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A little bit of backup - SPN (Dean) - updated May 7th


Shamaël

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Hem... I know I have an ongoing Star Trek fic, but... I couldn't get this out of my head, so I decided to write it. Spoilers for season 13, episode 18, by the way.

(Am I the ONLY ONE who’s been watching at least a hundred times a part of this episode just because it featured a wounded, vulnerable, and above all feverish Dean for some minutes...? I must confess that Ketch’s "God, you're burning up" line and the way he checked for Dean's temperature almost killed me. Seriously, am I the only one here ? :blushing:)

I don't know if this is going to be a one-shot or the beginning of a longer story. I'm not sure I am canon-complient here because I don't know what Ketch's intentions are. (I really hope he's not going to betray the Winchesters in the end.) The title comes from one of Ketch's lines at the beginning of the episode: "Would having a little bit of backup really be so bad?"...

Annnnd... I know I say that every time I start a new fic, but I can't help: English isn't my native language, I'm French and I'm sure I will make mistakes... and I apologize in advance for that. Please feel free to point out (nicely :rolleyes:) any error you may spot.

 

A little bit of backup

 

The road so far

KETCH: You don’t look good.

DEAN: Yeah, well, you’re not my type either. I’m fine.

KETCH: We’ll take a break. Your wound may be more serious than we thought.

 

Then

(Dean stumbles and collapses.)

KETCH: Dean! (He immediately kneels at Dean’s side and checks for his temperature with the back of his hand.) Oh, God, you’re burning up.

 

Now

Burning up is indeed accurate. The fever is very high already, although Dean has been wounded only half an hour ago. Ketch suspects the bullets have been coated with poison – and a quick examination of the hunter’s shoulder unfortunately confirms his intuition.

What he doesn’t expect though is the delirious ‘How’s it look, Mum?’ Dean whispers seconds after. He doesn’t know what to answer to that, and remains frozen for a few moments. A violent shiver runs down the Winchester’s spine, and he swallows with difficulty, breath shallow and uneven.

“I’ll be back”, Ketch says, quite uselessly, and he feels a bit stupid saying it. He is not going to abandon his ally in the middle of nowhere, is he? Not that he has not done that dozens of times, of course, but… this is different.

He straightens up and looks around him. He’ll certainly find what he needs in these woods without necessarily moving away too far from the wounded man. He knows too well what the poison can do to him. He has to be taken care of quickly.

It takes him some time, but the man of letters eventually gathers all the necessary ingredients to concoct an antidote with what he already have in his emergency bag. When he comes back, Dean has not moved. He is still sprawled on the snow, half unconscious and violently shuddering. Ketch checks for his fever again with the back of his hand. Forehead, cheeks, neck, he is burning.

“Sam…?” Dean asks feebly, blinking his eyes open. An involuntarily spasm contracts his right leg.

Arthur sighs. At least he doesn’t call him ‘Mum’ anymore, which can be considered a progress.

“No, not exactly”, he answers absent-mindedly, retrieving his ingredients from his bag. Taro root, basidio…

HAH’hhISHH’shYEW!"

The man of letters almost jumps, startled, and looks at the injured man lying a few inches from him.

“Bless you.”

Hhhh’EHPTCH’CHYEW!

Dean shivers again and sluggishly wipes his runny nose with his left sleeve. Ketch looks at him suspiciously.

“Did you manage to catch a cold in addition to your wound?”

The other man shrugs and sniffs. Ketch rolls his eyes and fumbles in his bag. If he is not mistaken, he must have a handkerchief somewhere…

Ehhh’TSCHHyuh!

This time, the sneeze is followed by a moan, and Ketch bites his lower lip. What the hell? He seemed perfectly fine minutes ago – at least, not sick. Was it an unknown side-effect from the poison when it was administered to a human?

“Here, take this”, he says, handing the hunter the clean cloth he has found eventually in one of his back pockets.

Dean’s face is scrunched up, his eyebrows knitted and his mouth half-open, if his ragged breathing isn’t enough indication that a fourth sneeze will soon occur.

HapTSHH’uhh!

This is not normal, Arthur thinks, pressing the handkerchief in his ally’s hand. Dean squeezes it and raises it to his damp nostrils.

“Th…hhh… Thanks… What’s… ehh… what’s happeddig to be? AaaaHHhhhTSCHihh!

He pitches forward, and the man of letter is glad that he has given him the handkerchief before that explosion, because it’s messy. The gurgling sound coming from the blow that follows makes him cringe, but he does not turn away, scanning Dean’s face. His skin is sickly pale, except for an unhealthy hectic flush on each cheek, and droplets of sweat bead up on his forehead. His teeth are chattering.

“Sabby... I’b dot feeling too good.”

His left hand clutches Ketch’s fingers. It’s clammy, insanely hot, and trembling.

“Dean, I am not your brother”, he answers urgently. "I do not know what is happening to you, but I will do my best to…”

He stops, unclear about how to end that sentence. To… what? Save you? It sounds a bit too melodramatic.

“… not to let you die a horrible death”, he concludes, gently pulling off his hand from Dean’s.

The shuddering hasn’t stopped, and now Dean’s body is shaken by a chest-rattling cough that doesn’t sound natural at all for the other man’s trained ears. That is… not good, to say the least. God, what do hunters put in their bullets in this universe?

“I’ve already died a dozen of horrible deaths”, Dean chuckles. “It doesn’t frighten me.”

Another convulsive movement runs through his body, as if he was trying to fight something invading his blood, muscles, bones.

Heh’PSHHSSHshuh!

