Day 1

Title: Day 1
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Supernatural
Rating: PG
Pairing: a little bit of Sam/Dean if you want to read it that way (and I do)
Disclaimer: Not my characters. I wish they were mine. I definitely don’t get paid for this.
Summary: Dean gets super excited about Christmas and drags Sam to a winter fair even though Sam is sick.
Notes: Written during my 13 Ficlets in 13 Days in 2016 project for cowboyguy

Sam looked down at the flier Dean had forced into his hands that morning. It advertised a beautiful winter wonderland scene complete with horse-drawn sleigh rides, fresh pine trees and handmade stockings for sale, and free hot chocolate. Beyond what was printed on the flier, its creases and wrinkles also showed that Dean had been holding onto this for ages in the hopes of going. This was their first “normal” Christmas since leaving hunting, and Dean was determined to do it right. And by 'right,' Sam knew he meant going overboard.

Sam really didn't mind stepping back and letting Dean obsess about the holidays. If he wanted to spend three hours of his life at a fair picking out the perfect tree, Sam wasn't going to stop him. He just didn't understand why Dean needed him to come along. Sam would much rather leave the decorating and planning and obsessing to Dean. And, today, Sam would much rather have stayed under the covers in bed with a box of tissues and a bottle of extra strength NyQuil.

He'd woken up snuffly, which wasn't necessarily indicative of anything terrible. This fall, he'd discovered a couple allergies he hadn't known about and had spent a few weeks feeling perpetually sniffly and stuffed up. But it was pretty clear to Sam early on today that what he was suffering from was no little allergy.

It was also clear from the eager look on Dean's face that he would be absolutely devastated to miss out on the winter fair. So Sam took some DayQuil, put on an extra layer of flannel, and stuffed both of his coat pockets full of tissues. He had hunted werewolves in the middle of the night with a horrendous head cold. He had powered past a cold-stuffed nose to read Latin properly to banish a demon. He had even single-handedly dug up a body for a salt and burn in the middle of a cold rainstorm while fighting off a fever of over a hundred. Going Christmas tree shopping with his big brother and a little case of the sniffles would be a piece of cake. Or pie. Or yule log. Sam wasn't exactly clear about what people traditionally ate for dessert on Christmas, but that didn't matter. This would be easy.


hahh... hahhhhhhh hah-UHTChooo!” Sam sneezed, massaging his nose through a tissue afterward. The cold temperature outside had caused it to run all afternoon and the cold in his nose had caused him to sneeze his way through the tissues he'd brought a lot faster than he'd expected to.

When he opened his eyes after this one, he saw a red-cheeked elf sign pointing the way to Santa's workshop, a cart selling wreaths made of nothing but Styrofoam and candy, and his own frustrated big brother. “I can't believe you didn't tell me you were coming down with something,” Dean said through clenched teeth.

Sam tried to look apologetic, though he wasn't sure the sentiment made it past the layer of pathetic he was already projecting. “Um, sniff, I couldn't really tell you I thought I might be coming down with a cold when it had already hit full on.” This was not the answer Dean had been waiting for, so Sam quickly added, “I'm sorry. Sniff! Sniff!” He rubbed again at his nose and made an offer, “I could, um, go wait in the Impala until you're done.” It wouldn't be the first time he'd curled up on the backseat and napped under blankets, just the first time since they'd stopped being hunters.

“No fucking way.” Dean hooked his arm around Sam's. “I want to be able to keep an eye on you.” He sighed. “I just wish you'd told me.”

“I thought I'd be able to sniff hide it until we got back home at least. Didn't want to ruin your winter wonderland experience here.” It had been worth every miserable moment just to be there when they'd arrived at the fair. Dean's eyes had been wider than some of the kids' they'd passed. He'd stood and marveled at the grand tree at the center of the village, dusted with snow and shining with silvery tinsel. He'd taken notes on trees for sale that they'd passed on the way to look at the model trains and the gingerbread cookie baking exhibits. He had circled times for Christmas caroling he didn't want to miss on the program schedule they'd been given with their admission. “Besides, it's not that bad. Sniff! It's just a cold. Huhh uhhh-HUHTChhuhhh! Hahhh Ahhkschooo!” As he blew his nose, a powerful shiver overtook him.

