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Title: Spring and by Summer Fall (God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise) Part 3a
Author: chartruscan
Characters/Pairings: D/C pre-slash, Dean, Castiel, John, Sam, Rufus, OMC, mention of Jody Mills, Andy Gallagher, Jo Harvelle, Bobby
Rating: PG-13 this part for mild language
Wordcount: ~3600
Warnings:  WIP, more heapings of self-indulgent hurt/comfort
Genre: AU, H/C, Whump
Summary:   He had never wanted his father's life of ranching. Years after returning as a former POW, Dean can think of nowhere else he'd rather be, and he'll do anything to keep his family and home safe.
Summary (Part 3a):  Dean's heroic rescue has unanticipated side effects.  Or, the part with tow trucks, cops, and idyllic family meals.
 







MEADE COUNTY SHERIFF'S REPORT
WEEK OF DECEMBER 25-31 2005
-A possible prowler spotted by the middle school.  An officer responded
-911 call reported burglers, officer on the scene discovered raccoons stealing Christmas leftovers
-Concerned citizens report drug use, sheriff's department arrests three
-Party broken up in Howes up after complaints from neighbors, thirteen instances of underage drinking, parents were notified
-Vandalism reported at Morningstar ranch near Perkins County, officers investigating
-Vagrant was reported sleeping outside a Faith downtown business.  The man was told to go home





Dean drifted halfway awake sometime after breakfast, curled with his back to the fire.  He kept his eyes closed as he distantly noted the quiet shuffle of feet and the front door gently opening and closing several times.  Someone entered the room and he heard his father's familiar breathing pattern come near; felt a hand on his brow briefly before John shifted a little ways away.   Heard him murmuring quietly and cracked open his eyes just long enough to see his dad was sitting on the coffee table speaking to the doctor, asking if he needed to call anyone, family, the agency perhaps?

Dean's interest peaked a little; some suspicious part of him waiting for the doctor to decline, as if the agency he claimed to work for might out him for the imposter that he was.

He didn't know why he doubted the doctor's veracity, but something seemed off.

But then Cas said that, yes, it would be a good idea to call his employers, let them know they needed to find yet another replacement for Dr. Shepard.  However, he didn't say if there was anyone else to notify about his situation, which Dean found more than a little tragic as he fell back asleep.




It was eight-thirty in the morning on the sixth of January when Jody Mills pulled up in her cruiser on the main drive to the Winchester homestead.

"I'm getting sick of seeing your ugly mug, John," she greeted as she stepped out of the vehicle.  This was half true.

John replied, "Sheriff."

John, Rufus, and Gallagher were standing alongside the river where the ambulance van had veered off the driveway, sun an hour risen, clear and cold behind them.  Bobby stood at a distance, fuming, his towtruck parked up ahead.

"Please don't tell me I drove up all this way for a petty dispute," she said, her patience wearing immediately thin when it came to John and Bobby.

"I ain't going in there," Bobby said firmly.

Jody raised an inquiring eyebrow at John.  He looked tired.

"Goddmanit Bobby--"  John pulled off his stetson silver-belly and gestured angrily with it, ripping his furied focus away from his stubborn sometimes-friend.  "Sheriff, there's battery acid, fuel, oil, anti-freeze, and lord knows what kind of biohazards leaching into the water my cattle drink, water my family drinks, so if you could so kindly ask this two-bit grease monkey to do his job . . ."

"Got no problem towing, Sheriff," Bobby quickly interjected. "But it ain't in my job description to go into subzero water to rescue a hunk of metal."  Bobby stated this clearly, although his bravado seemed to wither under her level gaze, replaced by a blush of shame.

John called bullshit on this statement, that Bobby was changing his story.  

Jody lived halfway between Newell and Mud Butte, an hour and a half's ride to the Winchester ranch, and the Sheriff's Department office lay an hour in the other direction in Sturgis.  She'd been down in Blackhawk, almost to Rapid City, when she got word of the accident the night before.  If she hadn't wanted to make sure that the county's only traveling doctor was alright, she'd be truly pissed about getting a call before she'd even stepped out the front door this morning.  The police presence being stretched thin in a county this size was putting it delicately.  Bobby liked to call it ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag.

Jody turned back the ranchers, giving them a assessing look.  "I see three perfectly healthy men who seem intelligent enough to be able to hook a chain to an axel."

