…but...”

Nodding, Sam grabbed Dean’s sleeve. “Then move...and see if you can pick it up again!”

Dean let himself be dragged through the lobby, the nagging itch not enough to launch an all out fit. Nothing pushed him over the edge, and he was beginning to wish for anything to make him sneeze and end the torture. He rubbed his nose again, only to have Sam swat his hand away.

He shot a glare at Sam, who raised his hands innocently. “Don’t make it go away!”

Dean threw his hands in the air, exasperated, and turned away, only to twist back around as his head snapped forward. “HHeh’ETSCHCHYUUuu!

“Oh goodness! Bless you!!”

Both boys turned and saw George Aldridge, Karen, and another friendly looking woman walking over. Sam waved a hand and tentatively smiled, keeping one eye on his brother, and the other on the approaching people.

Dean would have waved, but he was gearing up for another major sneeze. He inhaled in staccato bursts, his head tipping back, and his eyes giving Sam an almost pleading look. “Hhhhhh’iihhhh--HRSHSCHCH-uh! Hiiiihhhh-KISHHHNT! HNGHXT!

Karen clucked her tongue. “Caught Sam’s cold, huh? You poor thing. Helen - you think Bill’s got any more of that chicken stock? Maybe he can whip up a batch of soup.”

Helen tapped her cheek. “I’m sure he has something. I’ll go check!” She turned and walked towards the kitchen, as Dean sorted out his tissue situation and blew his nose.

George gave them a look of sympathy. “I’m sorry, boys, I didn’t know you were under the weather!”

Dean waved a hand at him, in an Ehhhh, it’s fine way, and blew his nose.

Sam piped up, “Oh, it’s not a big deal, George. We can still work.”

George looked around conspiratorily, and leaned close. “Find anything yet?”

Dean looked at him over the tissue that covered his face. “Workin’ on it…,” he sniffled, the tissue somewhat muffling his voice.

George beamed at them, and clapped Sam on the shoulder. “Thanks, boys. Let us know if you need anything!” And with that, he walked off.

Dean tucked the used tissue in his pocket, and blearily looked at Sam, who was gazing toward the kitchen. “You hungry already?”

Sam shook his head, and asked Karen, “That was George’s wife, right?”

Karen turned to follow his gaze. “Who, Helen? Yes. Lovely woman - very devoted to George and this town.” She put her glasses on and eyed Dean. “She’ll get you some soup that’ll make you feel right as rain!”

Dean sniffled again, and slumped a little, trying to look the part of the newly sick. “Thangks, Kared.”

The glasses came off and she smiled. “Of course. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a messy room I need to get cleaned!” She wandered off, leaving the brothers alone.

His eyes still on the kitchen, Sam murmured, “You sneezed in George’s office when you touched Helen’s knitting, didn’t you?”

Dean wiped his eyes and glanced at the kitchen, straightening up now that he didn’t need to look pathetic. “Yeah, yeah I did. And I don’t need to sneeze right now.”

Sam sighed, dragging his eyes from the kitchen to Dean. “And she’s loyal, and devoted.”

Dean pressed his lips into a thin line. “Well, that’s one.” He tapped his nose. “And we know this thing works. Time to find the others.”


They didn’t talk on their way to the new age shop, but they were both thinking the same things. What would they do once they confirmed who was a werecat in town, especially if one of the creatures was George’s wife? How many people in this town were actually supernatural creatures?

When they reached the shop, they both paused at the door, sharing a look of determination tinged with apprehension. Then Dean took a deep breath, shrugged his eyebrows, and opened the door.

The shop was busy, but Dean spotted Fiona’s red hair instantly. She caught his eye and smiled, which he returned.

“Let’s find Iris first,” Sam murmured into Dean’s ear, while pretending to read the label on a package of soap.

Nodding, Dean strolled over to where Iris was helping a customer. She looked up as he approached and nodded a hello before continuing to explain the mystical properties of some rocks from New Guinea. Dean sniffed, and stood nearby, with Sam watching closely.

But outside of a general mild tickle, he had nothing. Their eyes met, and Dean imperceptibly shook his head no. Sam’s eyes flickered to Fiona, and Dean moved to check out the incense lamps near her.

