Oakhill Cemetery
Minneapolis, MN

"What the hell is it with this place? It's raining like there's no frigging tomorrow," Dean growled and glared out at the rain pelting the ground.

Sam sighed. "We don't really have a choice," he said and glanced sideways at his brother. "Or rather I don't have a choice. You can't do anything with that hand anyway, so you might as well just stay in the car."

If there was one thing Dean didn't like – and Sam knew that by heart – then it was to be sidelined like this. And there was no doubt whatsoever that Dean was in a rotten mood right now. "There's a troll body out there that's bigger than two of you put together. Tell me again how you're going to move the damned thing on your own?"

Well, he might be in a rotten mood, but he was also right. With a sigh, Sam acknowledged that they were both going to get wet again – not that he had really managed to get dry yet – and pushed the driver side door open. He climbed out, pulled his collar up and closed the door behind him. A moment later, his brother followed suit and he managed to mutter under his breath the whole way to the trunk, while they got their gear together, when he closed the trunk lid and while they walked back into the cemetery, their boots squelching along to the litany.

Sam knew that it did no good to ask Dean what he was muttering about. Sometimes, he just talked. It had actually taken him a few years to realize that not everything Dean said had meaning. Whether it was a way for him to get rid of pent-up emotions or something that calmed him down, Sam sometimes couldn't help wondering if he was trying to make up for that year right after mom had died where he hadn't spoken at all. Dad had once commented on it that way when Dean had been rambling on about nothing after a hunt.

With the rain and the darkness, it was hard to be sure, but once they arrived at the designated spot where they had left the troll body, they both stopped and stared. The branches and wilted leaves were still there. But the body of the troll was gone.

Sam toed the pile of leaves, unsure of what to make of the absence of the body, then strode over to the bushes he had hidden the head in only to find that this too was gone. He glanced back over at Dean, who stood there and got soaked while he kept staring at the spot where the body had been. "What the hell?" he finally asked and looked up to meet Sam's eyes. "Where's the body?"

"No idea. But the head's gone too," Sam countered and sent another look into the blacked-out greenness of the low shrub. The flashlight illuminated patches of green wherever the cone of light hit, along with what looked suspiciously like an oversized earring. Even though he really couldn't remember if the troll had been adorned with anything similar, it struck a cord and activated his mental library. "They dissolve," he muttered, then swung the flashlight back to the pile of leaves and branches. He strode back over to it, pushed a few of the branches away and noted the greenish sludge hiding underneath. "They dissolve," he repeated a little louder and glanced at his brother. "Like totally disintegrate if you keep the head away from the body after decapitation."

Dean kept staring at the pile. "Huh," he muttered. "That's different. A bit like vamps in Buffy, eh? Would be so much easier if you didn't have to make sure the body was salted and burned afterward."

"Yeah, I guess," Sam agreed. "Makes it easier to kill trolls too. We don't have to worry about cleaning up after them."

Dean sighed and glanced upward. "Is this frigging rain ever gonna let up?" he muttered. "Let's get back to the motel. I'm freezing," he added, turned around and headed back toward the car.

Sam shrugged lightly and followed him. There wasn't more for them to do here.


Comfort Suites
Blaine, MN

Low-budget motels weren't hard to find these days. With the population of the planet severely decreased, everything was oddly low-budget. Dean would have thought that everything would skyrocket, but maybe people were more sensible now. Maybe money wasn't everything any more.

With an annoyed grunt, he shed his soaked and dirty jacket, hauled shirt and t-shirt over his head in one go and headed straight for the bathroom. He couldn't really decide why his mood had hit rock bottom. All he knew was that he was grumpy, his hand hurt, he was cold and wet and needed a hot shower more than anything.

"Don't get the splint wet," Sam suggested, which made him stop short in the doorway to the bathroom. He turned around to face his brother and felt no need to dial down the annoyance.

"Mind your own business, Sam," he advised.

All Sam did was arch an eyebrow at him. "I'm just saying. It's not good for ..."

