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Title: The Voice Of Thy Brother's Blood
Author: zuben_eschamali
Rating: PG-13 (language, violence)
Genre: Gen
Word count: 3,402
Summary: AU for "Croatoan". What if Dean was the one in the clinic who got infected and tried to spread it to Sam?

Disclaimer: Not mine, which is probably a good thing, 'cause the on-screen angst is enough...

A/N:. This story was written for summer_sam_love and the hc_bingo prompt "undiagnosed, mysterious illness", and it nets me Oregon on my 50 states table. A three-fer!  The title is from Genesis 4:10.

Afterwards, they never did figure out how it had happened. Maybe Mr. Tanner's blood had gotten on Dean when he was carrying the body into the clinic. Maybe Dean hadn't handled the knife from the blood-soaked car carefully enough. Maybe he'd cut himself on the blood-stained glass after watching the kid take a nose-dive out the window.

However it had happened, it was painfully clear to Sam as Dean grabbed a hold of his shirtfront and sent him flying with unnatural force across the room to smash against the glass-doored medicine cabinet that something unimaginably horrible had happened.

Dean had been infected.

They'd been in the middle of preparing their chemical bombs when Dean said he needed to talk to Sam. He'd walked ahead of Dean into the closed-off examining room, frowning a little when Dean locked the door behind him, but figuring he wanted to be safe rather than sorry.

Sam had only a split second to realize that it wasn't someone on the outside that he needed to worry about before his back was slamming into the cabinet door, the shattering of glass filling his ears as pain shot down his spine. He tried to shake it off, aware that he needed to move,, needed to get away from the threat (while something in his head screamed that it was Dean, not a threat), but he was dazed from the impact, sprawled out on the ground and blinking up at the fluorescent lights overhead.

"Dean," he gasped out as his brother bent over him, pulling the knife from his belt. "What are you doing?"

"I thought you were the smart one, college boy." Dean's arm moved blindingly fast, the blow to Sam's jaw snapping his head back. "I'm just doing what Dad told me to."

Shaking his head to try and clear it, Sam tried to push himself up, but his palms landed on shards of glass, and he collapsed again. "What are you talking about?" he muttered, trying to crab-walk backwards but trapped by the cabinet behind him. His head was pounding, making it hard to think about how he was going to save himself and Dean from this.

Dean's foot connected with his side, not a kick so much as a shove, pushing him a foot or so to the side. The floor underneath where he'd fallen was cleared of glass, and Dean dropped to his knees, reaching for the collar of Sam's shirt and giving it a hard yank until the buttons ripped open. Cool air rushed over his chest, the chill of vulnerability close behind it.

"I lied to you, Sam," Dean was saying, holding up the knife, his eyes gleaming too-brightly even while his expression stayed calm. "Dad did tell me something before he died. Something about you."

Suddenly, he brought the knife down with a swift movement, slicing through the skin right over Sam's heart.

"Ahhh!" Sam burst out, trying to reach up to the wound, but Dean had managed to pin down his arm when he knelt, and all Sam could do was get crane his neck to a glimpse of a reassuringly shallow cut on his chest.

His sluggish, possibly-injured brain kicked in. No, it wasn't reassuring at all. Not if Dean was (oh God please no) infected.

Damn it, why couldn't his vision have shown him this, instead of some random guy getting plugged? He would have kept them out of Oregon for the rest of their lives if he'd had a pre-nightmare of Dean hovering over him with a knife and a dark smile.

"Dad told me I had to watch out for you, Sam. Said I was going to have to save you." Dean leaned in closer, lifting the knife again, and Sam instinctively raised his right arm to try and deflect the blow.

He watched in confusion and then horror as Dean didn't lower the knife but instead wrapped his free hand around it, crimson dripping forth almost instantly, trickling down Dean's clenched hand and beneath the sleeve of his coat.

"Well, I tried that," Dean said almost bitterly. "Look at where it's gotten us." He uncurled his hand from the knife and said, "Then he said that if I couldn't save you, Sam…I was gonna have to kill you."

Before Sam could react, could even take in the words, Dean he slammed his bloody hand down onto Sam's chest.

He cried out and tried to pull back, but Dean was leaning over him, smearing his hand over his chest, pushing at the edges of the wound with his hand spread wide open, the two knife cuts meeting in a grotesque parody of a kiss. Sam wrenched his hands free and grabbed at Dean's wrist, trying to force it away, but he knew in his bones that it was already too late. Whatever was in Dean was now in him, too.