"Oh hell no," Rufus muttered as John said,  "Bobby Singer, you sonuvabitch."

"Uh, guys," scruffy, unkempt, lazy Gallagher spoke up.  "John, Mr. Winchester.  Sir.  Whatever.  What if, say, I were to go down and freeze my balls off, and then, like, you would give me the rest of the day off.  Paid, of course."

And that's how Rufus ended up lowering Gallagher down with a rope from the truck while Jody took John aside.

"How's the doctor doing?" she asked.

"Well enough.  We had Dr. Stevens take a look at him.  Might be laid up a bit, though. We're seeing to him in the meanwhile."  Jody nodded, trusting John enough to not push further.  He pulled a familiar envelope out of his jacket and quietly handed it to her.

"So not just for a petty dispute, then?"

John shook his head.  She sighed wearily and pulled out the photographs, seemingly all of a section of the same fence, except for how the background kept changing slightly.  "Shit, John."

Down in the river was a series of splashes and Gallagher shouting,"Holy shit! Oh shit ohshit that's cold!"

"Five hundred feet of fence cut, fifty feet of split rail pulled down, across two hundred acres, all told."

"Anyone get out?"

John smiled, albeit a little sadly, "Just one.  Mary's old show horse.  You don't have to worry about stampedes."

Rufus was hauling Gallagher back up, and the poor kid ran straight for the cab of the idling pick-up, still streaming a litany of obscenities in his boxers, boots and clothes clutched in his arms.

"Well, that's alright then," she said in relief.  "Well, you know--"  John nodded, waving away her apology.  They'd both lost spouses, and thoughtless comments about the relics of the ones they'd lost were old hat.  Even if it still stung.

She tapped the envelope against her hand.  "John," she began. "I'm not saying you should stop documenting these attacks on your property, but unless there's something more to go on, you know the only thing I can do is file this."  With an entire county to sheriff, and the extent and frequency of the vandalism to be documented at the Winchester ranch, they'd fallen into a routine of John collecting what little evidence there was, and Jody filing the reports as if her department had actually taken the photos itself.  There was simply no time for a proper police investigation, especially when they both knew there was no solid evidence.  She'd show'd John what to look for after the third incident, what to photograph, what to notate, and left him to it.  John had no time to play tour guide to the deputies, and the deputies had no time to tour.

"Even if--"John shook his head in frustration. "Even if I wasn't bleeding money with the repairs and my insurance jumping through the roof, even if I could somehow afford to get cameras on every acre, you know it'd just be some damned kid the Belial's paid in cash."

Jody nodded sympathetically but cautioned, "You know,  I know --hell, the whole damned town knows-- that Luke Belial's been after your land, but you breathe one word of this in the wrong ears and he's got you for defamation and he'll sue your farm right out from under you."

John tensed for a moment, shoulders stiffening and his face drawing tight.  Then he sighed through his nose and smiled tiredly, "Yes, ma'am."

The sound of the winch moving put a close to their conversation, and they turned back to watch as the water sluiced off the undercarriage of the van as it rose out of the river.  Bobby hollered for them to clear out as he raised and slowly swung the boom towards the road, the tow truck briefly rocking back onto it's rear tires, and soon the van was dangling nose down over the road, water pouring out the single open window as it slowly twisted, revealing the crumpled roof.

John was reminded of one of the many times he'd been to the slaughterhouse.

When the worst of the outpouring was over, Bobby hollered them back and John and Rufus got the van spun so that it landed on it's tires, the slack crunching the nose only superficially.  

Jody left when she was sure no one would be receiving crush injuries and put the envelope on the passenger seat, making a mental note to file it in the drawer reserved solely for complaints from the Winchester Farm.




Dean half-woke up around noon to the sound of his father and the other ranch hands clattering around in the kitchen. His whole body ached like he'd taken on a football team of sumo wrestlers, and that image didn't help the nauseau that twanged at his stomach.  He burrowed back down into the blankets only to come fully awake when he felt a shove on his shoulder.  He blinked his eyes open to the sight of Sam looming over him, nudging him with the end of his crutches.  It hurt.


"Dude, you've been asleep for fourteen hours."

Dean whacked at Sam groggily, catching the hard plaster on his right leg with the back of his hand.  "Ow."