Dean held up his left hand, palm out. "Stop!" he warned. "Just ... stop, Sam. I'm not in the mood for this right now. I'm wet, I'm cold, my frigging hand hurts, and the only thing I want right now is a hot shower, a super-greasy meal of some sort and an early night. That's not too much to ask, is it?"

His attitude as much as his tone caused Sam to back down. "Okay, fine. Do whatever you want," he said and started to peel off his own sodden clothes. "Don't take too long. I'm not feeling much better," he added, his tone a little tentative.

Dean grumbled under his breath and disappeared into the bathroom, closing and locking the door behind him. He cracked his neck and shimmied out of his jeans while briefly reflecting on how obstinate the fabric got when it was wet. Then he stopped short and stared at the splint on his hand. How the hell was he gonna shower with this atrocity strapped to his arm? He eyed it for a moment, then shrugged, peeled the tape off and unwrapped the bandage, then dropped the splint on the edge of the sink. The suture was neat and tidy and wouldn't leave a scar if he could keep it still. But he knew himself. He couldn't keep still.

Ignoring the pain brought on by the painkiller wearing off, he stepped into the shower and spent the next twenty minutes just standing under the hot spray, allowing the water to relax sore muscles and bring some warmth back to his body. And then his mind started to wander. Grey eyes. How unusual was that? He couldn't recall ever having dated a woman with grey eyes before. That made Nurse Eden special in his book. And she was hot too. And she had a sense of humor.

Without thinking, he braced both hands against the tile and spread his fingers only to stop with a hiss. "Shit," he growled and pulled his right hand away from the wall only to see a spot of blood oozing down the white tiles. He turned his hand over and grimaced. That's what he got for thinking of her like that. A torn suture. With a sigh, he figured he might as well get this shower over with and get Sam to repair the damage.


After a quick shower and some clean and dry clothes, Sam felt better. But Dean's mood was still in the toilet, and now so even more than before because he had torn two stitches in his palm.

Sam eyed the damage done and sighed. "I can't fix this," he said.

"Sure you can. You just gotta re-stitch those two there," Dean shot back and pointed at the two torn stitches.

"Yeah, I know that, Dean. But I can't because we don't have the supplies. Besides, it's better if you go back to the hospital and have a doctor or a nurse do this. We don't have any painkillers either. I need to restock first and I'm not stitching that back up without painkillers." He met his brothers steely gaze dead on. "And you know why I wouldn't do that even if I did have the supplies?"

Dean's eyes narrowed. "No. Enlighten me," he growled.

"Because I really don't feel like being slapped upside the head for trying to help you, and with your mood right now ... forget it. Not happening. Go back and pay that nurse a visit," Sam countered, released Dean's hand, folded his arms over his chest and leaned against the back of his chair.

"You are such a girl sometimes, you know that?" Dean snarled, slapped a wad of gauze onto the still bleeding tear and wound a sloppy bandage around his hand.

"Whatever," Sam muttered. He was getting a little tired of Dean's mood already while he watched for a moment while Dean struggled with the bandage. Then he sighed, slapped Dean's left hand away and redid it. At the same time, he reapplied the splint and it surprised him somewhat that Dean didn't complain about that. "Now leave it on. And go see that nurse you're so hot and bothered about."

Dean made a face. "I'm hungry," he growled, grabbed his phone with his left and flipped it open. "I hate doing things with my left hand. I feel like I have no control," he griped while dialing some number.

"Who are you calling?" Sam asked.

"Takeout," Dean replied and proceeded to order food enough for five. He glanced at Sam. "Oh, and add a salad. Something healthy," he added and hung up.

Sam watched him quietly, reading all the signs that Dean always claimed he wasn't displaying, and wondered what was going on. "What's with you right now?" he asked after a bit of studying that gave him signs of distress, of anger, of fatigue, of pain – from his hand, he assumed, of a restlessness he recognized, but not from Dean. It was like watching a part of dad.

Dean fiddled with his phone for a moment. "I don't know," he admitted reluctantly. "I think I'm still a little jazzed from fighting that damned troll." He narrowed his eyes, his gaze locked on what he was doing yet still miles away.

"A little?" Sam couldn't help a smirk. "You're acting like you're high or something, like someone spiked your drink at a party. Are you doing amphetamines or something?"

