Title: She Who Entangles Men

Fandom: Supernatural
Prompt: A curtain!fic type thing. The boys are retired and Sam's still pretty messed up from the cage and, I don't know, won't go outside and freaks out at being touched and that kind of thing. So Dean gets him a cat, who also won't venture outdoors and gets scared really easily, and that seems to help a lot. The only problem is that Dean is really allergic, and the cat is ALWAYS in the house and trying to sit on him and sleep on his bed... But Dean puts up with it because it makes Sam happy.



She Who Entangles Men


It started because of a gallon of milk. Well, no, it started because the universe apparently hates the Winchester boys, but Dean noticed it because of a gallon of milk. Just before leaving for work at the garage one afternoon, he’d mentioned to Sam they were nearly out. He’d asked Sam to pick some up at the store. And he’d come home to find Sam standing by the door, shaking, not able to get his hand to reach out to the doorknob to leave.


Sam slept in his bed. Not with him, just near him. Because he couldn’t stand being touched. A single touch and he’d zone out for whole minutes and come to eventually with sobs and screams. The problem was that he’d started doing this even without being touched. It was worse at night, but he seemed to feel safer with Dean around. He didn’t shake so much or slip into his fugue state as often. So if that meant Dean had to give up his bed and sleep on the floor, it was worth it. And it just meant he had to sneak out of the bedroom in the middle of the night and search on the laptop for every PTSD coping mechanism that could possibly help his little brother.




And that was why he’d managed to drag Sam to the Humane Society to look for dogs. As a kid, Sam had always wanted a dog, and apparently his love for them hadn’t gone away with age. Now that they were settled and retired, there wasn’t any reason not to have one. Plus, he might realize that going outside a couple times a day to walk it wasn’t such a scary thing after all.


“How about this guy?” Dean squats down in front of the cage of a collie with a beautiful white and golden brown coat. “We could call her Lassie.”


“Not a good name for a boy dog,” Sam says, nodding to the sign on the cage. He doesn’t squat down. Instead, he eyes it suspiciously.


“Let him sniff you. He’s friendly.”


Sam puts his hand down and the dog sticks his nose through the cage to sniff. But just before the nose can touch him, Sam jumps and pulls back, his hand shaking even as he holds it to his chest.


“Okay…” Dean gets the idea and moves on. “This one?”


A tiny Yorkie yaps excitedly, spinning in circles and showing off the bright pink bow on its ear.


Sam winces and awkwardly cups his hands over his ears.


“Not that one,” Dean agrees, going to the next cage. “How about…”


A golden retriever bounds up to the front of its cage and jumps up on its hind legs, eager to greet its visitors.


Sam jumps back and brushes against the cage of a Rottweiler, who clearly doesn’t like company. The dog starts growling and the one next to it starts barking and Sam crosses his arms, hugging them to his chest, and closes his eyes tightly.


Dean sighs inwardly. They wait for the dogs to calm down again and for Sam to quit shaking. Eventually, Sam wipes a thumb under his eye and looks around. “Um, Dean, I need to find the bathroom.” Knowing that is Sam code for needing to be alone in a safe space for a few minutes, Dean sweet-talks the girl at the desk into letting Sam use the employee restroom. While waiting, Dean looks at the dogs on this end of the row. And he sort of falls in love with a scruffy brindle mutt who has mistaken Dean’s hand for a saltlick.


“Well look at that!” Dean hears a woman exclaim. He looks up, thinking she might be talking about him, then realizing he is alone on the row and hearing something from another room. “She’s the most skittish one we’ve ever had. She was abused by her former owners. Now she’s jumpy as anything and scared of her own shadow.”


Dean smirks. Boy, that sounds familiar all right. He continues to listen as the voice drifts down the hall.


“She’s never let someone pet her, not even the staff here. I’ve never even seen her come to the front of her cage. But it looks like she’s finally made a friend. What’s your name?”


There is a pause, then a somewhat shaky, “Sam.”


At once, Dean stands. Ignoring the whimpers from the dog who could have been his new best friend, he follows the voices through the hall, past the main desk, and into another hall of cages.


And there is Sam, sitting on the floor, with a tiny beige and gray Persian kitten curled up in his lap. Sam’s gigantic hand is just about the same size as the kitten, yet he pets with an impossible gentleness that makes the little kitten purr and knead her tiny paws into his thigh.


Sam raises his head and, realizing Dean is there, beams with delight.


Dean somehow manages to fake a polite smile back. “What’s her name?”


Sam’s excitement can hardly be contained. “Cas.”


Dean starts to look around, on instinct, for the telltale trenchcoat.


“No, that’s her name: Cassandra. But staff here call her Cas.” He strokes her chin with two fingertips and she sticks her chin out to encourage his touch. “Kinda like she was destined to be ours, don’t you think, Dean?”


Dean already feels his nose starting to itch.




Cassandra’s scared of everything. She’s scared of her new home. She’s scared of the big shoes the Winchester boys leave by the door. She’s scared of the high sides of the litter box she tumbles in and out of. She’s even scared of her food. In fact, she’ll only eat if Sam gets her a small bowl of milk and kneels down on the floor next to her as she laps it up with her exceptionally small pink tongue.




About two minutes after Dean lays his head upon his pillow, he realizes the cat’s been sleeping on it. His eyes itch and there’s a tickle in his throat that his tongue can’t seem to scratch away. Scrubbing at his eyes, he flips the pillow over and pulls the covers up just in time to muffle a sneeze. He makes a note to get some better allergy medication in the morning.