Sam snorted and swung off towards the kitchen.  

Dean could smell chili and his stomach growled. Sam would hog all of the sour cream if he didn't get there soon, so he extricated himself from the blankets.  His feet hurt as soon as he stood, and he sat down heavily on the coffee table, feeling off-center; rattling an empty bowl and spoon, sloshing a half-full glass of water, and sending a bottle of ibuprofen rattling onto the floor.  He glanced right and noticed that the doctor was sitting up on the couch, head resting against the back cushions, eyes cracked open a sliver, regarding his bull-in-a-china-shop impression with passive annoyance.  Dean chose to ignore him and yanked off his socks.  There were the shallow scrapes on the top of one foot from when he'd anchored himself on the van, and other shallow cuts on the bottoms of both feet.  He'd cleaned and bandaged them the night before, but a few looked a little inflamed now.  He'd slap some more antibiotics and fresh bandages on them after lunch; no need to worry about putting weight on them if he planned to be in the saddle.  He stole another glance right, feeling the hairs on his neck prickling.

"Dude, that's a little creepy."

Cas didn't stop staring, eyes half-lidded.  He blinked slowly but didn't look away.

Dean shook it off and picked his socks back up from where he'd tossed them on the floor.

"I apologize," Cas said suddenly, seriously.

Dean looked over in surprise, socks in hand.  He noticed that Cas was dressed differently than the night before, his white henley and jeans actually fitting.

"For staring like a spook?" he asked.

Cas didn't say anything for a long moment, then his eyes slid down to Dean's bare feet.  He looked back up when he said, "You're hurt.  You have a fever.  Because of me."

Dean slapped a hand on the doctor's left knee, "I'm fine, Doc.  Just a few scrapes, I've had worse."

The doctor lifted his head and cast an irritated look at Dean, at Dean's hand.  "You are not--"

Dean quickly withdrew his hand and pulled his socks back on.

"Dean," Cas warned, but the other man stood, gathering up the empty bowl and offering Cas a reassuring smile.

He hobbled stiffly into the kitchen, setting down the dirty bowl and picking up the last clean one for himself.  With chili in hand he groaned when he found barely half a spoonful left of the sour cream and shot Sam a dirty look.  Sam smirked and dug into the milky swirl of pale orange that was an insult to chili everywhere. "You snooze you lose."

Dean snagged his crutches and put them out of arms reach.  Jo pulled out another pint from the fridge and gave Sam back his crutches.  He missed the amused affection on his father's face when Dean asked him to pass the shredded cheese.
"Who cooked?" he asked as he blew on a spoonful.

"I did," Jo answered proudly.  Dean grinned in approval, taking a bite.

He'd known Jo since they were in diapers, gone to school together even though they were more than several years apart; in a town that small, school meant a double-wide trailer full of fifteen kids between fourth and eighth grade.  Jo had already rooted herself into the Winchester ranch during the three years he'd been gone, a fixture he'd had to adjust himself to when he'd come back from Iraq.  Her mother hadn't approved.  But when the family business was acting as a hunting guide and serving alcohol to those same fools, Ellen hadn't much of a leg to stand on when Jo had set her heart on ranching.

Sitting at the long table with Jo, with his father and brother, with quiet Tate, and even surly Rufus, it was moments like this when Dean was happiest.

There was a line in Dean's life, before and after his Apache was shot down.  The one absolute constant on both sides of the line, besides his father, was Sam.  Except Sam was new now.  In Dean's absence, after the Before, but before the After, Sam had said his goodbyes.  Sam, at the dinner table, was simultaneously a beautiful sight and an anomaly.  Sam should be gone.  Sam should be in school.  It was January and a new semester had begun, and as much as Dean coveted the time he had with his brother, it still felt wrong.  He shouldn't have this time, these moments, except for a mistake and an accident that Dean regretted and yet couldn't even remember.  He was so fucking happy to have Sam back, how could it be wrong?

Mealtimes were some of the happiest times in Dean's life in the After, but he couldn't help but feel a pang of guilt that Sam was forced to be there.  That he was happy about it.

He swallowed his smile and plastered on a fake one.

"Where's Gallagher?" Dean asked around a mouthful of chili from his second bowl, still trying to fight off the cold in his bones.