Just a cold. Ha. Maybe Dean believed it, but Sam certainly knew it was a lie. He'd never felt so sick. Head aching. Nose running. Head stuffed-up with congestion. Throat burning. Chills rushing up and down his body without stop. Eyelids feeling so tired, needing to close for just a minute... or two...

He felt Dean pull away for a second, probably distracted by some shiny display of Christmas ornaments on sale.

“Hot chocolate.” Dean suddenly pressed a large travel mug decorated with snowflakes into Sam's hand. “Drink up and stay warm, Sammy.” Seeing that Dean had bought himself one as well, Sam tapped his mug against his brother's in “cheers” before taking a careful sip. It was piping hot, almost too hot to drink yet. But he was glad to be holding its warmth until it was drinkable. “Keep the mug. There are free refills all day.”

Sam smiled, remembering their pulling all-nighters at truck stop diners, researching the supernatural and drinking free refills of coffee. “Thanks, Dean. Hah hahh!” Sam pulled a tissue from his pocket and bunched it at his nose. “IHTChhhhhhhh!” He saw the look of concern on Dean's face and, remembering all too well how overprotective Dean could be, knew he had to do something so Dean wouldn't figure out how bad this cold was. “Ub, hey, are those hand painted nutcrackers over there?”

“What? Where?” Dean wheeled around on the spot as Sam snuffled into the tissue then tucked it away.

“C'mon. Let's go look at them.” Sam nudged Dean forward, and, sipping their hot chocolates, they walked over to another of the Christmas carts lining the paths throughout the winter fair.

Sam could count on one hand the number of actual Christmases the Winchesters had had over the years, and he was glad to see Dean so heavily dedicated to their first one since retirement. Mostly, he was just happy to see Dean so excited about anything since giving up alcohol and giving up hunting, It was worth suffering through a cold to get to witness this. Especially if hot chocolate was involved.

They headed into one of the little tents so Dean could look at various tree skirts and tree stands next. Sam waited until Dean was absorbed in evaluation until stepping back and pulling a fresh tissue from his pocket. The combination of his runny, wet nose and the cold winter air and the unforgiving tissue made his nose hurt every time he tried to get it under control, but he tried not to wince in pain when Dean could see; he tried to tell himself he'd been through a lot worse.

But then, inevitably, another tickle snuck up on him. “hhhh!” He turned his back to Dean, hoping he wouldn't be spotted. “huhhhh uhhhhh uhhhh HAHHH HUHTSchhhhhhh! HahhhKShhhhhhh!

“Sam?” Dean rubbed a hand against Sam's back. He could barely feel it through his coat, but he could tell Dean was close. His voice was soft in Sam's ear. “You all right?”

Sam nodded, though he didn't feel all right. Not all right at all. “Yeah, I... I just... hahhhh HAHTChhuhhhhhh! HIHTSchhhhh! I have to sneeze. Hahhhhhhh-IHTChhhhh! HutChshhhhh!

“Bless you. You got enough tissues?”

Sam didn't, but he nodded. “Sure.” He'd stretch them and make them last as best he could. Dean didn't need to know.

“Well, just in case... I've got a few.” He pulled a full tissue pack out of his coat pocket and handed it over. As Sam blew his nose, Dean looked around. “Oh man. Roasted chestnuts. Seriously? It's just like the song. We've gotta try those!” He took off in the direction of another tent, and Sam, sniffling, tried to keep up with his brother.

But Sam felt sluggish. He hugged his arms against his chest, shaking with cold, and shuffled behind Dean from tent to tent. They looked at ornaments. They looked at fireplace tools, even though they didn't have a real fireplace. They looked at wrapping paper. Dean was enraptured by the magic of the season, every tent bringing new promise. But  all Sam wanted was to go back home and get into bed.


“What do you think about this platter?” Dean asked, considering a platter in the tableware tent.

“S'fine.” Sam rubbed his nose.

“But what about this one? I think I like this design better.”

“It's fine too.” Sam rubbed harder at is nose. He had to sneeze again already.

“But is it big enough for a turkey?”

