Day 1

Title: Day 1
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Supernatural
Rating: PG
Pairing: none
Disclaimer: Not my characters. I wish they were mine. I definitely don’t get paid for this.
Summary: Sam is sick on a hunt, but something strange starts to happen to Dean.
Notes: Written during my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2017-18 project project for cowboyguy

Dean checked his pockets, finding only a gun and his fake FBI badge. Just like the last three times he checked, he still didn’t have his bandanna on him.

“Sorry, Dean.” Sam snuffled from behind the hands cupped to his face. “I didn’t mean to sneeze on her. Really.”

Of course Sam hadn’t. But he’d still done it. And, more to the point, the witness had not been in the mood to relate any details after it had happened. There were still four more houses to hit on the block, and maybe one of their occupants had seen something, but this had been their best chance for a lead. Tracking down vengeance spells often relied on knowing the victim. And in cases when there weren’t any surviving relatives, asking neighbors was the first logical place to start.

“I won’t Sniff! Sniff! I won’t do it again. What… why are we…?”

Dean had steered Sam not to the next house but back to the impala. Dean opened the back door, rooted through his duffle bag, and pulled out a bandanna. He gave the thing to Sam then ushered his younger brother into the backseat as well.

“Dean…” Sam began between blows of his nose. “We still don’t have any idea what’s going on here. There are more houses.” He tilted his head and rested it against the back of the seats. He hugged his legs to his chest, not seeming inclined to climb back out again, especially when Dean spread an old, olive green, wool army blanket over him. Sam looked beat.

“I’ll do the interviews myself. You just… I don’t know… sneeze or whatever you have to do. Just do it in the car where you can’t get into any more trouble. All right?”  

Sam’s eyes closed. Apparently, it was all right with him. So Dean closed the door and headed to the next house. Two young boys answered the door. One ran to get his father while the other stared up at Dean with his mouth half-open. “Are you a real FBI agent?” he asked, which put Dean a little on edge. Dean tried to be smooth as he got his badge out and showed it off. “Wicked!” the kid said.

The father was a middle-aged, balding man in a flannel shirt who looked like he’d been spending his Saturday afternoon doing something in his garage that involved grease and oil. Dean instantly liked the guy, but the guy didn’t seem to like him so much. “I’m here to talk about your neighbor, Ms. Pierretree.”

“The one in the green and yellow house?” asked the man, and Dean nodded. “Afraid I don’t have much. I’d see her sometimes when she was getting the mail or taking out the trash, but that’s about it. Not sure we ever even talked.”

That fit with other descriptions of the victim being kind of a loner, and in the suburbs these days it wasn’t uncommon for neighbors to not even know each other’s names. But it also reeked of suspicious behavior. That was just what someone who wanted to take revenge on her might say to an FBI agent. Dean decided to dig a little deeper. “Have you noticed any suspi… sus… suspicis… hang on.” His eyes fluttered closed and he pressed a fist to his mouth, knuckles rubbing at his nostrils. An intense tickle was assaulting them. Did the family have a cat, or was he coming down with Sam’s cold finally? Seemed strange to all of a sudden start sneezing when he felt fine otherwise, though. It must be his allergy hitting him. “hahh... hahhhh-Atchuh! Sorry… do you have a cah… a caahhhh hahh-AHTchhuhh! A cat?”

“No,” the man shook his head. “We used to have a dog, years ago. He went missing one day and we never saw him again. Kids were upset for years. But no cats. There isn’t even a neighborhood stray as far as I know.”

hah!” Dean felt another tickle, but it backed off abruptly. Dean gave it a moment, just to make sure he wouldn’t sneeze, before he relaxed. Must have just been dust or just one of those times you have to sneeze for absolutely no reason at all. But usually those were easier to rub away than these sneezes had been.

“Sorry, where was I? Oh, right. Have there been any suspicious people visiting Ms. Pierretree? Perhaps just lurking outside her house or down the street?”

The man looked like Dean was talking crazy. “If I’d noticed something like that, I would’ve called the police, wouldn’t I?”

If Dean had had a dollar for the number of weird things that went unreported, he’d never need to hustle a pool table again. “Of course. How about cold… cold spots?” Another tickle. This one was even stronger than those before it had been. He rubbed again, trying to look casual about it, but he just couldn’t do anything about it. “What about the smell… the… oh…” He swore and cupped his hand over both his nose and mouth. His eyes squeezed closed. “ha-ha-Hahtchuhh! Hatchhh! H’tchuhh! Hahshuhh!” He hardly ever sneezed in multiples like this. Sam did, especially when he had a bad cold he couldn’t do anything about. But Dean was more of a one at a time sneezer. This wasn’t like him at all. Sniffling, he raised his head and rubbed his hand under his nose. He cleared his throat. “Cold spots? Or smells like rotten eggs? Lights flickering?”

