Day 2

Title: Day 2
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Supernatural
Rating: G
Pairing: None
Disclaimer: Not my characters. I wish they were mine. I definitely don’t get paid for this.
Summary: When John leaves right before Christmas, the boys seize their opportunity to finally have a normal Christmas.
Notes: Written during my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2015 project for cowboyguy

“Be sure to lay the salt line across the threshold after I leave,” John Winchester said, throwing his clothes into his dufflebag. 

“We will, Sir,” Dean said. Of course they would. Sam had learned how to put down a salt line before he'd learned how to draw a straight line with a crayon and paper. But there was Dean, the perfect son, saying what their dad wanted to hear. It was just easier sometimes, especially when John was just about out the door.

“I left some money in an envelope tucked under the Bible. Should last you 'til I'm back.”

“We'll make it work, Sir. We always do.” They always do. But they also always run short, because the hunts run long. And John always underestimates how much food two boys eat. And now that they're teenagers, they seem to pack the food away at an inhuman rate, like supernatural bottomless pits. But Sam and Dean make it work, even if it means earning a couple bucks scamming college kids out of their money in a game of pool or offering to cut some lawns in a suburb where the neighbors are so self-absorbed they don't even realize the boys don't live on that street.

“There are extra weapons in the bag in the bottom of the closet.” He was taking the car, which still held most of their firepower, but there was a sawed-off in at least every room of their drab apartment, bathroom included.

“Yes, Sir. We'll be safe.” Dean would make sure, at least. Sam could protect himself all right, but Dean had always looked after them both just fine, no matter what big bad and ugly came their way. Sam never felt safe unless Dean was nearby.

“Sorry I'll miss Christmas,” John said, not sounding sorry at all. He sounded full of business. He stuck a balled up plaid shirt under his nose and took a whiff of it. Apparently deciding it wasn't too ripe, he stuffed it in his bag. He zipped it up and slung it over his shoulder.

“We're sorry, too.” But they weren't. They accepted the manly pats on the arm as he hurriedly said goodbye. And they watched him from the apartment's living room window—which was also their bedroom window—as he drove out of the parking lot. The impala disappeared into the darkness of night.

Only then did Sam turn to Dean, dipping his head slightly and looking at his brother with big, needy eyes. “Can we start decorating now?” And Dean, who could never say no to Sam when he turned on those eyes that made him look like a sad puppy dog, went to drag the beat up cardboard box out from behind the couch side table.

“Knock yourself out, kiddo.” The box contained a hodgepodge of decorations they'd picked up at yard sales or thrift stores or even dug out of the trash when John wasn't around. They'd been saving them up since last year's after-Christmas sales and trash piles, and this was the first time they'd actually get to look at them all at once. Stockings and garlands and even a wreath with holly berries on it. “We got all the time in the world now to decorate.”

They hadn't known John would suddenly have a hunt this Christmas. They hadn't even arranged with Uncle Bobby to call and come up with an assignment for their dad. It was just that John had missed the last six Christmases, assuming you counted the one where dad drank an entire bottle of Jack the night before and didn't leave his bedroom until after ten o'clock pm on Christmas night. Basically, odds were that they'd be having Christmas on their own again this year. Which basically meant, no Christmas. Because Christmas was about family and John was family. But this year was going to be different. This year, they were going to give it a try. This year they were going to celebrate the way normal people did. That alone was all the present Sam needed. But there were still going to be presents under a tree and blinking lights around the windows. They were going to have peppermint-something at every meal while they watched whatever bad Christmas movies were available on basic cable. “Knock yourself out, Sammy. We'll pick the tree up tomorrow after school.” There was a lot just down the street; they should be able to carry a tree a couple blocks. Tomorrow was the last day of school, and the very next day was the day before Christmas. They had it all planned out: shopping, wrapping, decorating, feasting, celebrating. On Christmas Eve, they were planning to go to a special holiday-themed dinner at the buffet place in town, because all-you-can-eat was the cheapest way for two teenage boys to feel full for a change. Sam and Dean were full of plans.

And Sam should have known that couldn't end well. He should have known something would come along to destroy all their plans. Every single damn time Sam Winchester got his hopes up, they were somehow brutally dashed to pieces.