As soon as Dean got within a few feet, he felt the tickle grow stronger, and his eyes began to water. These women didn’t know the cover story of Dean catching Sam’s cold, so they may actually think he’s having an allergic reaction. Before the itching got out of control, Dean quickly walked away, sniffling and pawing at his nose.

Sam figured out why Dean moved, and also noticed that Dean was going to start sneezing no matter what. He picked up the nearest product, which happened to be some scented oil, and strode to Dean’s side. “Hey - do you think Mom’ll like this?” He opened the bottle and shoved it under Dean’s nose.

Dean almost batted his hand away, but recognized the subterfuge and took a deep sniff. “Um...maybe? It’s not...not tha...that...heh...oh hey...hiiiihhhhh...hiiihhihhhihh…” He motioned for Sam to move the oil away. “I think...it’s making me...have….have to...hiiihhhh’HETSHCHCHEWW!

Sam’s eyes widened in pretend shock as he quickly recapped the oil. “Whoa! Bless you! I guess not that one, huh?”

Dean shook his head, trying to give Sam a No Shit look, but his eyes kept fluttering closed as his breathing kept hitching. “H’TSCHUUu! ITSCHCHYuu! K’ISHHSH!” Dean stood there, bent at the waist, both hands covering his face, thinking that if Fiona goes monster on him, he’s not gonna kill her with a tissue.

Iris walked over, sympathy on her face. She held out a white cloth. “Here - this has white sage oil on it - the same oil that controls the airborne particles in the shop. It will help with your allergy to Egyptian Sandalwood.”

Dean glanced at Sam before taking the cloth, which, up close, looked like one of those handkerchiefs a grandfather would carry. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to smell it, but the itching was killing him, and the whole Sniff-Out-The-Werecat plan, was going out the window. He took a tentative whiff, and found no additional irritation, so he took a slightly deeper one.

Sam watched with some apprehension that he tried to mask. On one hand, he didn’t want Dean suffering. On the other hand, if this White Sage stuff really worked, then Dean was neutralizing their only detection system. “Hey...um...not too much, huh?”

Dean’s second No Shit look made Sam sheepishly roll his eyes real quick. Iris rested a hand on Sam’s arm. “Don’t worry - it’s all natural, nothing will harm your brother. I promise.” She smiled, a genuine, assuring smile, that had Sam’s heart beating a little faster than normal. An extra squeeze made his heart skip a beat, and the smile deepened as she turned and sauntered away.

A hard smack on his other arm startled him, and he turned to a very amused Dean who pressed a fresh wad of Kleenex to his face. Sam huffed, swallowed hard, and looked around for the shop owners. They were both with customers.

“Okay, so now what?” Sam asked in a low voice, running his hands through his hair. “Fiona, yes, Iris, not so much.”

Dean shoved the Kleenex in his pocket. “Grab some of that Sage oil and let’s get back to the room.”

As Iris rang up their sale, she chattered politely. “Your mother will love this oil, especially since the pendant is apparently not going to her.” She nodded with a knowing smile at the charm around Dean’s neck.

Dean chuckled. “Yeah, well I liked it so much that we...uhhh...hehh...we had to come back and choose some...something else for her.” He blinked as his eyes watered and his nose began to itch. Without turning around, he just knew Fiona was behind him. He pressed a knuckle under his nose and swallowed hard. There was no Egyptian Sandalwood around to blame this time, so he desperately tried not to sneeze.

He still jumped when she spoke, her voice alarmingly close. “That particular charm is very special. If it resonates with you, then you absolutely should keep it.” He could feel Sam tense, just as the itching prompted him to apply more pressure coupled with a furtive rub or two.

Not trusting himself to speak, Dean just nodded, sniffled, and gestured at Sam to get the bag already and get him out of there.

Iris leaned across the counter to hand Sam his change. Her hand lingered on his longer than necessary, catching him off-guard. His breath caught and he felt a blush creep up his neck and into his cheeks.

Fiona slid right behind Dean, who half turned so he could sort-of see her through watery, itchy eyes. His breathing was beginning to hitch raggedly, despite his best efforts to quell the reaction. She reached out with her hand, and wiped away one tear that was escaping down his cheek. “You poor thing,” she purred. “Sandalwood can be very strong.” She beguilingly shook out her hair, and the itching just exploded in Dean’s nose.