"Took a dunk in the river, sent him home." John replied absently, lost in his own thoughts.  "Bobby got the doc's van out this morning.  He's gonna take a look at it when he gets a bay free.  Thing iced over before he even finished securing it."

Dean nodded and noticed the black bag the doctor had with him when he first came to see Sam thawing out next to the woodstove.  He cast a furtive glance back towards the living room.  "So I guess we're keeping him around?"  He kept his tone neutral.  Sam stopped whatever conversation he had going with Tate to look up with interest.

John's stern gaze said This is one of those things we don't discuss at the dinner table, Dean.  "We'll see how things go."

Dean swallowed, "Yes, sir."  He shifted his gaze, found Sam's, a look of bemused puzzlement on his brother's face.  Dean knew he was out of line; the Winchester's prided themselves on their hospitality.  Even Sam, distant these past six years with higher education, knew that.

"You get Lady back yet?" he eventually asked, as Tate began washing up and Rufus packed the leftovers into the fridge.

His dad looked up at him, a brief flash of grief crossing his face before it hardened and he shook his head.  Dean nodded back.  Lady was his mother's horse, older than him and, just having turned thirty, still as agile and fit as horse half her age.  A true white with blue eyes.  His mother had been a rodeo queen; roping, barrel racing, lassoing.  She had been amazing, and Dad had never been the same since.

Soon everyone was heading off to their afternoon chores, his father settling back down at the kitchen table with paperwork.  Dean grabbed his barn coat off the hook where it had spent the night drying next to the woodstove and shrugged it on.

"Where you off to?" his father asked, looking up from a sheaf of insurance claim forms.

"Getting Lady in," Dean replied, pulling on his boots.

John grunted and went back to his paperwork.  

From the living room, Cas declared groggily, yet somehow imperiously, "Dean has a fever."

"Do not."  Dean protested on a huff of a laugh as his father's eyes zeroed in on him.  He shot a betrayed look into the living room, where Cas was sitting with his cheek resting against the back of the couch, managing to look intimidating even when he couldn't spare the strength to lift his head.

As Tate and Sam joined in with the concerned looks, John stood and came around the table to clamp a hand on Dean's shoulder.

"Seriously guys, I'm fine."  But his father was cupping his face much like Cas had done the night before and he didn't look happy.  Tate dried his hands and left the room.

John said, "You're warm."

"I'm standing right next to the woodstove," Dean countered.  His body betrayed him then with an unsubtle shiver.

Tate came back with a digital thermometer.  Dean sighed and snatched it out of his hand.  With a mouthful of cold metal he mumbled, "Hhfphee?"

There was a beep and a reading of one hundred point one degrees and Dean found himself grounded at twenty-six years old.

Dean hung his coat back up.  Sam laughed at him and headed to his makeshift bedroom.  Dean stalked into the living room and kicked off his boots, shooting a scowl at the doctor, who was unphased by Dean's ire.

Dean didn't see the flash of pain on Cas' face when he hissed, "Traitor" under his breath, too busy with wrestling the blankets back over him.

Sam emerged from the office and rested against the back of the couch and held out a book to Cas.  The doctor looked up at the younger man with his long hair and kind face, and reached up to accept it.  He turned it over like it was a miracle.  "I was reading this."

"Yeah, Dad found it when he put your stuff in the wash this morning."  Cas' hand went to his throat.  "Your copy was kinda trashed."

"Hey, that's mine," Dean interjected, lifting his head from the pillow on the floor.

"I apologize for Dean," Sam said.  "I hear he missed the 'sharing is caring' lesson when he was a toddler."

"Awesome," Dean said and rolled onto his side, the wall of his back effectively putting an end to the conversation.




Dean woke up on the couch, even though he was sure he'd fallen asleep on the floor.  He was cold.  The room was dim, the fire not only burned low
, but blocked by a shadow leaning over him.  Shivers coursed through Dean as he blinked up into the darkness.  Doctor Novak.

Cas sat on the coffee table, right leg angled out and away to keep his knee straight, one arm curled protectively against his ribs as he placed a cool cloth on Dean's brow.

"I think I have a fever, Doc," Dean said with a wry twist of his lips.

Dean couldn't tell if the doctor smiled, but his voice was warm as he said, "That you do, buddy."






 

Continue on to Part 3b






 

 

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