Day 8

Title: Day 8
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Supernatural
Rating: G
Disclaimer: Not my characters! I make no money from this.
Summary: Sam and Dean get trapped in a cave.
Notes: Written during my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2012 project for Lady Korana

“It’s just the sniffles.”

“Yeah,” Dean muttered. “You keep telling yourself that.”

Sam knelt at the mouth of the cave, pawing at the snow that blocked the entrance. The cave system stretched far back so there was no risk of running out of air. Running out of food and water and warmth and light, on the other hand, were more pressing concerns. Which is why Dean was kneeling beside him, trying to start a fire.

“Now? Really, now?” Dean flicked his lighter repeatedly, shaking it, caressing it, talking sweet to it, swearing up and down. “Work damn you!” He sucked in a breath through gritted teeth and flicked it again. Mercifully, the sixty-fifth time was a charm and a flame sprang up. Quickly he lit a small stick on fire and used it to light the other twigs and bits of cloth. Those burned a little, but the three somewhat-dry branches weren’t catching yet.

Giving up on digging through the snow, Sam hovered over the fire, worried about its fate. And then his nose twitched. The sneeze came from nowhere. “HUTTTTTchhhhuhhh!” The fire suffered. It flickered and almost went out completely.

Dean dropped down to his side, lying on the dirt floor of the cave, and began blowing on the fire. Small puffs of breath fed it and between that and the kindling, the fire sprang back up again and started on one of the branches. Dean sighed with relief and sat back on. “You had to sneeze then?

“Sorry,” Sam sniffled. He had moved back a little so it wouldn’t happen again, and he hugged his arms around his middle, cold. “I didn’t realize I was going to sneeze.” This time, he realized it, and he turned away from the fire. “huhh-Huhshhhhh! Hutchuhhh! Hihtchahhh!

“Yeah,” Dean sounded mildly sympathetic. “I know. Just try to keep that nose of yours away from my fire, okay? We’re short on wood as it is. And your sneezes have done enough damage for one day.”

Dean was of course referring to the fact that the entrance was entirely blocked by snow. Sam looked around at the cave, now bathed in flickering firelight instead of the flashlights with batteries that were almost dead. The cave was enormous but still not the place you wanted to get stuck in. “I really dod’t thig that avaladche was edtirely by fault.” Yes, he had sneezed just before the snow had come down the side of the mountain. And, yes, his sneeze could be pretty damn loud sometimes. But to bring a whole mountain of snow down upon them just by sneezing?

“It wasn’t your fault,” Dean said. “I think it was the damn warlock. If it’s anything I hate more than witches it’s warlocks. That’s not what I was talking about.”

Ah. So Dean was referring to the fact that Sam had sneezed and given away their position earlier while on the hunt. It was hard—if not impossible—to hunt something when it knew exactly where you were thanks to sniffles and sneezes and coughs. “Sorry about the hudt,” he said, rubbing his wet mitten-clad hand at his nose. “But it’s your fault I have the sniffles.”

“I didn’t tell you to look after me when I was sick.”

“I would have caught it adyway. You sdeezed, like a hudred tibes, id the car.”

“Yeah, but you didn’t have to wake up twice a night to give me medicine like some over-protective… Sammy?”

Sam had a faraway look in his eyes. Then he pitched forward with his eyes tightly shut. “hahhPishhtttt!

Dean winced. “What did I teach you about covering your nose when you sneeze?”

Looking completely embarrassed, “I dod’t hab ady bore Kleedex.”

Dean leaned forward and dug his bandana out of his back pocket. “Use this. Sparingly. Who knows how long we’ll be in here.”

“Do you thidk the fire will work to belt edough sdow?”

“Don’t know. But we’ll have some more drinking melted even if it doesn’t work.”

They’d talked about exploring the cave to see if there was an exit, and they’d gone about mile into it, but in the end Sam had been sneezing and shivering almost nonstop and the batteries of the flashlights had begun to dim. So they’d turned back. Luckily, the batteries held off just long enough for them to get the fire started. And the roof of the cave was so high that they didn’t have to worry about smoke if they stayed low and kept an eye on the fire.

Sam was shivering again, and there wasn’t anything Dean could do to warm him up. The kid looked completely miserable. The only good thing about this was that it gave them some time to rest before they took on that damn warlock again.

Looking like he was going to sneeze again, Sam had his hands up to his face again, bandana in hand. “hah-hah-UHFshhhhhh!

Dean rolled his eyes. “All right. Just lie down for a while. I’ll watch the fire.” 

Sam pulled Dean’s backpack over to use it as a pillow; Dean smiled as he saw his brother wrap one arm around it and he wished he had thought to stuff a blanket into it. Sam really did look pathetic when he was sick; freakishly big body trying to curl up but limbs sticking out everywhere. His nose and cheeks were red and the rest of him so pale. “You warm enough?” Dean asked, throwing another stick on the fire.

Sam took a long time to reply. Then, finally, he whispered back, “No.”

There was nothing more Dean could do but lie down behind his brother, pressing himself up close. He drew the line at putting his arm around the kid, but luckily he didn’t need to. A minute after he slid into place, Sam stopped shivering. And a minute or two after that, he relaxed. “Do you care if I fall asleep?”

“No, man. Go to sleep. I’ll watch the fire. And the snow. I’ll wake you up if something happens.”