Unable to contain himself any longer, he took a shaky step backwards, and let loose. “TSCHCH! ITSHCHCH! ESCHHUu! ETSCHHEW! Hih--Hp’TsCHCHYuu! HETSCHHIYEW! HRSCHHH’uh!

Fiona made little guttural noises in the back of her throat, and held the white handkerchief to Dean’s face with one hand, while running her fingers through his hair with the other. Sam felt the hairs stand on the back of his head, but he was still holding Iris’ hand, locked by her gaze and smile and lips…

Not caring what was on the cloth, Dean clutched it to his face, and continued to sneeze into it. After a few more, he started to settle down, taking deep breaths, noting that Fiona’s hand was trapped between his and the cloth. In a low, husky voice, she murmured, “That’s it, take deep breaths, Dean. The sage will help.” His eyes fluttered closed from the tears and the itching and Ohmygod her hands scritching the base of his neck with rhythmic, soothing strokes.

A few heartbeats later, Dean came to his senses, taking stock of the current situation.

A werecat was helping him sneeze out his allergic reaction to her while simultaneously seducing him through petting.

He took a couple more steps backwards, gently extracting her hand and the cloth from his face and neck. He stammered, “Wow...I’b...so sorry...the saddlewood bust still be…” He made circling motions in the air around his nose. “Bust still be id there…” He huffed a laugh, reached around Fiona and lightly punched Sam on the arm, who seemed to be in some sort of trance.

“Sabby! Ugh...let’s...let’s leave the dice ladies alode. We should get going.”

Fiona stepped back, and just as she did, Iris tilted her head to the side and removed her hand from Sam’s, effectively breaking whatever spell she had on him. He blinked and shook his head. “Um...yeah...yeah, absolutely. Thanks for your help…”

Fiona chuckled, motioning for the next customer to go to the register. “Any time, boys. I hope your mother likes the oil.” She gave Dean one last knowing glance. “You should stay clear of that Sandalwood. If you’re reacting this badly even with the Sage oil...well. Without it, it’d be so much worse.” One last flick of her hair over her shoulder, and she began a conversation with an elderly couple examining a pile of star charts.

Iris had already moved on to the next customers in line, barely giving Sam a glance as he grabbed Dean by the arm and ushered them both out of the store.


“What the fuck was that?!” Dean grumbled as they practically stomped back to the hotel.

“We were marked, that’s what,” Sam mumbled, looking both ways before crossing the street.

Dean blew his nose once again, and neatly tossed the tissue into a corner garbage can. “I doe that, Sab, I just beant...fuck...I duddo what I beant.” He sniffled. “I feel dirty, like I was just--”

“--treated like a cat toy, Dean. That’s what that was. They were playing with us like toys.” Sam scowled.

Dean shuddered. “I thought I’d like it bore, but it sucked.” He paused on the sidewalk and sneezed a double. “Oh by God that was awful.”

Sam’s eyes flickered to Dean before pointing at the drug store. “C’mon...let’s get you more Benedryl.”

Dean shook his head. “Find sobething dot drowsy. Deed by head clear so we can make a plan.”

The congestion was clearing now that they were out of the shop, making his speech more understandable. They went straight to the medicine aisle, scanning the boxes for non-drowsy allergy medication.

“There’s, like, ten different brands. Which one do you want?” Sam asked.

Dean scrubbed at his eyes. “I don’t care, Sab. Just pick one.”

Sam huffed. “Yeah, but I don’t want to get the wrong one and have you conk out on me by accident. Which ones have you tried?” He picked up one box and examined it.

Dean pulled a fresh tissue from his pocket and wiped his nose. “The red box. Maybe. Just...just pick...any...Heh’tschhch! *sniff* addyode just get it--Hhhh...whatthefuck… Hhhhhiiiihhhh-Etschchhhew!”

“Bless you! Can I help you find something?”

Both boys turned and faced a young woman, with long black hair and bright blue eyes, wearing a white coat. Dean tried to answer, but was too busy sneezing. Sam looked from her to Dean and back again. The light bulb clicked.

Time to leave!

“No! No, we’re all good.” He held up the box in his hand. “Just need to buy this one!” He forced a smile on his face, while Dean continued to pitch forward, sneezing endlessly into the useless tissue.

The pharmacist smiled. “Good choice. C’mon up front, and I’ll ring you up.” She turned and walked ahead of them towards the register.

