"Here they are".
Bobby and Tom were waiting outside the house when the Impala pulled up. The look on Sam's face told the two men everything they needed to know.
They could see Dean curled up on his side across the front bench seat with his eyes closed and his head resting in Sam's lap. From the livid flush of his face, rapid panting breaths and the vomit stains on Sam's jeans, it was clear he was in bad straights.
Sam leaned out of the open window, the fear on his face was palpable; "He's burning up," he yelled, "he's so hot, and he's not talking sense; I think he's delirious".
Tom reached in and laid a palm across Dean's forehead. "Jesus" he muttered when he felt the heat radiating from the glistening face. "Dean" he called softly, "Dean, can you hear me."
The response was no more than a shaky moan. "S'my?" Glassy, unfocussed eyes stared up at Sam, closing as his brother's large hand reached down and gently stroked his cheek.
Tom looked at Sam and across at Bobby. "We need to get him in the house now."
Sam stared up at the two men from his position in the drivers seat, pinned under his barely conscious brother. "Please help him Tom," he pleaded, "he's real bad; he keeps saying he can't feel his legs."
Together the three men manoeuvred Dean out of the car allowing Sam to slip out from underneath him, and take his brother back into his arms; Tom noticed the stains on Sam's jeans.
"He was sick?"
"A couple of times, yeah," Sam replied; "that's why I put him in the front with me, I was afraid he'd choke." Sam looked down at Dean's head resting on his shoulder, he could feel the increasing damp heat radiating through Dean's T shirt, and hear his soft moans muffled against Sam's shoulder. "He's in such a lot of pain, please Tom, you gotta help him."
He looked back as Tom and Bobby followed him up the stairs, "I covered the bite up, like any bleeding wound, and I did what you said", he continued, "I lined the pad with the Lyndworm's blood, hopefully it's got a little bit in his system".
Another pained moan escaped his brother, "sorry dude" whispered Sam, gently laying Dean on top of the bed, taking time to stroke his damp hair back from his sweat slicked forehead. Tom nodded his approval, and lifted the T shirt to look at Sam's handiwork.
"We need to cool him down," Tom announced gravely, "Sam, help me get him undressed."
Bobby fussed and fretted, opening windows and plumping pillows, while Sam and Tom gently worked Dean out of his sodden T-shirt and jeans, a job made more difficult by the elder Winchester's fretful squirming; they both tried hard to keep the distressed hunter calm. Sam looked up at Bobby and was horrified to see tears pooling in the older man's eyes. Despite his own despair, he tried for a reassuring smile; "Hey Bobby, why don't you go and get us some water so we can cool him down?"
Sam watched Bobby go, then turned back to Dean, squeezing a clammy, hot shoulder, as Tom inserted a thermometer into his ear; Tom talked softly to his patient as he waited for the device to beep.
The beep confirmed news they suspected; Tom looked at the device; "crap, it's over 104." He rubbed a hand over Dean's drenched forehead, "OK son, hang in there" Tom reassured kindly, "we're gonna make you more comfortable now." Sam reached up and stroked his brother's clammy face.
Dean fidgeted miserably, turning to face Sam, "S'my, hur's" he whispered, leaning into Sam's touch.
Bobby re-entered the room with a bowl of water and some facecloths; "how is he?" he asked hopefully; face dropping as Sam and Tom stared forlornly back at him.
Without hesitation, Sam took the bowl and sat himself at Dean's shoulder, taking the cloth in hand, he stroked his brother's pain-tensed face. "Hey dude", gonna cool you down now". He wrung out the cloth, and lightly wiped it across the front of Dean's shoulders.
The three men jumped as Dean bucked wildly against the touch. "take it 'way," he moaned.
"What's wrong, bro' does it hurt?" Sam stopped, terrified as Dean fought weakly against his touch.
"Keep going" Tom looked across at Sam, "he's so hot, it probably feels uncomfortably cold, but you've got no choice, we've gotta get that temp down".