The man stared at him, looking concerned, like whatever Dean had might be catching. But Dean had no idea what was going on, let alone if he was contagious. “No, none of those as far as I can recall. Apart from the lights, that is. We had a bulb start to go a week ago in the kitchen, but I changed it after it went out.”

Not exactly what Dean was looking for. “Well, if you think of something that might be relevant, let me know. Here’s my card.” As he reached in his pocket for his card, he wished he had a bandanna he could be reaching for instead. Because his nose was tickling again. What the hell?

The man shut the door and Dean made it two steps down the path. “ahhh-HAHtchuh! H’tchuhhh!” With no with him to see, he didn’t bother covering his nose. There was no one he could sneeze on, unlike Sam’s display earlier.

Sam. How was he doing? It hadn’t even been half an hour, but Dean found himself heading back down the block toward the impala again to check on him.

He expected to find Sam deep asleep in the backseat. Instead, Sam was sitting up, hunched over, with the blanket around his shoulders and a hand waving in front of his face. That was Sam’s way of indicating he felt a sneeze coming on. Or, at least, that was his way when his sneezes gave him enough notice. His face was all screwed up as the fluttery, teasing tickle filled him. Poor Sammy. Dean felt immediately better about parking his little brother in the car for the rest of the afternoon. Sam needed rest if he was ever going to shake this bug.

Sam’s shoulders rose and his body tensed, his mouth dropping open and tongue hanging out. He waved his hand even faster, and his eyes closed tight. Dean waited, not wanting to disturb him right in the middle of a sneeze.

hah-AHShuhh! Hah-Tchuh! Hah—Tuhshhhhhh!

Sam opened his eyes, sniffling, looking through the impala’s window at his brother. He reached over and popped the door open. Rubbing at his nose, he stared back at Dean, who was doing the same thing. “Dean… did you just sneeze?”

Dean sniffed. “Yeah. I’ve got this tickle. Keeps hitting me all of a sudden. It’s nothing.”

Sam wasn’t convinced. “If you’ve caught my cold…”

“I don’t think I have. I think I… actually, I don’t know what it is exactly. But I don’t feel like I have a cold. I don’t feel as miserable as you look, that’s for sure.”

“Oh, that’s nice!” Sam exclaimed with a laugh. “But I do feel pretty miserable. I’ve got this fierce tickle in my nose. It just won’t go away. It’s driving me crazy. And I just can’t seem to snee… sneeze. Ihh! Oh… ihh-hihh… hihhhhh… hih… gotta ihhhhh sn-sneeze-hihh!” He waved his hand in front of his face again, trying to draw the sneeze out. He gasped and panted and leaned forward. “ihhhh… Hihhhhhhhhhh!

hahhh AHShuhhh! Ahshoo! Ahtchuhh! Ahhshhhh!” Dean felt one more, and he heard Sam gasping.

ihhh… HIH—

HAHTchuhhh!” Dean fired off.

The two stared at each other for a moment. Then Dean sniffed. “You still feel like you gotta sneeze?”

Sam shrugged. “A little, but not just now. You?”

“Not a single tickle.”

“This is weird.”

“Completely. Even for us.” This was one of those weird things that should be reported not to police but to hunters posing as fake FBI agents.

“At least we know what we’re dealing with now.”

Dean nodded. “I friggin’ hate witches. Why’d you have to go and sneeze on one, Sammy?”

“’Cause I’ve got a really bad cold.”

Dean leaned against the car with a sigh. “Yeah, I know you do, kiddo. C’mon. Let’s go get us a witch and break this curse before we have another sneezing fit.”

“Too… too late.”

Dean groaned inwardly. “Can you try not to sneeze, Sammy?”

Sam pinched his nose and clenched his jaw. “ih! Ihh! hih! hih!” It wasn’t helping one bit. The tickle was so strong he couldn’t fight against it, and now Dean could feel it too.

Reaching into the car, Dean reclaimed his bandanna and pressed it to his nose.

Hih! Hihhh! Hihhhhh—

“—AHTchuph! Hahshuph! Hah-Ahshuphh!” Dean glared at Sam.

“I tried! Really I did! Sniff! It’s this cold… Sniff!

Dean wiped his nose with the bandanna and stepped aside so Sam could get out of the car.