So he shouldn't have been surprised when he hung around the front door of the high school, waiting for Dean to show, and Dean didn't. Ghost. Demon. Witch. Anything could have gone wrong. Anything.

Ten minutes after the last student left the building, and fifteen minutes after Sam's anxiety really set in, Dean finally appeared. He was hunched over a little, hands shoved deep into his pockets, cheeks bright red, even though he'd only been out in the cold weather for half a second. “Dean?” Seeing Dean really should have lessened his worry but seeing Dean like this was worse. “What happened? Are you okay?”

Dean lifted his head slowly, blinking at his younger brother. “God, Sam. I'm sorry. I...”

Sam's heart was racing. A curse? An injury? What was wrong with him?

He stepped down a stair slowly. Then another. Then he snapped forward. “ahhh-Hihtchhhhh!

Sam waited a beat then followed behind him. “Dean?”

“B'sick, Sabby.” He snorted and snuffled into the side of his hand then coughed and cleared his throat. “I don't think I feel up to carrying a Christmas tree.” He rubbed his hand at his nose again. “Don't think I feel up to doing much of anything.” He looked over his shoulder briefly. “Sorry.”

Disappointment so strong it felt it take hold of his heart and squeeze settled over Sam. Childish tears prickled the backs of his eyes. And he had to clear his voice as well before replying. “It's okay.” Dean lifted his head again, looking doubtful on top of sorry. “Really, it's fine. We don't usually have Christmas anyway. It's not like you're ruining some long-running tradition. We'll just do what we normally do for Christmas.” Which was nothing. A big fat load of absolutely nothing at all.

Dean trudged along, moving slower than normal, as they walked home. Sam shuffled along, trying to pretend he was okay with this, trying to pretend all he cared about was that he and Dean would be together on Christmas, trying to pretend he was mature and hadn't really cared about celebrating anyway. But inside he was screaming and crying and throwing a fit like a two-year-old.

This wasn't fair. Nothing in his life was ever fair. He was finally going to get a normal Christmas and now it was all ruined.


Plus Dean was sick. And that sucked.


Three hours of sadness later, Sam sat Indian-style on the carpet and stared at the lights they'd put around the window the night before. A couple bulbs were burned out, but the string still managed to stay lit. Lit and blinking. Blinking in a horrible, mocking sort of way. Sam made up words that they were saying as they blinked: No. Christmas. No. Christmas. No. Christmas. For. You.

hehhhh-HIHKTchhuhhhh! HehTchhhhhh!

Behind him, Dean lay curled in the pull-out-couch bed he and Dean shared, as their apartment had only one bedroom, and that was dad's. Dean had crawled under the covers as soon as they'd gotten home from school—leather jacket, jeans, sneakers, and all. A few sneezes later, and his head had emerged from the blankets, asking Sam to see if they had a box of tissues somewhere.

It turned out they hadn't, but they had paper towels, and that was maybe even better, because Dean's sneezes weren't tiny little things. They shook his whole body as they burst out of him. And they made his nose all sniffly and runny. When Dean ripped a paper towel off the roll and buried his nose in it, he blew about a dozen times before balling up the paper towel and snuggling back under the sheet and two blankets.

But from under the covers, he sneezed again. “h-kmphhhhh!

Sam bristled, full of resentment as he looked over at the bashed-up box of Christmas tree decorations that were supposed to have been hanging on a tree by this time in their plan.


But it was hard to really be mad at Dean when he was sick. This wasn't like John choosing to go on some hunt over staying home with his sons on a holiday. This was Dean getting smacked down by the world's most miserable head cold, something completely out of his control.


Poor Dean.

ihh... ihhhhh... ihhhhhhhhhhh...” He pulled his head out from under the covers, nostrils flaring, just as the sneeze finally hit. “ihh-HIHSchhhhhh!” Blinking and sniffling, Dean looked over at Sam. Sam did his best to look sympathetic rather than annoyed or disappointed or any of the dozen other feelings running through him. And Dean, still sniffling, just looked miserable. “I'm sorry, Sammy. I didn't mean to catch this cold just before Christmas. I really didn't.”

Sam spoke softly. “I know.” He put on a reassuring smile. “Can I make some dinner? I can heat up some soup.”