Cassandra clearly adores Sam. She follows him everywhere. She walks at his heels when he heads to the kitchen for breakfast in the morning. She curls up on his chest when he stretches out on the couch for an afternoon nap. She even follows him into the bathroom. That wouldn’t be too bad, except that Sam follows Dean everywhere when he’s home. Sam follows him downstairs in the morning for breakfast. Sam lies down on the couch when Dean collapses into the recliner to watch a football game on TV. But he stops short of going into the bathroom with Dean, which is good because it’s the only place Dean can be alone to sneeze into the crook of his arm and blow his nose quietly into tissue after tissue.




Sam clearly adores Cassandra. He carries treats for her in his pockets. He spends hours playing with fake mice and string and laser pointers. He starts growing catnip in a little container on the windowsill above the kitchen sink. And he lounges all over the house, letting her sprawl out before him for more pettings.




Dean is somewhat less fond of Cassandra. She makes his eyes itchy and red. She makes his nose ticklish and red. She makes his breath catch in his throat, makes him wheeze, makes him so congested he can’t breathe through his nose any more. But he refuses to let Sam see.




There isn’t anything Cassandra doesn’t shed on. Clean, folded laundry. Plates of steak and mashed potatoes. Cups of beer; he knew he should have stuck to bottles. There’s no escaping it. But after sitting in front of the television for an hour with his hand cupped to his nose and mouth, pinching his nose to keep from sneezing as the kitten perches on the armrest, Dean has had it. He gets up, and the cat follows him. He walks to the door, and the cat follows him. He opens the door and takes a few steps out, and the cat takes one look outside and bolts across the living room. She dives onto the recliner and curls up beneath Dean’s jacket. She’s Sam’s cat, and Sam won’t go outside. Dean doesn’t know why he expected anything else from Sam’s cat.


So Dean spends his one day off a week vacuuming the heck out of the living room. And the bedrooms. And the hallway. And the kitchen. And the living room again. There are two good things about vacuuming. First, it’s louder than Sam likes, so he always stays in another room when Dean’s cleaning. And the other is that the sound is loud enough to cover his sneezes. So he lets them loose into the crook of his arm, sneezing and sneezing and still getting no relief from the maddening tickle.




Feeling a sneeze coming on, Dean gets up from the couch and heads toward the kitchen. He ducks out of sight and buries his face in a dishtowel. He muffles eight rapidfire sneezes into it, head bobbing, body snapping forward. He leans back, glancing into the living room, but Sam’s stretched out on the couch with Cassandra on his chest, not suspecting a thing. He’s relaxed, petting her unconsciously, as she nuzzles his chin lovingly.




Occasionally, he can’t hold back his sneezes or hide them. Sometimes they come on too quick and too strong. Sometimes Cassandra will jump into his lap or prance across the table, brushing her fluffy tail beneath his nose. Sometimes he absolutely must sneeze in front of Sam. And at those times, Dean does his best to make up an excuse. Sometimes it’s pollen or dust. Sometimes he claims to be coming down with something. He faked coughs for hours one day to pretend he had a cold. And, yeah, it was sort of nice to curl up in bed with tissues and that green glop that knocks him out cold. But staying home with a fake cold doesn’t pay the rent. So he blows his nose in secret and holds back his sneezes whenever possible.




Dean’s nose won’t stop running. Or tickling. He’s not sure where Sam is, but Sam isn’t in the room with him, so Dean risks dragging his sleeve under his nose. But his sleeve’s got cat hair on it. Because everything’s got cat hair on it. And because he’s got a cat clinging to his lap. So his nose tickles worse.


His breath catches and eyes itch madly. He thinks about maybe taking a shower, but that would look suspicious in the middle of the day. He thinks about buying some sort of clip to just pinch his nose closed, but Sam would probably notice that. He thinks about just tossing little Cassandra out of the apartment and never letting her back in, but she really is good for Sam.


He presses his nose to his wrist. No good; the tickle’s still there. He tries holding his breath. No good; his breath races ahead of him, already out of control. He pinches his nose. No good; his nostrils flare wildly against his fingertips. “hff… hfffETShhh!” He holds both hands to his face, bandana between his nose and his palms. “huff-Shifffff! Ehshishhhhh!


Desperately, he tries to get them under control. But they’re just getting worse, not better. “hahhh-CHIFFFF! Ehehshhhhhhh! Ehhhtishhh! Kshhhhhhh!” He finally catches his breath, rubs his eyes, wipes his nose. One more sneaks up on him. “ehhh-KITSchhhhh!


Dean can’t imagine how Sam managed to not hear all of that, but his brother hasn’t made an appearance yet. Dean finally manages to extricate himself from under the clingy little furball and get a handful of tissues from the bathroom.


“Sab?” Dean calls out, sniffles, and tries again. “Sam?” Sam doesn’t answer.


Dean checks the bedrooms. And the kitchen. He even checks the closets. Sam’s a big guy and the apartment is tiny. So where’s Sam?


“Sam?!” He heads back to the living room, just to double-check. And, just then, then front door opens. Dean jumps as Sam walks in. Stunned, Dean stares at his brother. “Where were you?”


“Store.” Sam raises the plastic grocery bag in his hand and tucks his keys into his pocket. “Cassandra wanted milk and we were almost out.” As though it were the most natural thing in the world, Sam shuts the door behind him, pats Dean’s shoulder as he passes, and heads into the kitchen for a bowl.