Maybe it's better this way, he thought darkly as he struggled. Maybe we should go down together.

Finally, Dean sat back on his heels, tilting his head to the side as if admiring his handiwork. "That oughta do it," he smirked.

Sam felt a shudder run through him. Dean had been willing to kill less than an hour ago to keep them safe, and now he'd almost gleefully passed the deadly virus on to the one human being Sam knew he would give his life to protect. "Dean, what—" His brain was whirling, wondering how long it was going to take before he started feeling the urge to kill, to take that knife and turn it on Dean or the doctor or the other helpless people outside who thought the brothers were here to save them, not turn them.

He wondered if he had enough time to grab Dean's gun and put a bullet in both of their heads. Dean would rather die than turn into a monster; Sam knew that as well as he knew it was true for him. If he ever became aware of what he'd done to his little brother, he'd probably pull the trigger himself.

"Ah, ah, ah," Dean said admonishingly. "I know what you're thinking, bro. No playing with guns for you." He pressed his hand down over Sam's chest again and tossed the knife off to the side. "You're not going anywhere until I say so."

Sam stared up at him. His head was still pounding, but now there was the sour taste of fear in his mouth as well. He was sure it was only his imagination that was providing the streaks of heat he could feel spreading through his veins from the smeared-open cut on his chest. It had taken Mrs. Tanner a couple of hours to turn, so he had a while—or had she turned right away and simply bided her time until she could attack someone and spread the disease? Was he going to become like that, hunting down everyone else in the clinic and bleeding on them?

"Dean, please," he said, trying to keep his voice level. "Let me up."

Before Dean could answer, there was a shout from outside. Sam looked up to see Dr. Lee on the other side of the window, her mouth open and her eyes wide.

Dean started to rise, and Sam grabbed at his arm. "No!"

Dean shrugged him off and stood up, smoothly drawing his Colt and keeping his bloody hand down at his side. "Get out of here," he shouted at the doctor. "It's not safe!"

She pointed at Sam's chest, coated in red. "Is he—"

He raised the gun and aimed it Sam, glaring at him to keep quiet. The thought briefly crossed Sam's mind of trying to trick Dean into shooting him, but then he realized that it would leave Dean free to spread the infection through the rest of the clinic, and he couldn't do that.

"How long before I know if I'm infected?" Dean was asking the doctor. His hand was still down at his side, apparently not visible to the doctor if he was passing himself off as virus-free.

The doctor blinked. "Three hours," she called back, muffled by the glass but still clearly shaky. "No more than three hours."

"I can take care of him," he called, motioning at Sam with the gun. "Now go!"

With a frightened look at Sam, she obeyed, turning away and grabbing a nearby chair to jam it under the door handle before vacating the office.

"You're not going after her," Sam said, puzzled.

Dean smirked. "Got what I need right here."

Sam flinched as his brother lowered the gun and fired a bullet into the floor. As far as the doctor knew, he'd just been put down like a rabid dog.

Instead, Dean—no, the infected creature in front of him, not his brother, not anymore—was waiting for something. Sam had no idea what it was. But there was a clock visible in the outer office, and all he could do was start counting the minutes.

Eight of them passed before Sam stopped feeling like there was something crawling through his veins, which made him wonder if it had already spread or if his imagination had just gotten bored. Four more passed before Dean stood up and started pacing around the room, stepping over Sam's legs sprawled on the floor, humming something too off-key for Sam to recognize, occasionally pausing to cough or clear his throat.

Sixteen minutes had passed when Sam asked, "What did you mean about Dad?"

Dean rubbed the back of his hand over his forehead, leaving a smear of red against the sweat that was beading up there. "Just what I told you," he said.

Sam shook his head. "I don't believe you. It's the—it's the virus."

Dean gave a low chuckle. "You think I'm a demon or something now? You think 'cause demons lie, that explains it?" He shook his head and wiped his sweating cheek against his jacket-clad shoulder. "'S what he told me, Sammy. No more, no less." He coughed a few times, shaking his head.

"But what does that even mean?" Sam pressed. He could barely comprehend his father saying something like that. Awful as it was, thinking about it still beat the reality of a demonic virus creeping through his body, turning him into some horrible thing. He kept an eye on Dean as he paced, plotting how to grab the gun. There was sweat running down Dean's face. It was stuffy in this room, but not that warm, and Sam wondered dully how long it would take before he was overheated, too.