That earned him a tight yet weary look. "No, of course not. I don't do drugs unless they're for infection or pain." He arched an eyebrow, scrubbed his left hand over his lips and sighed. "Which I could use right now. The pain-stuff. It's throbbing."

"Let's go back to Mercy," Sam insisted. "There's no sense in waiting until tomorrow. By then it might be infected and we don't have any antibiotics and ..."

"No," Dean cut him off. "I just ordered food and I'm not leaving until I've eaten. Just give me whatever we've got. And grab a bottle or two from the mini-bar."

It was useless to argue with Dean when he was in this mood. Whatever he decided was what would happen. End of story. With a sigh, Sam got up and grabbed the bottle of relatively mild painkillers and the required bottles from the mini-fridge. He handed both to his brother, then grabbed him a glass of water. "At least wash the pills down with water rather than booze," he said, mildly reproving.

Dean glowered at him, shook out two pills and dry-swallowed them, then struggled with the tiny bottle of scotch for a moment before managing to uncap it. With a pointed look at Sam, he downed its contents, then opened the second bottle and emptied that as well.

Sam shook his head, dropped down on his bed and flicked the tv-set on. Most of what was on these days were re-runs. The movie-factories of the world had slowed down considerably and the multitude of movies they had been used to had been cut down to a bare minimum. But now, six months later, the world as such had bounced back. People were going about their lives, a little more weary, a little more paranoid, but a lot more joined too. What was left of the human race had pulled together. Suggestions were that about half the human population of Earth had been eradicated during the time the demons had reigned – not that anybody was officially talking about demons, of course. The numbers were sad. A lot of blame was being lain on terrorists, on bacterial weapons, on germ warfare in general, but nobody was really pointing fingers at anyone. The threat, it seemed, had disappeared and nobody but a select few really knew what had happened. The rest ... well, they seemed happy in their ignorance.

The religious factions of the world claimed God had come down and smote the crap out of the evil that had befallen humanity. Sam knew better. It was a god, yes, or rather a goddess, but most Christians would not like that interpretation. A goddess, the goddess, the soul of the Earth itself, was living among them, unaware of her own importance, immortal and barren at the same time. All he hoped for was that her services would not be needed again. Not in his generation and not in the next. The idea of having a child that would be cursed with the same life he had lived made him shudder involuntarily. It was enough of an incentive for him to never consider settling down or starting a family now. The mere thought of the horrors the child could face made him abstain from even thinking about it.

That, however, did not subdue his need to stay in one place for a little more than a week at a time. The only place they would stay at longer was at Bobby and Grace's. The thought sometimes made him smile. The last time they'd dropped in, the house had looked vastly different. Order was key. Grace was a master at arranging things to make them take up the least amount of space and all Bobby's books were now ordered and easy to find. The older hunter had grumbled his dissatisfaction over having his collection disrupted, but Sam had noted that Bobby seemed pretty damned content on a whole. He wasn't nearly as gruff as he had been these days. Of course, that could be because Armageddon had been averted and things were as calm as they ever had been, but Sam personally liked to believe that his aunt had a lot to do with it as well.

"What are you grinning at?" Dean suddenly demanded.

"Nothing." But he kept smirking faintly while he watched a cartoon that wasn't even funny. "Just thinking about Grace and Bobby's books."

Dean stared ahead of himself for a moment, then finally cracked a smile. "Yeah, he was pretty much up in arms about that, wasn't he?" he agreed. "Although ... he finds things a lot quicker now. And how the hell did she even manage to stow it all away? It looks like she threw half his collection out, but he says nothing's missing."

"Guess Grace is just good at organizing stuff," Sam said with a light shrug.

A moment later, there was a knock on the door and Dean got up to get the food. They ate in silence, the tv blaring on in the background, and half an hour later, Dean was out cold while Sam did a little research on his laptop. Despite the decreased population of the world, the Internet was as hot as ever and so far they hadn't been anywhere where there was no connection. Of course, most of their jobs these days took place in the bigger cities.