Dean nodded slowly. “Yeah. Okay.” Then he fumbled for the paper towels, tore off a sheet, and brought it to his face. “ihhh-HIHKTschhhh! HehhhKeh... KihhTshhhh!

So Sam got up from his spot on the floor and headed over to the kitchen area. Dean usually did what little cooking they needed, but Sam knew he could manage some Campbell's tomato. There was even enough bread left to make a toasted peanut butter sandwich half for each of them. As he prepared dinner, he listened to Dean sniffle and sneeze and cough. And he wondered what Dean could possibly take to feel better. He must be able to take something. There was that green stuff that knocked him out the last time Sam was sick; maybe they still had some of that in the medicine cabinet or the medical kit kept under the couch. It would probably make the soup taste terrible, though, so he'd wait to mention it until after Dean had a bite or two to eat.

Sam used the stove to heat the can of soup mixed with the last of their milk. While waiting for it to boil and stirring occasionally, he slapped some peanut butter on the bread and popped that into the toaster oven. When the food was ready, he dished the soup out into two bowls and the sandwich, cut into two triangles, onto plates. He placed all the food with two glasses of water and two cans of coke on the table. “Dean, dinner's ready!”

The heap of Dean under the covers stirred, coughed, and then rose. Shivering and sniffling, Dean stumbled across the room to the table. He sunk into the chair, coughing. Before he could reach for a spoon, his breath began to hitch. “ihh! Huhhhh! Hihh!” Both Dean and Sam realized too late that Dean had left the paper towel roll back on the bed. “ihhh!” Dean cupped his hand to his mouth and nose as his eyes involuntarily closed. “ihhh! IHH-Hihktshhhhhhhh!” Dean winced.

Sam got up and retrieved the paper towels for his brother, who needed something better, needed tissues.  It was Christmas, after all, he deserved that much. He watched as Dean tiredly blew his nose a half dozen times. Then, breathing heavily, he lowered the paper towel but didn't open his eyes. “Dean?”

With a great effort, Dean opened one eye, then pried the other open. “Yeah?”

Not knowing what to ask, Sam didn't say anything right away. Dean looked exhausted from all the sneezing. He looked like he would sooner fall asleep in his soup than eat it. “I can heat this up for you later, if you're not hungry.”

Dean looked incredibly grateful. “Thanks. I... I-ihhh... I cahhh... hehhhh! Hih! Ih! Ihhhhhh!” He froze in place for a moment, nose twitching even as he pressed a new paper towel to it. “ehhh-IHPTchhhhh!

Sam got up and patted Dean's back. Smiling wearily, Dean stood up and went with Sam back to bed. Dean flopped down on the bed, its old, tired springs vocalizing their protest in a series of squeaks. But Dean burrowed under the blankets, sniffling. Sam tucked them around his brother. But, in the process, his hand brushed Dean's forehead. Alarmed, Sam pulled back. If Sam hadn't known any better, he'd have thought Dean were actually on fire. “Dean?” Dean only coughed and whimpered and buried his head in a pillow—Sam's pillow, as it was.

Hating to see his brother like this, Sam turned. Again he was facing the window. Night had fallen outside, making the glow of the colored lights brighter as they flashed at him. This time, Sam was sure they were saying: Do. Something. Do. Something. Help. Dean. Do Something.

So Sam made straight for his dad's bedroom, yanked open the top drawer of the beat up, old dresser, and fished out the envelope. Fifty bucks in tens. It wasn't much, but it would have to do. If anyone could make that stretch, it was Sam. Pocketing the cash, Sam went back to the main room to find Dean had already fallen asleep. Sam hesitated, wondering if he should leave a note at least. But he found himself reaching out and cupping his hand to his brother's forehead again, finding he hadn't been imagining how hot it was.

Sam slipped his sneakers on, grabbed his coat, and destroyed the neatly-lain salt line as he headed right out the door.


“Dean?” The darkness in the apartment made Sam feel like he needed to be quiet. Apparently, sometime during the evening, Dean had gotten up and turned off the light as well as taken off his jacket, dropping it on the floor beside the couch-bed. He lay on his back now with his arm bent, flannel forearm draped over his eyes and the blankets pulled up only to his waist. He was snoring softly, his nose red around the nostrils already and cheeks flushed red with fever, but he looked peaceful like this. Sam hated to wake him up, but he was pretty sure he needed to.