"Don't look at me," Dean said, throwing his arms wide. "I'm just the messenger." He coughed again. "Just Daddy's good little soldier, right?" His cheeks were flushed like he had a fever, and Sam frowned. No one they'd come across before had shown any outward symptoms of infection, just the compulsion to spread the disease. What was going on with Dean?

"Hey, man, are you—" Sam cut off as Dean's eyes rolled up in his head and he crumpled to the floor.

Shit! Sam scrambled forward, ignoring the glass shards on the floor. Dean had fallen at the base of the wall, no cabinets or tables to hit on his way down, the gun in his outstretched hand pointed harmlessly at the far wall. When Sam touched his forehead, he almost jerked his hand back, Dean's forehead was so hot.

He instantly started stripping off Dean's jacket, setting the gun aside even though his brain was telling him this was the best chance he was going to get to take the both of them out and keep the doctor and the others safe. He couldn't not take care of his brother, whose head was tossing back and forth as he groaned in his unconsciousness. Sam balled up the jacket and stuffed it under Dean's head, rising to fill an clean beaker with water before dabbing his shirt in it and wiping off Dean's forehead. The movement pulled at his own blood-stained shirt, sticking to the cuts in his chest, but Sam pushed back the reminder that this was all futile anyway and kept tending to Dean.

Fever and cough were two clear signs that the body was fighting off an infection, but why now? Why hadn't Dean fought it off when he first became infected? Sam sat back on his heels and looked up at the wall, blinking as he realized what the poster up on the wall depicted. It was a series of cartoon drawings of the immune system, showing little viruses and microphages and antibodies locked in battle. He shook his head and mopped at Dean's forehead again. It was like the virus's antigens were only now being recognized by Dean's body, only now triggering T-helper cells and B-cells and generating antibodies, Dean's immune system rallying too late against the demonic invader.

Another twelve minutes passed while Dean's temperature stayed high and he occasionally coughed but didn't rouse. Sam shed his own jacket, unsure if he was actually getting warmer or if it was his imagination again. He wasn't feeling any homicidal urges, but maybe his infected body recognized that Dean was already infected, too. Maybe if he went into the other room, he'd have the urge to pick up a knife and—

"Sam?" Dean muttered, his eyes fluttering open.

Looking down, all Sam saw in his brother's eyes was confusion. "Yeah, I'm here," he said quietly, wiping the sweat off Dean's forehead one more time.

Dean clumsily batted his hand away. "You okay?" he asked. "I thought for a moment there—"

He broke off as his gaze landed on Sam's bloodied chest, eyes widening in horror. Then he looked down at his sliced hand and went completely still. "Oh, God," he breathed.

For once in his life, Sam couldn't reassure his big brother that he was okay.

"Did I—" Dean looked up at him, stricken. The flush of fever was gone from his cheeks, but the fear in his eyes was even more upsetting.

"Yeah," was all Sam could choke out. He cleared his throat. "D'you know what happened? How you—" He gestured in frustration when he couldn't bring himself to say the words.

Dean was shaking his head, eyes still wide. "No, I—I have no idea. Sam, how could I?" He pushed himself back until he was sitting against the wall. "How could I do that to you?"

Sam furrowed his brow. The only answer was that Dean had been infected, but he didn't sound like it anymore. "How do you feel now?" he asked.

"How the fuck do you think I feel?" Dean snapped back, his eyes glued to the cuts on Sam's chest.

Rolling his eyes, Sam tugged his shirt closed. "No, I mean do you feel like you're, you know. Sick?"

"Do I have the urge to stick that knife into someone else?" Dean asked harshly. When Sam gave a small nod, he went on, "No. Do I have the urge to take my gun and put a bullet in my head? I'm thinkin' about it."

Sam cast a quick glance over his shoulder to where Dean's gun was sitting on the table. His own weapon was in the back of his jeans, forgotten as soon as Dean collapsed to the ground, but he no longer felt the need to use it on himself. Not when Dean was apparently normal again. "D'you think it wore off or something?"

"How the hell should I know?" Dean snapped. He drew his knees up to his chest in a defensive posture. "How do you feel?"

"I feel fine," Sam shrugged. "I mean, I don't know how long it takes, but…"

Dean rubbed a hand over his face. "Swell. Really fucking swell."