Sam scrambled in his pocket for more Kleenex as they moved. Before he could turn over his last tissue, he noticed that Dean had Iris’ handkerchief pressed to his face. The sneezing slowed, and he was able to take a decent breath.

Sam quickly paid, and pulled Dean out of the store. Once outside, the sneezing stopped altogether, and Dean was left panting. “Hold up...just...waitasec…” He leaned against a light post breathing heavily through his mouth, bending a little at the waist. He squinted up at Sam. “They deed to die. All of theb. I cad’t eved go to a store here.”

Nodding absently, Sam turned every which way in an effort to watch everyone at the same time. “I know. Now we’re up to four. No more detours. Back to the room, get you breathing again, and make a plan for what to do.”

Dean cleared his throat, nodded weakly, and staggered after Sam.

They entered the hotel lobby incredibly anxious and eager to get to their room. They were just at the elevator when Karen stopped them. “Oh, there you are! Mr. Aldridge wants to see you!”

Dean thunked his head against Sam’s chest. Sam opened his mouth, ready to give any excuse necessary to avoid that meeting, but Karen cut him off. “I know you’re both still feeling poorly, so I had the kitchen make some nice soup. He said he’d only need a minute, then you can go rest.” She smiled and put on her glasses. Frowning at Dean, she clucked, “Oh my, you look a fright! I think you need some brandied cider, too. Sleep that cold right off!” She pointed to George’s office as she bustled to the kitchen. “He’s right in there. I’ll bring you those drinks!”

“Saaaaaaab…” Dean groaned.

Sam sighed heavily and patted the top of Dean’s head. “Let’s get this over with. You can take the pills with the brandy. That’ll taste good, right?”

Dean snorted and stood, motioning with his hands for the box. “This case’d be a lot easier if the hot chicks weren’t the bad guys.”


They entered the office, Sam already explaining that they couldn’t stay long. “George - we really need to get back to...our...room…”

Behind his desk sat Helen - Mrs. Aldridge. She smiled at them, much like a lion would smile at its prey before pouncing. “Hello, boys. Why don’t you close the door, hmm? We weren’t properly introduced earlier, and I wanted to rectify that oversight.”

Dean clicked the door shut, and both brothers stood defensively, ready for any possible attack.

Helen rolled her eyes. “I’m not going to hurt you, boys. Come sit down.”

They didn’t move.

Well, Dean moved, but it was to pitch forward and cover his nose and mouth. “HGXNGT!

“Dean - use the Sage oil Iris sold you. You’ll need it. I don’t feel like blessing you every three seconds.”

Sam fumbled for the oil in his pocket, dabbing some on the cloth Dean held out with a shaky hand. He held it up to his nose right after sneezing a double into the crook of his arm. Immediately, the itching softened, and his breathing slowed.

“There, that’s better, isn’t it? Now sit down. It seems that we need to have a chat.”

Sam and Dean exchanged a look. Sam shrugged, Dean rolled his eyes, and they both sat, without saying a word.

Helen leaned forward, resting her head on her hands. “What’s the matter, boys? You’re so quiet. Cat got your tongue?” She giggled at her own joke, then quickly stopped when she saw that they weren’t laughing. She sighed. “Alright, not in the mood for humor, I see.”

“Who are you?” Sam finally asked.

Helen raised her eyebrows. “Not even going to ask what I am? How polite you are.” She smiled. “My real name is Kemat, first priestess of Bastet.”

From behind the cloth, Dean asked with a slightly muffled voice, “So you’re not Bastet herself?”

Kemat threw her head back and laughed. “Bastet living here? In Apple Harvest? Really?”

Dean looked at Sam. Told you so!

Pressing his lips together, Sam shook his head. “What are you doing here?”

Kemat regained her composure and leaned back in her chair, stretching lazily. “I live here with George. We’re married, and I’m very happy.”

Sam shifted in his seat, a retort on his lips, when she cut him off. “I’m telling the truth, boys. In this life, I’m Helen Aldridge, wife to George and patronage of this town. In my true form, I’m Kemat, an ancient priestess, who found a place of refuge for those who are trapped between worlds.”

“You mean ailuranthropes?” Sam asked.