All right, this is definitely not normal. The poison Ketch knows is responsible for the high fever, the shortness of breath, the hallucination – but the sneezing, the coughing? No way. Or Dean already had a cold when they departed from their universe, and was very good at hiding it until he got shot, or something else is at work here.

“Sabby, if I die, dond’t cobe after be, right? We’ve dode that edough.”

Arthur chooses not to answer and continues to prepare the remedy as quickly as he can. He knows what the Winchesters brothers have been through, and he cannot help but admire them. A bit. He won’t admit that, even under torture, of course, but he does admire them. They do not have the Men of letters’ logistics, equipment or extended knowledge, but they have already saved the world several times, and, what’s even more puzzling for Ketch, they are ready to die one for the other without hesitation. He knows it is something he will probably never understand, but he admires it. A lot.

Maybe that’s why he rescued Gabriel and dragged him to the bunker. Maybe that’s why he is here, lost on that bloody alternative universe, with a delirious hunter whose life is now hanging on by a thread…

HUH’PTSHhhSHEeehh!Dean has turned towards him to sneeze freely in the air, and droplets of mucus and saliva land on Ketch's black sleeve. He represses another sigh.

… Or maybe he is just masochistic. Who knows?

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I can’t even explain how much I loved this! I enjoy whatever you write, but this was just amazing! The way that Dean is still calling for Sam since that’s what he knows. I love it! I would really appreciate if you could make a story out of this, but if this is a one-shot than that is fine too. Thank you so much for posting this! I must have read it at least ten times so far and I love it a little more every time. 

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This is great. I admit, I kind of have a thing for Ketch. And you do him brilliantly!

7 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

“No, not exactly”, he answers absent-mindedly, retrieving his ingredients from his bag.

Love this. Very Ketch.

 

7 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

Ketch rolls his eyes and fumbles in his bag. If he is not mistaken, he must have a handkerchief somewhere…

Of course he does!

 

7 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

He stops, unclear about how to end that sentence. To… what? Save you? It sounds a bit too melodramatic.

“… not to let you die a horrible death”, he concludes, gently pulling off his hand from Dean’s.

Totally perfect!

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Okay... first of all, YES.

That episode was chock full of sweaty, unstable, feverish Dean and it was oohhhh soooo goooood. 

I didn't know I needed this until I read it. As for the English not being your first language, well done. I can't even speak a little bit of another language so you're already killing it just to be able to write as well as you do. And secondly, if you ever want help editing feel free to send me a private message and I'm happy to help out :) 

Keep writing. This is awesome. :heart: 

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Wow...where should I begin?

First, let me say that you’re not the only one who savored the forehead feel from Ketch...I enjoyed that bit myself. And as far as English not being your first language goes, you write English really, really well, so don’t worry about that.

This story was perfect! I really liked the format you wrote in, with Ketch’s point of view of feverish, sneezy Dean. I can’t even describe how much I enjoyed what you wrote. You’re a talented writer and I hope you decide to continue!

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This isn't an update, but I just wanted to thank you all for your wonderful and encouraging comments! I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one to like Ketch despite what he's done in the past. And not the only one whose heart stopped when Dean fell over under that tree... I realized today (and even more when I discovered your comments!) that I didn't want to end that story here, so I'm going to continue it. I love to switch points of view, so it will be half Ketch's, half Dean's.

The only problem is that I am canon-freak. I mean that I don't like interferring with what we know about the characters, their relationship, the timeline... And if I want to write a complete sickfic, I'll be confronted with the problem of the very short time Ketch and Dean have together in the alternate universe. Because the ideas I've come up with need some time, and they only have 24 hours, which is too short a time for an illness to fully develop, even if it's magically triggered. Soooo, couldn't we just say that time doesn't pass at the same speed?  What do you think? If you have a better idea, feel free to tell me, because it really upsets me.

@MissBayliss: Thank you so much for your editing proposal! I will PM you if I have questions or doubts. Most of the time, it's the syntax that bothers me, because I always have the impression that I follow the French sentence construction and that, even if it's not completely wrong, there is a better way to write it in English. The prepositions are another problem, and the tenses of the verb yet another one. :sweatdrop:

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37 minutes ago, Aliena H. said:

Soooo, couldn't we just say that time doesn't pass at the same speed?  What do you think? If you have a better idea, feel free to tell me, because it really upsets me.

I’m so glad that you’re going to continue it! As for time not passing at the same speed, I think that that is a great idea! You could even say it is a side effect of a magical illness or something like that. Either way I will enjoy whatever you write. Thanks again for continuing it! I can’t wait for the next update!

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@Wolfwings22: Thanks for the answer and the great idea of a magical side-effect! The problem is that time must pass at the same speed for Ketch and Dean... I'll think about it.

There isn't much sneezing in this part, it's more a description of his sudden illness in general. I love writing "missing scenes", or developing a character's point of view about a scene I've loved in a movie or series episode, so this is Dean's point of view and what he's feeling during his walk with Ketch. (Obviously, I love describing illness symptoms too. :rolleyes:)

 

He’s not sure there is a time when he has felt so unwell. The problem isn’t the pain. Oh, it is present, and even excruciating, but he is accustomed to it. He’s been shot countless times, and has suffered wounds so much worse than this one. He didn’t expect his flesh to be burning that bad, though. As if his shoulder had spontaneously combusted. Each movement is a torture. He has the impression that thousands of needles are slowly injecting him a thick and disgusting liquid, which is slowly spreading from his wound throughout his body, crawling down his scapula, upper arm, chest. He coughs painfully, for what seems hours but are probably only seconds, surprised at the wheezing sound of the air getting into his lungs when he finally gets his breath back.