The pounding at the window to the outer office made them both jump. When Sam looked up, he saw Dr. Lee. "You need to come see this," she called through the glass.

Sam shook his head and pulled down the torn collar of his shirt. "It's not safe," he called back.

She grimaced but called, "Everyone's gone. The streets are empty. Everyone who was infected is just gone."


Five hours later, Dr. Lee pronounced them both free and clear of the mystery virus. They watched Sarge and Dwayne pack up and head out, then bade the doctor farewell as she headed back into her clinic.

"Well, that was fucked up," Dean said.

"Yeah," Sam agreed, leaning against the hood of the Impala, watching Dean closely. While they'd been waiting to hear the results of their multiple blood tests, with a series of arguments that meant his pre-law training had been worth something after all, Sam had been able to talk his brother down from anything seriously stupid like turning his Colt on himself. But he knew Dean would be carrying the memory of his failure for a long time yet, and Sam would be keeping an eye on him in the meantime.

"I don't get it. Why here, and why now?" Dean asked. "And where the hell did everybody go?"

Sam looked down at the ground, beginning to think aloud and not liking what he came up with. "Why was I immune?" he asked quietly.

"Yeah, you know what, that's a good question," Dean said, pointing a finger at him.

"Not only that, how did you get uninfected?" Sam asked as he raised his head to look at Dean.

"Maybe it ran its course," Dean shrugged as he looked away.

Sam shook his head. "Everyone else disappeared," he said, gesturing at the empty town around them. "But you—it's like your body started fighting it off after you tried to infect me. After your blood came into contact with mine."

"What, you're not only immune, you've got a vaccine in your veins?" Dean scoffed.

He was giving off I don't want to talk about this vibes as strong as Sam had ever seen, but this time, it was too important to let it go. "I don't know, but it makes sense," Sam said, spreading his hands wide. "Instead of spreading the infection like with everyone else, your immune system kicked into high gear. It's like there's something—" he broke off and cleared his throat. "There's something different about me. About my blood."

Dean was shaking his head. "It doesn't make any sense, Sam. We're brothers, for God's sake. We have the same blood. Why would it be different for you?"

"Why did Dad say what he did?" Sam asked, taking a step closer. "He knew something was wrong with me."

A muscle in Dean's jaw twitched. "There's nothing wrong with you."

"Then why won't you look at me?" Sam asked bitterly. The visions and the accidental telekinesis was one thing, but this was too freaky. He was freaked out, and he knew how Dean got bothered by this sort of thing. He wouldn't be surprised if Dean got in the Impala right now and took off.

Dean's gaze snapped back up to his. "There's nothing wrong with you, Sam," he repeated exaggeratedly. Then he must have seen the worry and despair on Sam's face, for his expression softened and he clapped a hand to Sam's good shoulder. "We're gonna figure this out," he said. "And I'm gonna keep you safe. I promise."

Sam stared back at him for a moment. "I know you'll try," he said quietly. After what had happened in the last few hours, that was all Dean could promise anyway.

Dean grimaced, but he gave Sam's shoulder a squeeze and moved away. "C'mon, we gotta see if we can find anyone else who survived."

Sam absently rubbed at the edge of the bandage over his chest as he climbed into the Impala. He knew full well they weren't going to find any other survivors, and Dean knew it, too. But the alternative was facing up to the fact that something was clearly different about him, something clearly wrong. Their father had known it, and Sam couldn't face up to that any more than he could deal with the fact that Dean had been lying to him about Dad's final words ever since the hospital.

So he stayed silent as they drove through the deserted streets of River Grove and on into the empty night.


( 48 comments — Leave a comment )
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Aug. 24th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
You wouldn't believe how excited I was just with the phrase Croatoan AU!

