I JUST ASSUMED.
THE FIC WAS STARTING IN MEDIAS RES.
Which I think says a lot about how much SPN I've read, and how experimental I think we have the capacity to be. Because like, part 2 of this fic began with Sam and Dean in the middle of a case, them having already had one encounter with the MOTW and Dean already being cursed, and them already scrambling through a formidable network of cave tunnels. And Sam was mentioning supporting characters they had previous interactions with and NOT ONCE.
WHILE I WAS READING.
Did I think I'd missed something. I just figured, yeah, monster, civilians, cursed Dean, okay! I'm on board! This makes complete sense to me!
I should note that I'm not saying this in a way that suggests Part 1 of the fic could or should be skipped, or that it didn't set up the case in an interesting way. I've now read it and it is also great! And I loved the fic, so I was extremely excited to get a surprise second helping of it. XD But man, self.
This is definitely why it takes Sam and Dean so long to notice when things are off about their lives, or they're just missing random chunks of time. They're so used to the uncanny that it's reflex to be like, "Yup, this is fine. This makes complete sense."
Anyway, y'all should totally read this fic, because it has a cool monster and a Dean cursed with sleep deprivation and like, pretty chill about it, and CAVES and hero mode Sam/great Sam POV narration, and is basically all of the things I love rolled into one. It also has lengthy sections describing the technical tribulations of navigating said cave, which is 100% my jam. Set in S2.
The author is anonymous right now, because it's for spn_summergen, but please do check it out! It's amazing and I adore it: Before I Sleep
Alternatively, you could be dumb like me and start with Part 2...