The problem isn’t the pain, but the other symptoms that have gradually assailed him during his walk in the snow. He’s been frequently punched, shot at, stabbed, burned, tortured, and he knows he can endure it, but illness isn’t something he’s used to. It isn’t something he reacts quite well to, either. To be honest, it is a kind of weakness he despises a bit, and he hates being sick, because he doesn't understand, if his body’s been able to withstand hell, why can’t he get rid of a handful of germs?

Maybe that’s why he didn’t say anything when he realised that, apart for the agonizing pain in his right shoulder, something’s wrong with him. Or maybe it’s because it’s Ketch he’s walking with, and Dean’s experience taught him not to trust Ketch, even when he seems almost friendly, or worried about him, or willing to help him. Even now, he’s not sure that the concern he saw in the man’s eyes some minutes ago (or hours, he’s completely lost track of the time, which isn’t a good sign) isn’t an effect of his delirium. Because he’s delirious. He knows for sure he is. Seconds ago, he could have sworn Sam was here next to him. Then he blinked, and sneezed, and Sam was gone.

A shiver runs through Dean’s body. That’s how it started, when Ketch and himself resumed their walk in the path their attacker showed them – a shiver. And yes, it’s cold in this damned universe, but Dean isn’t exactly sensitive to cold. Anyway, the unnatural wave of heat that washed over him just after that first shudder isn’t normal. And it didn’t stop there. From then on, it’s been as if his internal thermometer was broken, or, worse, as if his body had been desperately trying to regulate his temperature, with no avail, switching from freezing cold to burning heat in a heartbeat. He hasn’t experienced such discomfort since the nasty flu he managed to catch three years ago, that left him, Dean Winchester, confined to bed for six days while his brother went hunting all alone.

But the fever isn’t the only problem. Nausea has hit him with such violence that he has needed all his willpower to keep the contents of his stomach, well, inside his stomach. But puking in front of Ketch? No way. When black spots have started dancing in front of his eyes and the world around him suddenly faded into something unclear, blurry, he wondered if his new ally would notice how sick he was feeling. But Ketch, engrossed into the careful examination of their assailant’s weapons, didn’t. Not even when Dean muffled a hoarse cough into his left sleeve (because rising his right arm has become too painful), unable to repress it anymore. His lungs had been burning for quite a long time, and each intake of breath was a torture. Each step was more difficult than the last…

… Until he stumbled and finally fell on the ground. He was aiming at the tree though. He remembers that very well: he was holding out his left hand to lean on the trunk, but both his legs buckled at the same time, and the next second he collapsed in the snow, unable to breathe, unable to see through the fever-induced veil that was dancing in front of his eyes.

No, he can’t remember a time when he has felt so unwell.

He closes his eyes. He is so tired. His whole body aches. Hacking, dry, harsh coughs shake his body. Ketch's voice sounds almost panicked when he orders him to breathe, and he really tries, but the cough doesn't subside.

Then, he passes out.

When he wakes up, Dean is leaning over a large stone. He lifts his head with difficulties, assaulted by a sudden dizziness as he does, and glances warily at Ketch, who is cooking up some sort of antidote for whatever shit that fucking hunter put inside his bullets. While his new ally explains him what he knows about the poison their attacker used, Dean briefly wonders how he got here. Somehow, he doubts that the man of letter settled him comfortably on that stone.

Shortness of breath? Delirium? Yeah, well, it doesn't even begin to cover what he's experiencing right now, but Ketch seems to know what he's doing, so...

“You guys are such dicks”, he growls, and he is surprised to see an unexpected hint of uneasiness in the other man’s eyes.

“Yes, well… Guilty”.

Dean frowns. He has the impression that Ketch is really ill-at-ease.

Or maybe he’s still delirious. Knowing the bastard, that’s more probable.

“Now then… this will… smart.”

It will hurt as hell, Dean immediately translates. And boy does it hurt. As soon as the man of letters applies the mixture on the ill-looking scar, Dean stiffens, sucks a harsh breath and almost immediately breathes out, trying not to scream at the flaring pain that explodes in his shoulder.

“Here we are. It will take some minutes to be effective.”

Dean can feel the pain gradually flow back as the antidote seems to be sucking the poison out of his body, and he nods curtly. Ketch adds:

“However, I am not sure this is wise to carry on in your current state. Maybe we should…”

“You know what, Ketch? Shut up. We’re not abandoning my mother and Jack in this universe, okay? I- HHATchCHhhew!

The sneeze takes him completely by surprise, and he doesn’t have time to cover it, not even to turn his head away. Ketch’s look switches from worry to disgust. Had the situation been a little less dramatic, Dean would have laughed. Instead, he lurches forward with a second powerful sneeze that almost takes one of his lungs with him.

Hhh’HAPHTCH’uhhhh! Snirfl Give be two bidutes and we’re leavidg.”

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Oh, Poor Dean. I like his perspective of things.

4 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

“Now then… this will… smart.”

It will hurt as hell, Dean immediately translates.

LOL, this is perfect.

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7 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

You guys are such dicks”, he growls, and he is surprised to see an unexpected hint of uneasiness in the other man’s eyes.

“Yes, well… Guilty”.

I actually laughed out loud at this part. Awesome update! I love the way that Dean still wants to continue on with what they need to do like always. Thanks for this update! I can’t wait for another!

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This was an amazing update! I cannot wait for the next part!

9 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

You guys are such dicks”, he growls, and he is surprised to see an unexpected hint of uneasiness in the other man’s eyes.