This was awesome and fit so well with it all. I like how you used actual dialogue then turned it into Sam's torment with his brother doing this but also trying to take care of him. &hearts
Aug. 25th, 2010 01:19 pm (UTC)

I didn't get to do as much with it as I wanted to, but it's an idea that's been kicking around for a while and this was a good opportunity to use it. Glad you liked it!
Aug. 24th, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)
Exceedingly powerful! A very plausible AU that still leaves the boys in the same painful place!
Aug. 25th, 2010 01:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm guessing things might have gone a little differently after this...but maybe not?
Aug. 24th, 2010 09:57 pm (UTC)
That as completely unexpected! I love that... well - I won't say what I loved, in case anyone reads comments before they read the story. I don't want to spoil them. But it was inspired!
Aug. 25th, 2010 01:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, go ahead, tell me. *chinhands*
(no subject) - harrigan - Aug. 25th, 2010 05:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zubeneschamali - Aug. 26th, 2010 09:00 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 24th, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC)
Oooh, I loved this! Sam's blood as a vaccine, awesome. I loved how they didn't learn anything new and ended up in the same place they did in the show despite the AU. Great read!
Aug. 25th, 2010 01:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I suppose things might have been different after this because Sam might not have taken off...but then again, who knows?
Aug. 24th, 2010 11:05 pm (UTC)
I was truly worried about Dean, wondering how he was going to get out of this. Vaccine. Very clever.
Aug. 25th, 2010 01:21 pm (UTC)
And probably unrealistic, but hey, it's a demonic virus, ya know? Glad you liked it!
Aug. 25th, 2010 12:18 am (UTC)
Nice AU--I really like your re-imagining of this. Intense, too. :D
Aug. 25th, 2010 01:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you! That episode was so intense, I'm glad you think I managed it as well.
Aug. 25th, 2010 01:59 am (UTC)
OHHHHhh... DEEEVIOUS... and there you found another use for your bingo-card, eh? well, well, well, then...
Sam and Dean are so ...*smishes*
Aug. 25th, 2010 01:22 pm (UTC)
I can multitask like you wouldn't believe. ;) Glad you liked it!
Aug. 25th, 2010 02:16 am (UTC)
What, you're not only immune, you've got a vaccine in your veins

Oh gosh, oh gosh. What a terrific idea. Please to be writing something longer about this, please.
Aug. 25th, 2010 01:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It does open up a lot of possibilities, doesn't it...
Aug. 25th, 2010 09:12 am (UTC)
Hm. Well-written and interesting - as per usual - but I have a couple of quibbles. You're implying that the virus - personally, I think some sort of sulphur-based demonic antigen - was fought off by antibodies that Dean acquired from Sam's blood. Then the term "vaccine" is a little iffy, considering that vaccines are given for prophylaxis more than treatment. Yeah, this is a case of passive immunisation, but considering how far the infection's progressed in Dean, I'd think the antigen-antibody reaction would be hell of a lot stronger.

But then again, it was a demonic virus in a show about the supernatural, so what the hell. :p

Apart from my pretentious rambling up there, I loved this! A refreshingly different take on how it could've gone. :)

Interestingly enough, I too used the antigen/antibody/vaccine thing as a major plot-point in one of my stories. Glad to know I'm not the only one who thought along those lines. :)
Aug. 25th, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC)
Quibble away! I don't mind it at all, since I do have the "demonic virus" explanation to fall back on, LOL. Glad you liked it despite the quibbles. :)
Aug. 25th, 2010 09:15 am (UTC)
What an awesome spin on the events of Croatoan. Fantastic idea, really well told.

Thanks for a great read.
Aug. 25th, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :D
Aug. 25th, 2010 03:44 pm (UTC)
Excellent variation on the theme! I love the shared responsibility here, and how the boys ended up taking care of each other. Just outstanding!
Aug. 26th, 2010 08:57 am (UTC)
Thank you! Boys taking care of each other is one of my favorite parts of the show. :)
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 26th, 2010 08:58 am (UTC)
Thank you! I like the idea that Sam's blood is good for something...poor Sam.
Aug. 25th, 2010 09:28 pm (UTC)
Oh so clever. I loved this. Croatoan is one of my favorite episodes. It told us so much about the boys. This AU was wickedly clever. Sam's blood healing Dean. Loved it!
Aug. 26th, 2010 08:58 am (UTC)
Thank you! I love that ep, too, and it was fun to rework it a bit. Glad you liked it!
Aug. 25th, 2010 11:13 pm (UTC)
Really, really interesting fic. You took this ep and ran with it--and I like it :)
Aug. 26th, 2010 08:59 am (UTC)
Ha, I know I kind of pushed the boundaries there...but I'm glad it was acceptable. :) Thanks for organizing the challenge!
Aug. 30th, 2010 03:28 am (UTC)
Damn...that was intene, honey! Whew!!

Aug. 31st, 2010 10:33 pm (UTC)
It was an intense ep, so I'm glad I was able to keep it up in my version. :)
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