Kemat scrunched up her face and rolled her eyes. “That’s such a stupid term..so clinical. You can just use werecats, Sam. It’s easier. But yes, that’s what I mean. I’ve built a nice home for them - a place they can live peacefully and without worry of being hunted.”

Dean dropped the hand holding the cloth. “Until someone decided to eat a nice young couple.”

Kemat grimaced and rubbed her temples. “Yes...let me explain that one. The couple were actually werewolves, here to investigate our town. They weren’t making trouble, just looking around at how we lived. Ida...she was a little misguided, and provoked them. In the end, there was a skirmish, and the couple were killed.” She sighed. “She thought she was doing the right thing, but challenging my rules was not the right thing.”

“So you handled Ida, huh?” Sam asked, pushing Dean’s hand with the handkerchief back up to his face, as his breathing began hitching again.

Kemat nodded gravely. “I did. I haven’t had to discipline like that in over a thousand years, but it was necessary. Let me make this clear - I love this life. I love what’s been built here. I won’t let anything jeopardize it.” She stared at each brother. “Anything.”

Dean matched her stare, “Is that su-supposed to be...a...a...heh...hiiiiihhhhh…” He blinked rapidly and brought the cloth to his face. “Hh’ishhhyuu! A threat?”

Kemat smiled, but all traces of amusement were gone. “Sort of? I’m trying to explain to you hunters, that this is a peaceful place. Ida was new, and obviously did not belong here. Fiona and Iris tried very hard to make her understand our ways.”

Sam questioned, “What’s the deal with Iris? Obviously Fiona is a werecat. But Iris…”

“Is her familiar. She is not a werecat, but rather, a human with a strong affinity for cats. She is rare among your kind, and most valued by mine for her special...talents.” She tilted her head at Dean. “She won’t trigger your allergy, like Fiona or I do.”

The brothers exchanged a look. “So you knew about that, huh?” Sam asked wryly.

Kemat shrugged. “I heard you were sick,” she said to Sam, “but we can sense when someone doesn’t...appreciate our company.”

“I appreciate your company just fine. Just can’t breathe in it.” Dean smirked.

Kemat tipped her head at him, and rose to pour each of them a shot of whiskey.

“So...what now?” Sam shook his head at the offered glass, but Dean downed his.

Kemat walked around the desk, and sat on the edge. Sam swore she looked a lot younger, and chalked it up to her agile yet languid movements. “That’s up to you boys.” She swirled her drink in its glass and watched them over the rim. She gestured at Dean with the glass. “You’re a smidge compromised in this case, my dear. Not going to be much help in a fight, I’m afraid.”

Dean tried to protest, but Kemat simply shook her head. “Don’t. I have a lot sage oil in this room right now, as a peace offering, and still you need that cloth.” She slid off the desk, and took a step towards him. “But if I choose, as Fiona did earlier, I can override its effects, and render you helpless.”

Dean swallowed hard, and shifted in his seat, rubbing his nose. Sam sat up straight. “Hold on…”

Kemat waved him off. “I’m only stating the truth. You know that. Now, I’m asking you to leave us be. We aren’t looking for trouble. The incident a few weeks ago was...unfortunate. And I’m not saying other incidents won’t occur. But if they do, it isn’t because of us.”

Sam licked his lips, not sure what to say. He was always more inclined to give people (creatures, whatever) a chance. Setting that aside, though, this was a different situation. He glanced over at Dean, who was struggling to maintain control as Kemat’s proximity messed with him. They didn’t know who was a werecat in this town, and there was no way they could force everyone to get sniffed by Dean and politely wait in a corner to die if they made him sneeze.

Plus, Kemat was obviously not an ordinary werecat. There was no time to research how to kill the first priestess of an Egyptian goddess, who probably wouldn’t take that lightly, giving them a whole other problem to deal with.

Dean clamped his lips together, but still managed to sneeze through the frail barrier. “K’NXGHT! K’ISHSHH! Uh…heh...HETSCHCH!

Kemat went back to swirling her drink, watching the amber liquid spin round and round, seemingly oblivious to Dean’s discomfort.

Deciding that this battle was lost, Sam reached for his drink and tossed it back. “What about George? Does he know?”