Early the following morning

With a sluggishness that defied explanation, Dean slowly cracked his lids open and peered sleepily at what he could see of the motel room. He felt tired despite the early night and judging by the light seeping through the curtains, he'd slept through the night. He was on his stomach, face half buried in the pillow, and it took him a moment to assess his situation. Then he realized that his right hand was wet. "What the hell?" he muttered, raised his head and squinted at his hand, which had so far been dangling over the edge of the bed. "Aw crap," he growled and sat up. A quick inspection of the bed told him he hadn't brought his blood-soaked hand onto the covers, but there were spots on the carpet next to the bed.

"Dean?" Sam had woken up at this point and was squinting at him.

"Bled through," he muttered and sighed lightly. "Not a lot, but enough. I'm gonna head to the hospital to have this stitched back up."

Sam pushed up on his elbows, clearly still half asleep. "You want me to come?"

Dean glanced at him when he got up and couldn't help a grin. "Nah, I think I can manage," he said.

In part it did surprise him when Sam more or less collapsed back onto the bed and went right back to sleep, but he couldn't help smirking at it too. No matter how tough their lives got and how much crap they had to wade through to get to the other shore, while they were together their dynamic was frighteningly simple and Sam relied on what he said most of the time. He knew that if his intonation had been even vaguely different, Sam would have been up and moving in one second flat, but Dean wasn't worried and Sam knew it.

He took his own sweet time to finish and couldn't help wondering if Nurse Eden was working. It was probably not very likely, considering that she had been on duty the night before, but a guy could hope. And there was something oddly attractive about this woman, something he couldn't really explain.

A little concerned by his own thoughts, he stopped short and looked down at his hand, a frown furrowing his brow. Had he actually damaged the suture on purpose? Had it been some subconscious way of making sure he got to see her again? "Don't be stupid," he muttered.

"Wha'..." Sam muttered.

"Nothing. Go back to sleep. I'll be back in a bit. I'll bring breakfast," he countered. Sam muttered something unintelligible under his breath and burrowed deeper into the covers.

Dean smirked, grabbed the keys to the Impala and left the motel room. The morning was crisp, the sky was blue and he briefly stopped to inhale deeply. The reduction of the population of the world had meant a radical drop in exhaust gases and the air smelled fresher. For some reason, he suddenly recalled an old teacher's saying that every cloud has a silver lining. Well, nothing really was so bad that it wasn't good for something, was it?

With a sigh, he strode over to the Impala and got in to drive to the hospital while he continued to wonder why he was so hot and bothered by that lovely nurse. It made no sense, really. Except for the fact that she was hot and pretty and cute and seemed more than capable of giving as good as she got.


Mercy Hospital
Minnesota, ME

The wait was short and to his immediate surprise, she was there, a smile on her lips, her grey eyes sparkling in the artificial light of the waiting area. "Mr. Winchester. Back so soon?" Her tone was slightly mocking and he couldn't help reacting to it.

He held up his bandaged hand. "It's not feeling so good. I think something's wrong."

"Come with me, please," she said and led the way to one of the cubicles.

He settled on the examination bed and watched her. Women in general had his undivided attention, strong women, beautiful women, mysterious women, snarky women. He didn't really care that much. If the vibe was there and the woman was available and willing, that was all he needed to know. It wasn't a matter of being seen with the right type of woman, it was the mutual understanding that this was it and that was all that mattered. None of them sans one had ever made him think there would be more. None of them had expected more than he had been willing to give and he had expected nothing more from them either. But odd thoughts had snuck their way into his brain at an unguarded moment and like squatters, they refused to leave. He looked at her and such uncharacteristic thoughts like 'this could be the mother of my kids' snuck into his conscious mind and staggered him to the extent that he almost stumbled over his own words. Fortunately, he hadn't been speaking right then or he would probably have come off as the biggest moron of all.

Nurse Eden examined his hand closely after unwrapping it, while continuously dabbing blood away from where the suture had ripped. "What exactly did you do to rip this? You were wearing a splint," she finally said, her tone clearly conveying her confusion.

"Uh ... I don't know," he lied and grimaced. He was quick to subdue that expression when she looked up at him. Instead he smirked crookedly at her and shrugged.