How big a turkey did Dean think the two of them could eat? “hahh IHTSchhhhhhh! Sniff! Sure. Cough! Cough!” Sam gritted his teeth. His throat was on fire.

“Here.” Dean produced a candy cane Sam didn't even remember him picking up before. In fact, Sam noticed Dean had several shopping bags already. What else had he bought? “Suck on this. Peppermint will help.”

Sam wasn't so sure it would, but the way his throat was feeling, he was willing to try anything that would make him feel better. He hooked it around his finger, peeled back the plastic, and started sucking on it. His throat still hurt when he swallowed, and this wasn't as good as having an herbal cough drop, but the candy cane did make his throat feel a little better.

hahhh hahhCHIShhhh!” It didn't do anything to help his sneezing, however.

Sam trudged after Dean, following him to a section of the fair dedicated to Christmas lights. This section took lights to a whole other level. There were glowing, inflatable snow globes. There was a whole set of illuminated reindeer. There were lights in the shape of icicles and lights in the shape of snowflakes. There were lights of every color of the rainbow, blinking and flashing. And they were all making Sam's headache just a little worse. He closed his eyes, trying to block out the irritating glow enough to keep the thumping in his temples in check.

But when he opened his eyes, Dean was no longer next to him. He looked around, seeing only a sea of strangers surrounding him. Sudden panic seized Sam hard. On a normal day, this wouldn't bother him so much. Sure, they were still as codependent as ever, but they didn't have to be attached to each other's sides constantly in order to function. Now that Sam was sick, however, his emotions were racing wildly out of control. He needed Dean, whether he was willing to admit it to Dean or not yet. And Dean was nowhere to be found. And a missing Dean could surely only mean that the man had been kidnapped by witches or attacked by demons... or worse.

“Hey, did you see this one? It would look great in the living room window, don't you think?”

Sam turned to find Dean inspecting a whole display of illuminated words. The one he was gesturing to spelled out MERRY CHRISTMAS in alternating red and green lights. Sam was also pretty sure it was larger than any of the windows in their place. “Um... I'm not sure... hahhh h-hold on... hahhh HAH!” Quickly, he pulled out a tissue and held it ready. “HAHTUChhhhhhhhh!

“Hmmm. It might be too big.”

HAH Hahtihshhhhhhh!

“Guess we should keep looking.” He bent his arm and slid it around Sam's, pulling him close. “Stay close. I don't want to loose you in the crowd here.”

Sam smiled what he hoped was a reassuring smile, a promise to try not to get himself lost. Or captured by witches or demons or vampires or whatever. But he loved being close to Dean like this. Despite the layers of coats, he still felt warmer with Dean right up against his side. And when they were touching, Sam felt like they were both going to be safe.

It was a struggle to keep up with Dean's pace, but Sam did his best, trudging along from display to display, from tent to tent, from cart to cart. He remembered all those times on hunts when he'd had Dean's back, even when he was cold or sick or injured. If he could do that then, he could do this now.

The entire fair was covered in white lights, which were starting to make the place look magical and beautiful now that the sun was on its way down. And the lack of sun also meant a lack of warmth. He shivered even more, stuffing his hands into his pockets to try to keep them warm, only to need to pull them out again every time he felt a sneeze coming on... which was practically all of the time now. “hahhhh-ahh HAHChhuhhhh!

His hands stung from the wetness of the tissues and the cold temperatures as he blew and wiped at his nose. He tried cupping them to his mouth and breathing warm puffs of air into them, but that only helped for a moment. He tried rubbing them together to generate heat. But, as he did so, he felt something strike his hands. Sam looked up to see fat snowflakes raining down on them. There was a collective “ooohhhh!” from the crowd at the fair as they realized it had begun to snow. Some kids began twirling in it. Some people tried catching snowflakes on their tongues. Some people got out their phones and started taking photos of the winter wonderland magic that had descended upon them. Sam just shivered all the more.

“Here. Give...” Dean grabbed one of Sam's hands from him and started to shove a glove onto it. As soon as Sam was over his surprise, he helped tug the gloves onto both his hands. They were navy blue with big, fat, white snowflakes on them, but the insides were lined with something to soft and thick that his hands felt warm almost instantly. He wiggled his fingers, finding a little of his mobility gone, but he was pretty sure he'd still be able to get tissues to his nose to catch sneezes, and that was really all he needed. Assuming he had enough warning to get ready.