Kemat smiled ruefully. “Would he have called you if he did? I tried to convince him that everything would be okay, but he’s such a worry-wart. This whole thing would’ve blown over if he didn’t call.” She sighed dramatically, swallowed her drink, and went back to her chair. “But, that’s George. He cares a great deal for this place, and I know he was only trying to protect it.” She met Sam’s gaze. “As I am.”

Dean was in no way following the conversation. He leaned forward, elbows on knees, and began sneezing freely onto the floor.

Sam nodded. “Okay. We’ll leave you alone. Just...let him get some sleep and we’ll leave in the morning.”

Kemat clapped her hands together. “Oh, you can stay as long as you like, boys. Eat a delicious dinner, recover, enjoy yourselves. Just no hunting.” Her smile hardened. “Please.”

Sam put his glass down, and grimly nodded in return. Once again, he tugged on Dean’s sleeve and pulled him to his feet. Leading him to the door, Dean choked out, “What’re you--HXGNGHT!--what? Wait...”

“Just c’mon, Dean. Time for those pills…”


The next morning, they woke on their own, no alarms. Each knew the other was awake, but still they lay there, enjoying the silence.

Dean’s sneezing abated roughly an hour after leaving Kemat’s presence. Sam’s cold had taken a backseat for the most part since he’d been pushing himself with the case.

So it was quiet.

Until Dean rustled his sheets and sighed. “We’re really letting them go?”

Sam ground his teeth together. They went over this three times already because Dean was not quite able to accept how easily he was made helpless. “Yes, Dean, we really are.”

Dean cleared his throat and sighed again. “Fine. Let’s get going, then. I want a lot distance between myself and this town before lunch.”

They packed, and made their way downstairs. Karen smiled at them as they crossed the lobby. Dean nudged Sam. At least she isn’t one of them.

“Checking out, huh? I hope you both feel better, and that you come back soon!”

Dean smiled back through a cough. “Thanks for everything, Karen. Really.” Then he lied. “Hope to see you soon!”

Once they were safe in the Impala, Dean started the engine, eyeing Sam as he arranged himself in the passenger seat. “All set there?”

Sam huffed back. “Yeah, I think so. You?”

“Yeah. I just--HETSCHIYUUuu! TSCHCHHHh-uhh!

Dean froze. Sam’s eyes widened, and he looked around. Nothing catlike was present. He looked at Dean who was gearing up for one more, his voice rising in pitch with each inhale. “Hhhhh----hih---hehhhh--sh-shit--Hhh’TSCHYUUUuuu!” He followed this sneeze with a thick cough.

Sam’s eyes narrowed and an evil grin spread across his face.

Dean fished a tissue out of the box on the seat and blew his nose, eyes shooting daggers at Sam from over the top of the Kleenex. “Shut up.”

Sam laughed. “Want some of that Dayquil now?”

Dean gave Sam a scathing look. “Sam. I swear to God. Shut. HETSCHCH! *sniff* Up.”

Tires squealing, the Impala left Apple Harvest in a cloud of dust.


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(just gonna squeeze in here) uhoh.gif

Dear Lord...... twitchsmile.gif

You have left me speechless. Just....this is just......brilliant. Absolutely amazing, well done.

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Ohh soo awesome! I had my fingers crossed for a new story from you, and I got my wish!!w00t.gif Absolutely delicious!

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This was so awesome. Great story excellent scenario and fabulous sneezes. Really loved this. Although truth be told I love everything you have posted.

This was just fantastic.

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!!!!!! AAAAHHHH, I cannot believe my good fortune that I got YOU for my SS! OMG I'm so excited for this! So far I have read the first section, and this is just INCREDIBLE so far smile.pngsmile.png I apologize that I can't properly comment just now, but I promise I will do so just as soon as I am able, and OMG I am just seriously so excited right now! Thank you, thank you, THANK you so much for this!!!!!!!

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<<Explodes and melts into a puddle of yummy, sneezy-Dean goodness>>

Holy crap, that...was freaking epic. Where do I even begin with this?

Ok, first- this case fic was so, so cool! And wow, what an awesome premise. So clever, and so wonderfully conducive to a sneezy, allergy-ridden Dean smile.png Everything and everyone in this was so wonderfully detailed and fleshed out. The banter was fantastic, and there were so many random funny moments intermixed through the whole thing. And AAHHH, you included, like, ALL of my favorite things, some of them many times over....guh, I can't even. Thank you so, SO much, you are the best!!