She eyed him, her grey eyes so fathomless deep and intense that he felt he could lose himself in them. "You took it off, didn't you?" The prodding question would have earned any other nurse a snarky or sarcastic reply, but he just could not convince himself to get defensive towards her.

A part of him shook his head in wonder at how he responded to her. This was idiotic down to a T. He was behaving like a moonstruck teenager around her, something he hadn't been in ... well, ever.

"Did you take the splint off, Mr. Winchester?" she pressed, her tone a bit on the stern side.

He cleared his throat and glanced down at the oozing wound in his palm. Then he sighed heavily. "Yeah, I did," he muttered. "I can't shower with this damned thing on," he added defensively.

Nurse Eden narrowed her eyes at him. "Have you ever heard of a plastic bag?"

"It's my right hand," he tried.

"So what? I'm sure a bright guy like you can figure out how to handle a bar of soap with your left hand. You are not doing yourself any favors here. If this is not allowed to heal properly, you might end up with a serious scar that could hamper your use of this hand for good. And then how are you going to do your job?" Her tone was that of a reproving mother and for all intents and purposes, it worked because he ducked his head a little and avoided her stern stare.

"I ..." Fumbling for words was not what he did best. Usually he knew what to say, when to say it and how to say it. Right now, he wouldn't have been able to defend himself against any verbal attack, though.

Nurse Eden sighed lightly. "I'm going to have to re-stitch that," she said. "I don't think there's any damage done, but you really should look out for yourself more. I don't know what you do for a living, but judging by your callouses, I'd assume you use your hands a lot. I really don't think you want to hamper your ability to grip things properly with your right hand, do you?"

He felt like a chastised kid right now and was in part baffled by the heat rising in his cheeks. He didn't blush easily and usually only in anger. "No," he muttered, then pursed his lips.

She set about repairing the damage done, then put the splint back on and wrapped the whole thing up in a water-resistant elastic sticky bandage. "Do me a favor and leave it on this time, okay? Otherwise I will have to make a house call," she said.

Her tone surprised him. There was a pinch of snark in it that made him look up to meet her eyes. "Promises, promises," he said and gave her a careful smile. He had assumed that any and all chance he'd ever had with her was gone because of his own stupidity, but now he wasn't so sure. When she tried to step back, he clamped his left hand onto hers still supporting his right wrist. "How about you pay me a house call tonight?"

She stared at him, her eyes a bit wide, her pupils expanded. "Does that line actually work?" she asked and smiled vaguely.

With the utmost resistance he avoided a sigh. Then he leaned back a little and let go of her hand, which she retracted more slowly than he would have thought she might. "Obviously not," he said and gave her the equivalent of a rueful smile. "Can't blame a guy for trying, though. You're hot."

That in turn did unspeakable things to her face. The slightly rosy coloring of her cheekbones along with the almost sultry smile on her lips made him glad that he was as in control of his own libido as he was. This could have become awkward really quickly otherwise. "Why thank you," she said and turned away to get rid of the remains of the old bandage. He assumed she did this to compose herself as well. For a moment, she paused, then she glanced at him over one shoulder. "I'll be at Tony's tonight at eight," she said, then returned to her doings.

Overtly massive palpitations like this were not normal for him, but his heart fluttered in his chest like a nervous bird at the mere thought of seeing her again and he was a tad baffled by his response to her. She was hot, yes, and she had that nurturing thing going for her that he liked so much in women, but why the hell was he getting so worked up about her? It made no damned sense. He'd only just met her, after all, and he didn't generally respond to women this way.

"Uh ... I'm kinda new in town. Where's Tony's?" he asked, feeling a little out of breath and convinced that she noticed.

She smirked, pulled a pen from one pocket and dotted down the address on a snip of paper before handing it to him. "I fully expect to see you there, splint and all," she said, winked at him and left the cubicle.

For a long moment he just remained seated while his heart was beating a mile a minute, then he drew in a deep breath, slipped off the examination bed, grabbed his jacket and shrugged into it. There was nothing in Heaven or Hell that would prevent him from being at Tony's at eight this evening. Not even the end of the world would stop that.