He sat down on what was usually his side of the bed, when his sick brother wasn't taking up the whole middle. “Dean?” he repeated, this time shaking Dean a little by his shoulder.

Dean came awake with a jolt and a cough, blinking about in the darkness. “Sabby? Whah... ahh... hih... HIHKTschhhh!

Sam shuffled around for a second then forced a tissue into Dean's hand. “Here you go if you need more.” He set the box down right next to Dean's arm. “'Cause you're probably going to need more.”

Realizing what he was wiping his nose with, Dean lifted it up and stared at it like he hadn't seen a tissue in a long time; maybe he hadn't. “Sabby, where did these cub frub?”

“Uh, the store.” Duh. “I bought it with the money Dad left us.”

Dean sat up straighter. “That was for our meals.”

 “Oh, I bought some food as well. I bought a lot. I had some coupons. Did you know they sell tissue boxes in four-packs?”

“You got be four boxes of tissues?”


Dean reached out and pulled a tissue out of the box. Then another. And another. One deep breath later, he snapped forward. “hehhh-Ihkfshhhhh! HehhhKShhhhhh! Heh heh-IHSchhhh! Hehh-KTschhhh! Eh eh... heh... hehIHkstchhhh! Heh-HehKehtchhhh! HehhKehtschhhhh!” So tied from all the sneezing, Dean fell back over, crashing into the pillows. He gave a soft moan.

“I got some other things for you. The guy at the store said this medicine was the best for co--”

“Give it!” Dean reached his hand out immediately, and Sam laughed. He ripped open the box and punched a pill out of its blister pack. Sam was about to go get his brother a glass of water, but then Dean grabbed the pill and swallowed it down dry. “Gotta stob sdeezig,” he said wearily. “Toborrow's Christbas Eve. We have blads.”

Blads? “Are you trying to say the word plans?” Dean nodded and Sam sighed. Sam looked at the bags and bags of things he'd bought. More tissues. Medicine. Hot chocolate and peppermint tea. Cherry cough drops. A fake little Christmas tree. And a brand new fleece blanket. That big box store sold it all. “We'll see how you feel tomorrow, okay, Dean?” There was no answer. “Dean?”

Sam listened closely and recognized, at once, the steady sound of Dean's breathing. Even with his head full of cold, his breathing clearly indicated that he had already fallen asleep.

After watching over his brother for a few minutes, Sam got back up and started putting the new purchases away. He stacked the three full tissue boxes in a pyramid by the bed and put the bottle of nasal spray on top. He dumped the cough drops into one of the stockings and then hung it up with its little hook over the corner of the wooden box the television was perched on. He put his stocking up on the other corner, even though there was nothing in it now and there probably wouldn't be anything in it come Christmas morning. Unless, of course, Santa Claus were real. And if he were, then Sam would walk right up to him and punch him in the mouth for abandoning them the past fourteen years. This was the first Christmas he was ever going to have and no one and nothing—not even an exhausting, rotten head cold—was going to ruin it.


Dean slept. He slept a hell of a lot. Sam thought about squeezing in on his side of the bed, but there really wasn't enough room. He also thought about sleeping on the floor and, close-by in case Dean woke up and needed something. But he worried about Dean stumbling out of bed in a feverish daze and stepping on him. So, in the end, Sam ended up sleeping in John's bed. But, unlike Dean, he did not sleep restfully.

It was strange being somewhere that smelled like John, his shampoo and beef jerky and booze, only John wasn't there and Sam expected him to be. So it took a while to feel comfortable there. Then he started worrying about Dean. What if Dean couldn't breathe? What if his fever got worse? What if he took another dose of medicine too soon? More than a dozen times, Sam woke and got up to check on Dean. And every single time, Dean was all right. Snoring loudly and hot with fever, but all right. And he woke up earlier than usual, but he was unable to fall back to sleep. So he got up and fixed himself some cereal.

He grabbed his school books out of his backpack and set to work on his Christmas break homework. The more he got out of the way early, the better a Christmas he'd have. Plus, it had the added bonus of keeping him occupied so that he didn't worry so much about Dean.