“Yes, well… Guilty”.

Dean frowns. He has the impression that Ketch is really ill-at-ease.

Or maybe he’s still delirious. Knowing the bastard, that’s more probable.

“Now then… this will… smart.”

It will hurt as hell, Dean immediately translates

This made me laugh-I honestly had to try hard not to quote the whole story!

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I don't know why, the @ doesn't seem to be working today... So, AngelEyes, Wolfwings22 and castiel_angel, thank you for your comment! I managed to write a little part today but unfortunately from now on I won't be able to update daily anymore... I really, really hope that Ketch isn't going to betray the boys at the end, by killing Jack for instance of something equally as horrible, because I'd be sooooo disappointed, considering the way I want him to progress in my story! By the way, I'm afraid this will be a long fic. It seems that I just can't write anything short, so...

Okay, back to Ketch's point of view. This is the last "missing scene" (I didn't quote the whole dialogue between them, at night, when they stop so that Dean is able to rest a bit, but I really loved it, especially Ketch's almost despaired "Duty, and all that. Rubbish." - oh my God, I'm liking Ketch more and more). Then I'll go with "my" story. I have decided to use a former SPN episode that could have been way better if the script had been written by a fetishist (of course, every episode could be better if written by a fetishist, but this one... well... :rolleyes:). Any guess?

 

While they progress (more or less) silently in the forest, Ketch wonders why he has found himself providing encouragements to Dean as if he had to take care of a sick kid. (Did he really tell him “Good lad”? That is almost hard to believe. It is a good thing Dean had been half delirious with the pain at that time.) Arthur is a bit older, yes, but they are from the same generation. And Dean Winchester, sick or not, is by no means a kid. He is a formidable hunter, a cold-bloodied killer, not a kid.

For now, he is walking in the snow, just behind Ketch, panting but seemingly in better shape than an hour ago. However, the man of letters doubts that his antidote has completely cured him, and he is waiting in apprehension the moment Dean will collapse again – because he will, inescapably. This poison drains the victim’s strength, even after the cure has been administered.

When it finally happens, at nightfall, after a two hours and a half walk, Arthur is mildly impressed by the man’s resilience, and his determination to find and save that Charlie girl. And when he finally understand why it is so important to him, he can’t help but wonder how many other ‘failures’ Dean carefully hides behind his mask. They are not that different, Ketch has always know it. But Dean has already been redeemed, whereas he will never be. Asmodeus is right. He doesn’t deserve salvation. He hopes the despair is not too obvious in his voice, but at the same time, he has the intuition that Dean has already been through this and actually understands him.

“Impossible and stupid, huh? You say that like it’s a bad thing.” Dean hits him on the chest, as he probably would do with his brother, or a friend, and Arthur doesn’t know how to react to that.

“Come on.”

And they resume walking, this time Dean ahead and Ketch behind, but something has changed between them. It is precarious, subtle, almost imperceptible, but it is there.

Not ten minutes after their awkward heart-to-heart conversation, Dean’s breath becomes ragged again, wheezing, almost painful, and he lets out a husky cough. Ketch doesn’t comment on it, because he knows his advices of rest would be useless, but it doesn’t sound good. The hunter’s whole body is shaken by the nasty hacking cough he obviously cannot control, and despite the efforts he makes to smother it into his sleeve, the noise reverberates in the silent night. After five minutes, as the fit shows no sign of abating, and even grows stronger, Ketch cannot take it anymore. He puts a hand on his ally’s shoulder.

“You cannot go on like this.”

Dean stops and turns towards him. His forehead is clammy with sweat and, in the dim light the moon provides them, now that they are out of the forest, he seems ghostly pale and as sick as he will ever be.

“Obviously, the antidote did not work”, Arthur adds quietly. “Continuing like this until you fall again of exhaustion is utterly stupid.”

Dean finally stops coughing, sniffs thickly and answers hoarsely:

“The antidote worked. I’m not hurting anymore, and believe me, it’s a great-heh… a great improvement. HuhHHPSHhSHyuh!

Of course, the harsh sneeze that make him double over doesn’t make his speech very convincing.

“Then, what’s happening to you?” Ketch asks curtly. “Your symptoms are not…

Hhh’HAPPTCHtchyew!

“… not natural, you cannot deny it.”

AhhhTSCHH! Snrff – I dond’t.” The hunter snuffles again, and then frowns and bites his lower lip. “I think the bullet’s been coated with poison, yes, but also… I don’t know, cursed or something?”

“What do you mean cursed?”

Dean’s frown deepens, as if he was trying to remember a very old and confuse memory.

“I don’t know… It seems almost… familiar, but I can’t place it.”

He twists on the side just in time to sneeze in the crook of his arm, loud and uncontrolled, a thunderous triple that makes Ketch wince.

EhhISHHSHuhh! HehpTSHH’SHYUH! EhhhHaAAAH’TCHYEW!

Arthur surreptitiously glances around. He is becoming worried that Dean’s sneezes or hoarse coughing fits should give away their position. But, dammit, he cannot silence him with a gag or a blow on the head, can he? Moreover, they still are on the road, and that makes Ketch feeling vulnerable, exposed, naked.

He tries to ignore Dean’s heavy and spasmodic breathing and the way his hand has suddenly clung on to his ally’s shoulder for support during the fit, but he knows that the feeling that is slowly creeping on his insides can be labelled as fear. It is almost ironic that he has to be stuck in here with a sick Dean Winchester. He is accustomed to violence, blood, open wounds, but illness? That’s something he is definitely not at ease with. And he is pretty sure that Dean is not either.