Ok- list of things! I apologize that this will be very long, but there is so much awesomeness packed into this story, I just can't help it! Here we go:

-First off, it is set in season 1, my favorite. smile.png And I love how we start out with Sam on the tail end of a cold, all sniffly and grumpy, and not quite 100% yet. And then we get the occasional, random Sammy sneezes intermixed throughout the whole story. Whee!

-I loved all the lovely descriptiveness of the town, and the Inn, and the fall decor, and it was so cute how Dean was getting all excited by everything. I can just see that happening, and I love it when Dean's inner dork comes out over random things like that smile.png

-OMG, The part with the cider...So funny! Dean sneezing, but managing to save the cider, and then Sam sneezing and spilling it all over himself -!! And then Karen making the boys a special batch of cider that wouldn't make them sneeze- g'awwwww!

I loved the entire initial exchange with George, with Dean all sniffly and irritated, and the afghan making him sneeze (eee!) and how he had to keep rubbing his nose because it was itching so bad, and the whole What the fuck is up with my face thing, and mmm, that scene was very nice indeed smile.png

-The part where Dean starts sneezing when he comes across the weird cat display on the street, then he gets all pissed off at the fake cat, thinking he's allergic to it- OMG that was the best! lmao

- this hilarious little bit:

Hey Sammy - they have belly dancer wraps. Think they’ll have your size?

tee hee smile.png

-omg, THIS:

He leaned against the doorframe, contemplating going downstairs to get Sam’s help. He held a fresh tissue under his nose as his breath hitched and the next inevitable fit began. “Hehh-ISHHH! Hhh-IHSCHCHuhh! EHhh-TCHSHhuh! Eh-TSCHYUuu!” He blew his nose again, thinking that this time it’d work. “Hhh’attschch! Hp’ETSCHHEW! Hh’HRSHCHH-uh"

guh. Then Sam finding the cat-worshiping altar in the house and gradually figuring out what was going on and coming to Dean's rescue. smile.png Then taking him back to the hotel and taking care of him in the aftermath.

-This is just the best line ever:

Pfft. So...if...whoa...head’s fuzzy...if they are real, cad...cad I get one horddy with catdip?

-OMG, the part where they realize they were dealing with werecats - !!! Dude, that is like, the best freaking thing ever! Ingenious! And I loved how you explored the history and lore with it all. And just when I thought it couldn't get any better.....

-Dean as the human EMF meter. What?! OMG I almost died. And the whole exchange where Sam and Dean were discussing all of Dean's reactions and analyzing them, Sam trying to figure out why Dean was scratching and sneezing his way through lunch, Sam stocking his pockets with Kleenex before they head out to sniff out werecats, Dean wandering around sniffing at people on the street, and being all awkward and embarrassed about it...Um, yeah. So, so good.

-OMG, this line:

After the third person Dean got a little too close to, Sam elbowed him in the ribs. “Cut it out! You look like you’re smelling them,” he hissed.

I busted out laughing at this. Good thing I was alone while reading this, cuz I did that a lot. And squealed. A lot.

-Ok, I'm about to quote a big chunk, don't hate me, but the whole section is so epic I just have to do it:

“No, really. I don’t even think this’ll work. Walking around trying to...to smell...hiihhh...if some...someone...HHhhhh...sh-shit...Sab….I….HHHhhhiiiihhhh…” Dean smacked Sam repeatedly on the arm.

Sam perked up as Dean’s hand went to his face, hovering under his nose. He was trying to look around, but his head kept bobbing with every ragged inhale. That left Sam to figure out who was causing the reaction. A scan of the lobby revealed no one nearby. Puzzled, Sam tugged on Dean’s arm. “C’mon...walk a little.”

Dean’s eyes widened and watered. “What?! I---I have...to...Hhhhhhh…*sniff* Oh...wait...it… *sniff* Okaaaay…” He vigorously rubbed his nose, blinking repeatedly.

Sam frowned at him. “Lost it?”

Nodding, Dean continued to sniffle, and scrambled for Kleenex. “Yeah...fuck...but...no...gahHhhehhhh-- *sniff* it’s right there…but...”

Nodding, Sam grabbed Dean’s sleeve. “Then move...and see if you can pick it up again!”