Poor Dean. A couple times, his brother woke and coughed or sneezed. But the bottle of water on the nightstand and the box of tissues in the bed were both used quite a bit. Each time, however, Dean drifted right back off to sleep again. And Sam, watching like a hawk from the kitchen table only a few yards away, would then relax a little and dive back into his world history paper or geometry problems. It was a much different Christmas Eve day than the one he had been anticipating, but it was quiet and he was with Dean. That was all that mattered.


“Sabby?” It was well into the afternoon when Dean woke for good. The first thing Sam did was made him swallow another pill. And after he did, Dean tried to get up. But his arms shook and would not support his weight. He crashed back onto the mattress, head falling into the pillow. “Helb?”

Sam pushed and forced himself between the bed and Dean, letting Dean put much of his weight on him. He was about to ask what Dean wanted to do now that he was upright, but he could guess. Dean hauled himself up to his feet and they headed in the direction of the bathroom. Dean took care of business on his own but, when he opened the door, he froze, a fistful of toilet paper bunched at his nose. “Sabby?”


“What habbed to the roob?”

The small, fake tree Sam had bought sat on the coffee table, but was still only waist high. Not a lot of ornaments would fit on it, but Sam had started with decorating it and, when no more would fit, he had decorated the rest of the room. Tinsel was wrapped around a lamp from top to bottom. Ornaments hung from doorknobs. Candy canes filled a mug on a bookshelf. Stockings were hung by the television with care. And strings of lights not only outlined the window but also zigzagged around the room, wrapped, hooked, or twisted around every high surface Sam had been able to find from shelves to a coat rack to the empty curtain rods to the bedposts. There was a wreath on the inside of the door. There was a candle on the side table shaped like an angel. And there were two Santa Claus hats on the bedposts at the foot of the bed, just waiting to be put onto the heads of two teenaged Winchester boys.

“Christmas happened to it, Dean. It's Christmas Eve.” Sam looked around the room with pride. It wasn't everything he had wanted it to be, but it was still more than he'd had for years. To him, it was still magical. And he hoped Dean would think it was, too.

huhhhhh... huhhhhhh!” Dean stumbled forward, rubbing the side of his hand back and forth beneath his nose. “Ih! Hih! Huhh! Hihhh! Ih! Ihhhhhh-Ih-ih-ih-HIHKtschhhh!” He fell forward, so his thighs made contact with the bed. With a painful yelp, he lost his balance and Sam put an arm around him, keeping him from falling over. Then he helped Dean crawl back into bed, cover up with blankets, and locate the tissue box. Dean blew his nose mightily before flopping over onto his side, out of breath and tired out just from that. His eyes still darted around the room, taking in his surroundings.

But his expression was unreadable, and that made Sam nervous. “I kept the salt lines intact,” Sam reassured him. Then, hesitantly, “Do you like it?”

Finally, Dean nodded. But when he spoke, his tone held disappointment more than the joy that holiday decorations of any sort should have inspired. “We were subbosed to do the decoratig together.”

“We can do other things together,” Sam quickly countered.

“Dot likely. Sabby, I hate to say it, but I feel terrible. I feel worse thad terrible. I dod't have ady edergy. I cad barely get out of bed.”

“We can do things that don't require you to get out of bed.” Sam darted over to the table and came back with a schedule he had spent part of the morning drawing up. “Tomorrow there's a parade on TV, with floats and school bands and things. Tonight there's a showing of A Christmas Carol.” He waved the paper. “There's dozens of holiday shows and movies we can watch together.”


“I've got a deck of cards and lots of snacks to much on and... a couple small presents.”

Dean looked pained. “Oh Sabby. I was goig to get you subthig good.”

Sam tried not to look like he was disappointed. But Dean was always giving him things. And now their Christmas was going to be about more than just things. It was going to be about memories and brothers and...

ih... ihh... ih! Ihhhh! IH! IHKTttchhhhh!

And it was also going to be about many more sneezes then either of them needed. But they'd put up with worse over the years. There was the Christmas they'd been trapped in a shack with two ghosts. There was the Christmas Sam had asked John why they didn't ever get a tree like normal families, and Sam had spent the rest of the evening with a sore bum. There was the Christmas they nearly froze to death hunting a wendigo out in a snowy national forest. There was the Christmas their dad stood them up and Sam learned about demons and John being a hunter from Dean.