“huhhChooo!” He sneezed openly, without warning, still grabbing and fumbling for the tissues in his pockets. He ripped one, trying to get at it so quickly, but he still managed to get a few to his face. “hahKTshhh! HehhTshhhh!” He blew his nose before the tickle could get any worse. His head swam dizzily, and when he put a hand to his forehead, the gloves prevented him from feeling how hot his skin must be. He closed his eyes, coughing and sniffling and feeling an overwhelming sense of misery and self-pity.

“Hot cider.”

Sam opened his eyes to see Dean standing there, holding tight onto his arm so he wouldn't fall if he fainted and trying to distract him. “Sniff!  What? Sniff!

“I said that the mugs are good for hot cider refills as well. Can I get you some?”

Wearily, Sam nodded his head. With thick, gloved fingers, he unhooked the mug from his belt loop and handed it to Dean. They were standing beside a cart of barrels with taps on them. The sign on the cart was without words but had an illustration of an apple with a cinnamon stick sticking out of it. Just to the right of the cart was a stand with a long line formed in front of it. Sam tried to get his head back in the game, tried to focus, and he saw back behind the stand a large sleigh. Two large, white stallions were hooked up to it, bells adorning the leather straps. In the front of the sleigh stood a man with a black top hat and a whip. In the back portion was a couple, snuggled together under layers of what looked like fur blankets.

Dean returned with the hot chocolate and must have noticed Sam's longing expression. Following his brother's gaze, he laughed, “Hey, Sam, you know I love ya, but taking a romantic sleigh ride together is where I draw the line, dude.”

Sam nodded. “I know. I was j-just thinking about how warm those blankets must be.”

“Probably not that much warmer than this one.” Dean set his bags down and pulled a purchase out from one of them. It was a chunky, thick, hand knitted beige blanket. Sam got only a quick look at it, with its snowflake pattern, because Dean was already draping it over his shoulders. It brushed against his cheek and chin, and he found the yarn ultra-soft to the touch. And once it was around him, Sam did feel much warmer.  

“Bet you want to get home to bed, don't you?” Dean asked, rubbing Sam's arm through the blanket.

Sam sniffed as he shrugged, trying to look impartial to the idea when he was really screaming out, inwardly, that he wanted Dean to take him home right this very second. He looked down at the ground, dusted with light snow, wondering how much accumulation they were going to get this time.

“Let's go.”

Sam's head snapped up. “What?”

“Let's go home.”

“But sniff sniff you don't even have a tree yet.” He looked over in the direction of the trees. The rows and rows of different kinds of Christmas trees stretched so far back that Sam couldn't see it end. “That's the whole reason we... we came... hahhTIHChhhh! Sniff!” 

“I can get a tree anywhere. There are tons of 'em,” Dean said. “I've only got one of you. C'mon. I'll get you home and get you some cold medicine.” Dean turned him and started walking him toward the exit to the parking lot.

Sam found himself leaning on his brother even more, especially as another sneeze took hold. “hahh... hahhh I hahhh I Hah Hahtchhhhhh! Sniff! I already took some.” He kept the tissue bunched to his nose, still feeling intensely sneezy. Dean stopped in his tracks, and Sam stumbled but caught himself from falling. “What? Sniff!

“You already took stuff, and your cold is still this bad?”

Sam nodded and pressed the tissue more firmly to his nostrils. “hehhh IHHHTchhhhhh!

Dean tightened his grip and resumed walking, quickening his pace, taking then out of the winter fair. “Then I'm definitely getting you home and straight into bed with a hot water bottle. Damn it, Sammy! This has got to be the worst cold I've seen you come down with in years. Why didn't you tell me when you realized you were feeling worse?”

As they walked down one of the rows of cars toward the Impala, Sam looked back at the fair, over his shoulder. It glowed with soft, white-yellow light and Christmas spirit, and Sam smiled at it, remembering that look of pure bliss in Dean's eyes. He didn't have to wonder why he had let Dean drag him there.