“Bless you.”

The hunter, still panting, shots him an incredulous look.

“Seriously? Bless you?

“You need to rest…” Arthur begins, but only to be cut off by another bout of coughing. Dean’s hand, still on his shoulder, contracts as he bent over.

“In… which… language… do I have… to tell you?” He splutters painfully, coughing between each word. “We. Don’t. Have. Time.”

He looks at his watch, probably in order to support his argument, but his eyes open wide and he shakes his head.

“Okay, I must be delirious. Tell me what time it is?”

Ketch sighs and looks at the hunter’s watch. 7:03 PM.

“It must be broken. Let me have a look at mine.”

But the little pocket watch he always carries with him gives the exact same time.

“It’s not possible”, he says. “It would mean that we’ve been on this world for only one hour and a half, but…”

“But we’ve been walking for at least three or four hours since that son of a bitch tried to shoot me”, Dean concludes, looking puzzled. To be honest, Arthur doesn’t understand either.

There is a noise in the bushes, not far from them – too close, Ketch has the time to think –, and both of them react instinctively.

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1 hour ago, Aliena H. said:

(Did he really tell him “Good lad”? That is almost hard to believe. It is a good thing Dean had been half delirious with the pain at that time.)

LOL

 

1 hour ago, Aliena H. said:

But Dean has already been redeemed, whereas he will never be. Asmodeus is right. He doesn’t deserve salvation.

Sad!!!

 

1 hour ago, Aliena H. said:

“I think the bullet’s been coated with poison, yes, but also… I don’t know, cursed or something?”

Uh Oh!

 

1 hour ago, Aliena H. said:

The hunter, still panting, shots him an incredulous look.

“Seriously? Bless you?

LOL, I can totally see the expression on Dean's face!

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2 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

I'm afraid this will be a long fic. It seems that I just can't write anything short, so...

I am thrilled this is going to be a long fic! I enjoy long ones so much so thank you! Awesome update as always. Dean is just so stubborn and Ketch is trying his best, but Dean is just so Dean. Thanks so much for writing this! I can’t wait for more!

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11 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

By the way, I'm afraid this will be a long fic. It seems that I just can't write anything short, so...

 I’m so excited about this! Feel free to make this as looong as you’d like. 

So...woah, two updates here and I love this story!! Don’t feel bad for liking Ketch, he’s growing on me too... ;) 

I love every bit of this and found my self selecting just about every part of the story to comment on, so I’ll just tell you flat out, it’s perfect!! The writing and the plot...and Dean’s sniffles and sneezes of course, are quite nice. 

AND thanks for updating so quickly! 

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@AngelEyes @Wolfwings22 @jensdw: thanks so much for the feedback! And sorry, I have not been able to update sooner because my computer doesn't work and I had to borrow my boyfriend's laptop today. This week I'm going on a school trip with my students (in London!!! And we're going to Harry Potter's studios!!!) so I won't be able to write much. Sorry. :blushsad:

(Would you be averse to some contagion? Just asking.)

I wanted to use Castiel and / or Crowley from the other universe, but I'm so afraid the scenarist are going to use them I have decided to wait until the season is over before deciding if I'm going to play a bit with those characters I love. So, it's just Dean and Ketch for the moment. And an unexpected ally...

 

Part 4

Dean wonders how much his life is weird, and twisted, and fucked up, when he realises how quick his body, even weak and trembling with exhaustion and probable fever, can react in front of a potential danger. One minute before, he was hunched and hacking up a lung, the next moment he’s straightened up, his gun in his hand, ready to shoot whoever has been following them and hiding in that bush near the road. At his left side, Ketch has reacted as swiftly as he has himself: he is on the lookout, finger on the trigger, scanning their surroundings, utterly… professional.

Profession: killer. And that goes for both of them, as Dean is well aware. No difference between them on that point.

The man of letters makes a calculated shot in the snow near the bush where the suspect noise that alerted both of them came from. They immediately hear a strangle scream, and Ketch jumps towards the figure that is desperately trying to scoot away. Dean lets him, shaken by a vicious double sneeze that’s been growing in his nose during the last ten seconds, a maddening tickle, an urge to get rid of whatever is infecting his nasal cavities.

HeehIHHSHeew! Hh’AHSHHHuhh!

When he opens his eyes, the figure has been pinned down, brutally put back on his feet and is now threatened with the man of letter’s revolver…

Dammit, Ketch, don’t shoot, it’s a kid!” The yell almost tears his throat apart, and he resumes coughing painfully. His heart jumps in his chest when he sees the frightened face of the boy his ally is currently holding at gunpoint. The warning has none effect on Ketch though: he just immobilises his young prey’s with a very efficient armlock. The child winces, and Dean really hopes Ketch isn’t hurting him too much.

Fuck, don’t you see it’s a kid? A kid, for God’s sake!” he repeats angrily, shaken by another bout of dry coughing.

He wants to come closer, to free the boy from the man’s grasp, but his lungs are on fire and he feels too dizzy to move. In front of him, Ketch remains impassive and waits for the crisis to pass before asking calmly:

A what age did you start hunting, Dean?”

The answer Dean was about to give dies on his lips, and he flinches. Of course, the obnoxious asshole is right. It’s not because their enemy is young that he’s not dangerous. He knows that very well.

The hunter looks more closely at the child in the moonlight. Fifteen years at the very most, dirty tangled brown hair, tanned skin, some freckles, stubborn green eyes looking at him defiantly, chin up despite the obvious fear that makes him pant and sweat. A scar on the left cheek. Ragged clothes. Far too skinny.