Reluctantly, Sam brought the cloth to bear again against his brother's face and neck, grimacing as Dean flinched under the cool touch. "Sorry bro', but you gotta trust us, this will make you feel so much better."
Bobby, took another cloth and sat at Dean's feet. He began to wash down his legs with the cool water.
Dean flailed and kicked weakly, "hur's, go 'way," he cried hoarsely.
Sam hesitated once again, but Tom nodded sternly; "carry on".
Sam watched as Tom undid the large pad of gauze that he had strapped tightly around Dean's midriff; taking a cloth, Tom used the cool water to wash away the crust of dried blood, both his own and the Lyndworm's that coated his abdomen.
Dean bucked and fought as Tom worked, crying out as he palpitated the wound. Sam cringed at the sound and clutched the top of Dean's shaking head, working long fingers through his damp hair. "Shhhhh, it's ok dude, Tom's just trying to help." He stroked and kneaded his brother's hot scalp.
Sam looked over and was shocked to see grey streaks radiating out across Dean's belly from the bite.
"What's that?" he looked at Tom with alarm.
"That's the venom working it's way out from the bite through his bloodstream." Tom traced the marks with his fingertip, looking up at Sam; "keep doing what you're doing, I think it's working, he seems to be calming down a bit."
Dean was indeed calmer, but suddenly, now he seemed too still and deathly quiet. Sam didn't like it; at least when Dean was moving around and protesting, Sam could tell he was alive. He placed his palm on Dean's chest to feel his weak and rapid heartbeat, watching the shuddering rise and fall of his brother's chest.
Tom spoke up and startled him. "just under 102; well done, temp's down, but we don't want it going up again – keep at it!"
Sam sat, absently rubbing the cool cloths over his brother's body, watching as Tom carefully but thoroughly examined Dean.
Eventually, Tom folded his stethoscope up and turned back to Sam.
"We need to start getting some of that thing's blood into him, did you manage to bring some?"
Sam nodded. "It's in the back of the car in a couple of big jars, I wasn't sure how much you wanted, so I just sliced through it's neck and drained what I could."
"I'll get it" came a voice from the end of the bed.
Bobby had been so quiet, working methodically on Dean's legs that Sam had almost forgotten he was there.
As Bobby disappeared, Sam looked up to Tom.
"Bobby said you've treated a Lyndworm bite before."
"Yes, that's right," Tom replied, "about two years ago."
"How did it go?"
Sam noticed Tom look away. The cheerful brown eyes that gave him such an honest and open disposition suddenly looked unusually shifty.
"Uh, well, the thing is Sam, he wasn't a young man. Not in the best of health and…"
"He died?" Sam saved Tom the trouble.
Tom saw the look of despair cross Sam's face, tears filling his eyes, as his hand moulded itself to the contours of his brother's face.
"How do we know this is gonna work?" he whispered.
"Honestly? We don't," Tom stated gently but directly, "this lore is all we have to go on". He looked at Sam intently, "but I am going to work like hell to fix your brother; I'm not gonna lose another one."
Both men looked down at their quiet patient. The fevered flush still very much in evidence across his face and chest, the rest of his shivering body a sickly grey pallor.
Bobby returned to the room, a jar of black sludge in his hand, Sam looked at it with revulsion; the memory of slicing the Lyndworm corpse open to bleed it fresh in his mind. He swallowed back a wave of nausea, closing his eyes, and managing to regain his composure until he opened them again and saw the size of the needle in Tom's hand.
"What the hell?" he asked.
"Yeah" Tom replied apologetically; "this stuff's like treacle – it would never move freely through a regular syringe; this is the biggest one I have. I'm going to inject it into the wound, straight into the point where the venom was injected".
Sam suddenly felt weak; he hated himself for it when Dean was suffering so badly, but Tom noticed it immediately. He held out a steadying hand, and sat Sam down on the other bed, "You ok?"
Sam nodded unconvincingly, and breathed deeply, still fighting a spinning nausea; it was Bobby that caught him as he sunk into a dead faint and toppled off the bed.