Sam grabbed the tissue box and held it out to Dean with a soft smile. “Merry Christmas, Dean.”

Dean pulled a tissue out and wiped at his nose. He refolded the tissue so that he could blow his nose, and then he lowered his hand with a light cough. “Okay, Sabby. What's up first od your schedule?”

Sam's face lit up. “Assuming you don't want to watch the Nutcracker...”

Though congested, his laugh was reassuring and so very Dean. It was the Dean who sat with him in the backseat of the Impala as Dad drove from hunt to hunt. It was the Dean who always protected him and who covered his back. It was Dean who looked after him.

“Then we can watch Die Hard. It's supposed to be good, despite the name. They probably don't know how hard it is to kill some of the things we go up against. But it's still worth watching, I think. ”

Dean's agreement was in the form of another nod as he quickly grabbed another tissue from the box. “hih-Ihhh... ihhhh ih ihhhhhhh Ihhh Ihh Ihhkkehtchhhhh! IhhKehtchh! Hih-hihHIPtschh! HehhhKeh-heh-hehh hehhh-IHPtschhhhh! Hehh-eh-ihhhKehTishhhhh!

Sam got up and switched the television on by hand; the remote had gone missing months ago after it had stopped working. Two channels later, there was Bruce Willis, already kicking butt. Sam hovered there, not sure what to do, where he belonged.

“Sabby?” Dean wasn't looking at the movie; he was staring at his little brother. “You godda sguggle ub here with be add keeb be warb or what?”

Sam scampered into their bed. Leaning back against the back of the couch, he then leaned sideways into his brother and Dean rested his head upon Sam's shoulder. Dean shook a little with coughs and sniffles. He didn't make it to the end of the movie.


It's a Wonderful Life had ended about fifteen minutes ago and the warm and fuzzy feeling as the angel earned his wings led way to a sad depression again as the channel showed a repeat presentation of the movie. George Bailey went from learning his life was worth living after all back to wanting to jump off that bridge all over again. Sam didn't need that just before bed. So he pulled himself away from his sleeping brother to change the channel.

Sam changed the channel to a crackling Yule Log that had soft, instrumental Christmas carols playing in the background. It was just the thing to sleep to. Sam tucked the blankets around his brother then essentially tiptoed away, not wanting to wake Dean up.

“Wait... where are you goig?”

Feeling a little self-conscious, Sam shrugged. Dean probably couldn't see it in the darkness, but he did it anyway. “I slept in Dad's bed last night so that you could have our bed to yourself. I thought I'd do the same tonight.”

“Uh-uh.” Dean coughed, shaking the bed, illustrating precisely why Sam thought giving Dean some room might be for the best. “It's Christbas Eve. I deed by brother with be.”

Against his better judgment and because he always did what Dean told him, Sam climbed back into bed. Dean gave him just enough room to get in before he snuggled up to him for warmth almost immediately. “It's not,” Sam told him, sliding his hand across Dean's warm forehead.


“It's not Christmas Eve any more. It's past midnight.”

Dean smiled wearily, eyes falling closed even though he was fighting that. “Merry...” he started, trailing off as his nostrils flared. “keh-hihhh-ihh... ihhKihhshhhhhh! Ihh... IHSchhhhh!

Merry sneezes. That sounded about right. “Right back atcha, Dean.” Sam closed his eyes but the string of multi-colored lights seemed to penetrate his closed eyelids. “Do you want me to get up and turn off the lights and the television set?”

Dean grunted in what must have been a negative, because he shook his head no and clung tighter to Sam. And though Sam was pretty sure it was going to take longer to fall asleep this way, he sort of didn't mind.

This wasn't the Christmas he'd hoped for. It wasn't the Christmas he'd imagined or even planned. This was the Christmas he was going to have, and for all its faults, he was still with Dean. They were safe and sound, and they were together. “Merry Chri—“ Sam began, but he was immediately quieted.

hihhhhh! Hih! IHGTschhhhhh! IhhhHrshhhhh! Hih Ih ih ihih hihhh...” Dean wavered, blindly pulling another tissue from the box as his nostrils flared widely. Finally, he pitched forward again. “IhhhhhhKTSchhhhhhh!

Sam smiled and quickly changed sentiments. “Bless you.”