He looks vaguely familiar to Dean.

What were you doing here on that bush?” Ketch asks, not too gently.

None of your business”, the kid rasps, and he’s rewarded by a blow on the head. Dean notices that Ketch has used his hand and not his weapon, as he probably would have with an adult.

I don’t like to repeat myself”, the man of letters says coldly, squeezing his young prisoner’s arm with a bit more strength than necessary. “I will not be that nice if you disrespect me again.

The teenager swallows, looking desperately for a way out, and his eyes meet Dean’s for a split second. The hunter’s breath catches in his chest as he understands why this face seems so familiar.

It could’ve been me. Hell, it’s probably what I looked like twenty-five years ago.

Dean glances at Ketch and notices his almost imperceptible nod. He doesn’t know if it’s this strange universe, the fever that is rising, or their recent talk, but he immediately understands what his ally wants him to do. As if they’d shared a bond, a bond that is strong enough to understand one another with a glance and a nod – something Dean has never experienced, except with Sam, of course.

The idea that it can happen with Ketch is of course highly disturbing.

Listen, kid, you have to understand us”, he says with a voice so hoarse he doesn’t even recognize it. “We have to know what you’re up to, we can’t set you free without knowing why you’ve been following us and what your intentions are.”

Set me free?” the boy asks, hope obvious in his voice and eyes.

It seems that in this universe, children don’t know anything about that ‘good cop, bad cop’ thing. Good. It will makes things easier. He doesn’t know if he can impersonate a good cop, but Ketch sure is an excellent bad cop.

So, what were you doing here?” Dean asks more gently. “How long have you been following us?” The kid bites his lower lip. “Ketch, take that gun off his head.”

The man of letter slowly obeys, and the child lets out a sigh of relief.

I saw you kicking his ass to that slaver”, he admits. “And, wow, it was… impressive.”

Slaver?” the hunter asks for clarification, turning away to sneeze. “HEP’TSCHyuhh!” His ears are ringing and when he sniffs and swallows, he can feel the disgusting liquid coming down his throat. It almost tastes like blood. Hell, he hopes it isn’t blood.

You know, hunters who work for the angels? They injure rebels or wanderers, and then they sell them to those bastards.”

Ketch comes back to what interests them.

You have been following us from that moment?”

The boy nods gingerly and the two men exchange glances. Stealth apparently is a second nature for him.

Impressive.” The hunter winks at the boy, who relaxes a bit. “What were you hoping for?”

Well, he had weapons… I mean, crazy stuff... So I thought…”

“… That you could steal them from us at the earliest opportunity?” Ketch completes calmly.

The child nods non-committally. Apparently, something else is bothering him.

What’s the problem?”

I… I heard you. You were talking about Charlie. Is it true she’s been caught?”

Dean’s heart immediately stops, and then races.

You know Charlie? Charlie Bradbury?”

Yeah. She helps us. She’s great, we love her.” There’s obvious pain and sorrow in the kid’s voice.

Who is ‘us’?”

Oh, we’re about fifteen. Our parents died in the Apocalypse. I’m the older.”

Dean imagines easily Charlie, helping a bunch of scared and angry children, teaching them survival and solidarity… A wave of nostalgia hits him. He misses her so much.

Apparently, Ketch has decided that the boy can be trusted, because he releases him.

Would you help us save her?” he asks.

Dean wants to protest. Leading children in what suspiciously looks like a suicide mission is out of the question. But before he has time to step in, the man of letters adds:

We are not asking you or your friends to fight with us, but you may have valuable information.”

The kid looks at him intently.

What do you want to know?”

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10 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

Would you be averse to some contagion? Just asking.

Uh, No! Are we talking sneezy Ketch? Because, mmmm.

 

10 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

Dean glances at Ketch and notices his almost imperceptible nod. He doesn’t know if it’s this strange universe, the fever that is rising, or their recent talk, but he immediately understands what his ally wants him to do. As if they’d shared a bond, a bond that is strong enough to understand one another with a glance and a nod – something Dean has never experienced, except with Sam, of course.

Awwww

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Ohh, I like this. (shocker I know)

Dean trying to work through his illness and Ketch trying to stop him is...yum. I really like what’s going on with the plot too! Very intriguing...

Have a great trip!!

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Awesome part! The fact that Dean is relating to this kid is so sincere and kind of heartbreaking at the same time. I can’t wait to see what happens next! 

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@AngelEyes and @jensdw and @Wolfwings22: I'm so sorry for the delay! I'm back from London and my laptop seems to work, so here's the next part. Thank you so much for your nice comments!

On 30/04/2018 at 7:05 AM, AngelEyes said:

Are we talking sneezy Ketch? Because, mmmm.

Well, yes. I must confess I cannot resist that. For reasons you're going to understand in this part, the illness has overwhelmed Dean because of the curse in the bullet that has spread the germs almost immediately. It's not going to be the same story for Ketch. I want some slow contagion (well, slow is relative, of course, but it will happen gradually).

 

"Who's the more foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him?"

This is madness. They will never make it, and Ketch is sure Dean knows it. However, he refuses to think about another plan. Refuses to see that he needs rest, instead of running (or, in this case, walking painfully like a zombie, pausing every minute to sneeze or cough harshly) into the wild to find a secret angel lab before rescuing that Charlie girl in the silo. Dean’s behaviour is completely absurd, in addition to being stubborn and puerile. And Ketch must be equally stupid, because he’s following him.