Dean let himself be dragged through the lobby, the nagging itch not enough to launch an all out fit. Nothing pushed him over the edge, and he was beginning to wish for anything to make him sneeze and end the torture. He rubbed his nose again, only to have Sam swat his hand away.

He shot a glare at Sam, who raised his hands innocently. “Don’t make it go away!”

Dean threw his hands in the air, exasperated, and turned away, only to twist back around as his head snapped forward. “HHeh’ETSCHCHYUUuu!

Best. Buildup. Ever. Holy crap, that was incredible.

And so was this:

Dean would have waved, but he was gearing up for another major sneeze. He inhaled in staccato bursts, his head tipping back, and his eyes giving Sam an almost pleading look. “Hhhhhh’iihhhh--HRSHSCHCH-uh! Hiiiihhhh-KISHHHNT! HNGHXT!"

and this:

Dean pressed his lips into a thin line. “Well, that’s one.” He tapped his nose. “And we know this thing works. Time to find the others."

um, I'm stopping this here for now because my screen keeps freezing up and I'm afraid I'm gonna lose this- will finish tomorrow!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yikes! I'm really sorry it took me so long to finish my rambling review. Ok, continuing on:

-The entire part where Sam and Dean are in the store is sooo good. My favorite parts:

“I think...it’s making me...have….have to...hiiihhhh’HETSHCHCHEWW!”

ugh that line was so hot.

-Fiona shaking out her hair and Dean going into a huge fit. And then we come to what was probably my favorite part of the whole thing:

Not caring what was on the cloth, Dean clutched it to his face, and continued to sneeze into it. After a few more, he started to settle down, taking deep breaths, noting that Fiona’s hand was trapped between his and the cloth. In a low, husky voice, she murmured, “That’s it, take deep breaths, Dean. The sage will help.” His eyes fluttered closed from the tears and the itching and Ohmygod her hands scritching the base of his neck with rhythmic, soothing strokes.

Umm I just about died from the hotness of this part. I actually had to put the imagery aside for a moment because I couldn't handle it. omfg. I was also insanely jealous of Fiona, just as an aside. I think I have developed a new fantasy involving me somehow becoming a werecat.

-Poor Dean going into the store and getting set off again! He just can't catch a break smile.png , and he can't wait to get up to his room to recuperate and he has to go back in that meeting room instead. And him thunking his head into Sam's chest in frustration, then Sam patting the top of Dean's head...hehe so much cuteness.

-Dean having to keep holding the cloth in front of his face to stop from sneezing during the meeting, then by the end he just can't stop. And the big reveal of the town being a refuge for werecats, very clever! And also how the werecats all knew about Dean's allergy the whole time! And just the thought of Kemat being able to render Dean helpless in a fight...eeee!

Thank you soooo much again for this. It was perfect in every way. Awesome case fic, awesome allergy fic, lovely h/c moments, some nice sick sam moments to boot...perfect.

I kept thinking, if we are going to have Dean allergic to cats in canon, couldn't we have had this story instead of 'Man's Best Friend With Benefits'? This is so much better written than that episode!

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  • 3 months later...

Very late but just wanted to say that this is one of my absolute favourites :) so original and love the use of Dean's cat allergy. The scenes in the shop where he's helplessly trying to hold back are gold

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I am really glad this was bumped! One of the best supernatural stories written! So glad I got to reread it

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  • 3 months later...

I found this forum a few months ago but joined only a few weeks ago because of stories like this one. I've read this one so many times I practically have it memorized. It's my go-to story whenever I want to read a great allergy fic because I love Dean's cat allergy. In fact, *mumbles* I'm watching MBFWB as I write this.

*clears throat* Anyway, um, I just wanted to let you know I really, really, really like this story and your writing.

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Oh wow - I never did post a thank you for all the awesome reviews.



I had a lot of fun with this one.

(and I may have watched that episode a few too many times myself)

(who am I kidding...I only watched the same 30 seconds many times...)

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Oh wow - I never did post a thank you for all the awesome reviews.



I had a lot of fun with this one.

(and I may have watched that episode a few too many times myself)

(who am I kidding...I only watched the same 30 seconds many times...)

I watch until right after that part because the beginning when Portia comes to the hotel room is funny as hell.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm not crying....I'm just ever so slightly dying of a fan girl attack and I can't handle this. Excuse me while I try to remember how to breathe

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