Nothing happened. For hours. Dean fought to stay awake and to keep his legs from cramping as he lay in the same position on the hard ground. He tried every hour to get some reception on his phone, but the phone refused to show even a single bar, no matter what angle he held it at.

His watch told him it was late. Or, well, early now. Dean felt himself drift off and snap back awake a dozen times before he decided something had to be done. He nudged Sam. Repeatedly. Until Sam woke with a snort and a cough.

He seemed disoriented for a few minutes, until he remembered where he was and what was happening. And then he realized the most likely reason Dean might be waking him up. “Dean? What’s wrong? Did the fire work?”

“No…” His voice was weak. “Sammy, I’m having trouble staying awake.”

“Oh…” Sam sounded just as weary, like he was going to drop back to sleep any moment. “D’you want me to take a shift while you sleep?”

“No,” Dean replied at once. Then he laughed. “I mean, yeah. I want that the way I want pie and a hot tub, but I don’t expect it.” He broke off to yawn powerfully. His hand shook with cold when he cupped it to his mouth and he pulled it back to where it was trapped between his front and Sam’s back. “Could you just talk to me a while to keep me up?”

“S-sure.” His breath caught and even with that as a warning, he couldn’t get the bandana up in time. Moving more than he had to made him shiver with cold. “hahh-erschhhhh! Hah-Uhshhhh! So… uh, apart from my sneezing and the worst cold I can remember having, what do you want to talk about?”

“Oh, so it’s a cold now is it? I thought it was just the sniffles.”

Sam shivered violently and sniffed as his only answer.

Dean reached over Sam and threw another stick on the fire. It crackled and the fire happily began to devour it. They were running short on food for the fire already. They’d be lucky to make it until morning. Not that it mattered much if they couldn’t get out and see the sun.

“I’ve been thinking about all those survival classes Dad put us through when we were kids. Remember those? How to build a fire. How to combat hypothermia. How to melt snow into drinking water.”

“Never covered how to get out of a cave after an avalanche.”

“No,” Dean agreed, “Dad didn’t.”

“I… huh… huhhhhhhh…

“Cover your nose,” Dean told him, yawning again.

Sam turned his head but didn’t free his hand. “huhhh-Uhtchh!

The small fire flickered.


“S-sorry, Dean. Sniff! I’m just so cold I couldn’t move. Sniff!” He was quiet for a little while. “Remember that case in southern California?”

Dean grinned. “I remember it being warm.”

“Yeah,” Sam nodded. “Or that werewolf hunt outside of D.C. in August two years back? It was humid and over a hundred degrees every day.”

“That was so miserable. I sweated through two changes of clothes a day. Man, that’d be nice now.”


Dean winced. Even Sam’s sneezes were sounding weaker softer.


About a hundred warm memories later, they were out of sticks for the fire. The flames had died down entirely and there was nothing but red embers left.  With the batteries in the flashlights gone, the small glow of the fire was the only source of light left.

“Dean… I’m gonna… huhhh… sn-sneh…” Sam tried warning. “uhh-Hufshhhh!

“We have to get out of here,” Dean decided. “We should be able to tunnel through the snow eventually.”

Both of them got their knives out, chipping away at the snow and ice. The fire had made the snow soft enough in spots, but after about a foot in, it was too hard to get through with their gloves. So they went at it with knives, exhausted, hungry, near blind thanks to the darkness.

They were both acutely aware of the moment when the fire went out. In an instant it went from very difficult to see to impossible. Engulfed in darkness, they both stilled in their work for a moment. Then Dean found Sam’s side and moved in close to stay in constant contact. Sam pulled his arm back and bent it, linking it with Dean’s. “Hey,” Sam said into the darkness, his voice sounding both weak and too loud at the same time. “Guess I don’t have to worry about sneezing again, huh?”

Dean gave a light chuckle. “Sneeze all you need to, big guy, just keep digging.”


Dean knew perfectly well that it was pitch black in the cave, but he could have sworn he could see his hand in front of his face. When Sam held up a hand, however, Dean couldn’t make out how many fingers he was holding up. Dean couldn’t tell how far they’d gotten. Two feet? Three? Six? They couldn’t chip away in the same spot or they might accidentally hit each other’s hands. The last thing they needed was to have one of them lose a finger.


Too tired to talk, Dean grunted and stopped digging.

“I thidk… I hear subthig…”

Dean listened, too. But all he could hear was Sam sniffling. “This your new way of telling me you’re about to sneeze?”

“No. Sniff! It’s…” Sam jerked back, pulling Dean with him. There was a roar and a hiss and flames appeared before them like a dragon returning to its cave.

The flames went out as soon as they’d begun and their eyes stung as sun streamed into the cave once again. “Y’idjits get into some trouble?”

Dean rubbed his eyes and focused on what was before him. Baseball cap. Beard. Blowtorch. Broken warlock staff. “Bobby… but I couldn’t reach you on my phone.”

“When you didn’t check in, I had a guy get the last fix on your cell phone signal. Then it was just a matter of persuading a certain warlock to tell me the rest. You boys all right?”

They were cold, hungry, utterly exhausted. Dean couldn’t feel his legs, though they were holding him up so they had to be there somewhere. He felt numb from head to toe. “Fine. We’re fine.”


Dean grinned. “Although Sam’s got the sniffles.”