The child has given them precious information. The silo the hunter talked about is apparently the angel’s façade, the place where they send their healthy prisoners for either slavery, torture or execution. But the rebels that have been wounded by a cursed bullet are taken to a secret place somewhere under the nearest mountain. The kids Charlie Bradbury is helping live in small groups, hidden in the woods, and they have met a man who has been a prisoner in that lab. The only known person who survived after being shot by this kind of bullet, because he has been miraculously cured by the angels to become a slave. The poison and curse’s purpose is only to slow the fugitives down and prevent them from escaping. Then they are healed and used for different purposes.

And if they miraculously escape before that…

Ketch shakes his head. He doesn’t want to think about the child’s last words, whispered into his ears before he left. Dean said that the men of letters are ‘dicks’, and he has to admit that it is true, but those slavers are so much worse.

HehEHPttchEEhh! What tibe is it?”

“Almost 2 in the morning.”

The other discovery they have made is that time doesn’t pass at the same speed in this universe. Thanks to the watch the boy gave them in exchange for an angel killing knife, Arthur has been able to determine that an hour in their world is three hours in the alternate universe. So, they have three days, and not only one as they thought in the first place. Which is good news, or would be, if only Dean would stop looking and sounding so sick. As they have time, the man of letters suggested that they stop for a moment to let him recover a bit, but of course the hunter didn’t agree with this plan. No logical argument has convinced him to stop for a while, to look for a shelter, to study the situation more carefully.

Huhhh’HATTTCHyuhh!”

Dean stops abruptly, trembling and gasping, and Ketch has barely the time to grab his arm, and then to support him at the waist to prevent him from falling.

“Dean!”

Doubled over, panting, the Winchester squeezes his chest with his right hand. Obviously, it hurts. What was a dry cough an hour ago has quickly turned into a more phlegmy and productive one, carrying a whole world of disgusting germs, as if sixty minutes were sufficient for the infection to spread all over the lungs. The sneezes also sound more forceful and messier. Arthur swallows, ill-at-ease, and kneels near his ally who cannot stand upright anymore, helping him to sit near the path they are now following on their way to the mountain. He gently applies the back of his hand on Dean’s cheek. Still burning up. The fever stubbornly refuses to decrease, and maybe is even a bit higher than it was last time Ketch checked for it. The hunter’s body is shaken by irrepressible quakes and for the fourth time since the child has left them, Arthur takes the small flask from his bag and presses it against Dean’s lips. He turns away with a wince of disgust, shaken by a new bout of chesty cough, and pushes the bottle away in half-delirium, but the man of letter doesn’t have the intention to give in so easily. Imprisoning Dean’s burning hands in his own is a child’s play, considering the other man’s weakness. Ketch endeavours not to think about the clammy skin under his fingers and he keeps playing his role of improvised doctor. He has recognized some plants that are natural antipyretics, and has been mixing the leaves with the water he had taken with him.

When Dean finally swallows three sips of the derisory remedy, Arthur puts back his flask into his bag and brushes the younger man’s forehead with his fingers. It is a useless gesture and he knows it, but he imagines that there is something comforting in it.

As if he knew anything about comforting people.

“You have to rest”, he says for the millionth time. “We have three days.”

“Ketch, I don’t have three days”, Dean rasps, closing his eyes in exhaustion.

“Very well. Once again, what is the story you are not telling me?” the man of letter asks. When the boy told them what he knew about the secret lab and the magical artefact – a ring – the angels use to cure people, Dean has turned deadly pale. He knows what it is, he has already seen it, Arthur is positive about it, but, as usual, he refuses to trust him. Oh, Ketch is accustomed to people’s defiance and wariness, of course, but here, in the middle of nowhere, after the conversation they had… well, he had imagined things had changed, even so slightly.

Obviously he was wrong.

Dean whips his head to the side and answers with two unforgiving sneezes.

HuhAHTSHuhh! HAH’AhhTSHHShhhew!”

“I propose you a deal: I know a spell Rowena taught me. It is used to find places that have been hidden. I need some time to perform it, but I think I am able to do it. In the meantime, you will stop walking, rest, accept my jacket to keep you warm, and try to sleep. Does it sound acceptable to you?”

The hunter looks at him intensely and it makes Ketch ill-at-ease. Then his breath starts hitching, his eyelids flutter, and for the thousandth time since they first stopped on the snow, he lets out a throaty sneeze that makes him double over with a moan.

Haaahh’EHHTSCHHHEEW! Okay, let’s… let’s do this.”

Arthur straightens up, puts his bag on the ground and takes his jacket off. He shivers in the cold, but the most important is to keep both of them alive. Despite the burning heat radiating from Dean, he needs to be protected from the wind as much as possible.

“Why are you doigg all this?” the younger man whispers with a small cough he uselessly tries to repress.

“Doing what?” Ketch asks, putting the cloth on Dean’s shoulders that are shaking so hard he wonders why they cannot hear the clicking of the bones.

“Helpigg be. Takigg care of be. As if we were… frieds or… I dod’t kndow. Snrfl – It’s… strandge.”

“Duty, and all this”, Ketch answers with a shrug, and Dean smiles. The man of letter finds himself smiling back.

He has all the ingredients he needs for the spell. It is a bit complicated, but he should be able to perform it. And if it takes him more time than expected, well, it’s not his fault, is it? Dean needs to rest, to recover his strength. Two sneezes erupt from him and he dabs at his nose with the sodden handkerchief Arthur gave him hours ago.

“The ring the kid told us about… You’re right, I know what it is. And believe me, it’s not good news.”

Ketch is almost surprised by that unprompted confession. He’s been asking about it since the child left, but the hunter stubbornly refused to give him any answer, although it is obvious he knows the artefact very well.

“I gathered as much. What is it then?”

“It’s… Pestilence’s ring.”

If that was supposed to be a revelation, well, it doesn’t work the way it should, because Ketch has never heard of it, so he raises an eyebrow and patiently waits for the explanation.

“You don’t know about Pestilence?” Dean asks in shock.

“My speciality is killing monsters. I don’t have much time for studies.”

“Fair enough. Well, Pestilence is one of the four Apocalypse horsemen. His power comes from a ring he wears. If he turns it, he can contaminate anyone with any illness, or cure anyone from any illness. That’s how the angels ‘miraculously’ cured the man the kids met.”

“Do you think they made an alliance with the horsemen?”

“No, I don’t think so.” Dean shakes his head. “I believe that if they had, the disease would be more... ehhh... mbore serious EhhhPTCHIEW!” Ketch almost chokes when he hears those words. “I beand... Snnff... I mean it should incapacitate the rebel immediately, but it only started some time after I’ve been shot at. My guess is that they dealt with Pestilence, killed him, and tried to use his ring, but they only managed to create some… kind of horrible cold rapidly turning into pneumonia? At least it’s how it feels.”

As if to prove his points, Dean resumes coughing. Ketch nods pensively. It makes sense. Or, at least, would make sense if the child had not told him that this disease is also used for another purpose.

It is better that Dean doesn’t know now. No need to worry him about that, now that he is dozing off, still shivering and breathing hard, but at least resting.

Why am I doing all this? Arthur wonders, not for the first time, turning back to the spell preparation. He realises that he doesn’t have a clear answer. But one thing is sure, it is not for duty. Maybe it has more to do with… solidarity?

He feels a strong tickle in his nose and discretely muffles a sneeze in the crook of his arm.

More probably, he is just being incredibly stupid.

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5 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

Well, yes. I must confess I cannot resist that.

Squeeeee!!!!!

 

5 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

He has recognized some plants that are natural antipyretics, and has been mixing the leaves with the water he had taken with him.

Clever man.

 

5 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

When Dean finally swallows three sips of the derisory remedy, Arthur puts back his flask into his bag and brushes the younger man’s forehead with his fingers. It is a useless gesture and he knows it, but he imagines that there is something comforting in it.

Awwww.

 

5 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

“Duty, and all this”, Ketch answers with a shrug, and Dean smiles. The man of letter finds himself smiling back.

Such a sweet moment.

 

5 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

“It’s… Pestilence’s ring.”

Uh oh!

 

5 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

Why am I doing all this? Arthur wonders, not for the first time, turning back to the spell preparation. He realises that he doesn’t have a clear answer. But one thing is sure, it is not for duty. Maybe it has more to do with… solidarity?

I like this.

 

5 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

More probably, he is just being incredibly stupid.

But then this is Ketch just shaking it off.

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  • 8 months later...
On 4/30/2018 at 6:24 AM, jensdw said:

Ohh, I like this. (shocker I know)

okkaayyy so....please forgive me for bumping an old thread, but i was re-reading this fic (it’s so good) and i realized that I wrote the “shocker I know” being sarcastic, as in it’s not a surprise that i like this fic because it’s so good—but sarcasm obviously doesn’t come across over text...I doubt anyone really noticed or cared, but yeah, sorry about my dumb, sarcastic self. I felt too bad about that not to say something.

On a second note, I realize that the last update was a while ago, but i never commented on it, and i just wanted to say how much i adore this story. 

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@jensdw: I just saw you answered to this topic, and I wanted to thank you for the comment on the story, and to admit that I wasn't sure I had understood your "shocker I know" when I first read it. It's sometimes complicated to understand sarcasm when it's written and you don't have the voice tone to give you a clue (that, and the fact that I sometimes struggle with English language). So thank you for clarifying it for me! As for the story, I don't know if I'll finish it. When I started it, I was into SPN and obsessed with that scene in the episode with Ketch and Dean, but then I don't know, I lost interest for it and I was sure that most of the readers had lost interest in it too (except for AngelEyes who is always incredibly nice to me and my fics). I know that I write very long stuff and that people often comment at the beginning and quit after some time because it's too long. But maybe I'll come back to it when I'm finished with my Secret Santa story. I can't promise though. Anyway, thanks a lot for your message!

 

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2 hours ago, Aliena H. said:

@jensdw: I just saw you answered to this topic, and I wanted to thank you for the comment on the story, and to admit that I wasn't sure I had understood your "shocker I know" when I first read it. It's sometimes complicated to understand sarcasm when it's written and you don't have the voice tone to give you a clue (that, and the fact that I sometimes struggle with English language). So thank you for clarifying it for me! As for the story, I don't know if I'll finish it. When I started it, I was into SPN and obsessed with that scene in the episode with Ketch and Dean, but then I don't know, I lost interest for it and I was sure that most of the readers had lost interest in it too (except for AngelEyes who is always incredibly nice to me and my fics). I know that I write very long stuff and that people often comment at the beginning and quit after some time because it's too long. But maybe I'll come back to it when I'm finished with my Secret Santa story. I can't promise though. Anyway, thanks a lot for your message!

 

Once again, I'm so, so sorry!!!!! I think your writing is amazing. I just want to tell you not to feel pressured to write more, I know how hard it is to come up with something new when you lose interest in your topic. I just wanted to make sure that you know how fantastic I think your story is. Thank you for being so kind. :heart: 

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