Day 12

Title: Day 12
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: Dean returns to the bunker from a hunt to find Sam's still sick.
Notes: Written for my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2017-18 project project for Anonymous.

Caked in mud, Dean walked stiffly into the bunker. For some reason, he expected to find Sam exactly where Dean had left him, at the table, eating lunch in front of his laptop. But there was no Sam, just a table covered in balled-up tissues. Dean checked the kitchen, hoping to find a freshly baked pie waiting for him. There was no Sam and no pie either, but Dean was starving and put together a quick sandwich while he was there.

“Sam?” he called as he ate, waddling down the hall toward the bedrooms. He heard Sam before he saw him, the man's gasps as his sneeze built so loud he might have even heard them back in the kitchen.

ihhhh! Yihhhhh! Hihhhhhhh! Ihhhhhhh!

Dean followed the sound toward a bedroom and hovered outside, waiting for the sneeze to hit. Just when it seemed it would, there was nothing. The feeling must've gone away. Aw, man. That sucked. Dean hated when that happened.

Dean stuck his head around the corner and found Sam curled in bed, a bunch of tissues clutched to his nose. Poor kid. “There you are. I expected to hear you sneezing from down the hall. You're so quiet, I wasn't sure you were even here. Thought you might be out on a hunt of your own.”

Sam glared at him over the tissues. He didn't look or sound like he was in any condition to get out of bed let alone go hunting. That was why Dean had gone out on this one alone. It was also why Dean alone was covered in dried, cracking mud.

“Hey, I'm going to go get cleaned up. Unless you want to hear all about my hunt.”

Sam started to shake his head. “De-ihhhhh! Ehhhhh!

“I’ll take that as a ‘Dean, I’m so glad you’re back after handling those eight vampires all on your own.’” Dean laughed, waving dismissively in Sam's direction. Dean turned and headed for the bathroom. He was in the shower before he could hear Sam's sneezes. Prying the clothes off took some time, but the hot water running over him felt fantastic. He stayed in for far longer than usual, washing his hair twice to make sure it was completely free from mud. With a fresh pair of jeans and a flannel shirt on, and with a towel around his shoulders, he headed back to Sam.

He wasn't sure at first which door was the right one. They hadn't been in the bunker that long and Sam was still getting used to the place, trying out rooms and beds until he found the right one—a veritable Goldilocks. That was a good. He'd have to use that one on the kid.

Ihhhh! HIHHH!” Dean heard Sam winding up for another sneeze and headed for the second door down on his right. Sam's build-ups were more like breadcrumbs. Maybe it wasn't Goldilocks at all but Hansel and Gretel?

Dean strode into the bedroom. “Hey, Sammy. If you were a fairy tale, which one do you think you'd be?”

Nose buried in tissues, Sam glared at him again.

“Not in the mood for games?”

Sam shook his head. “I... ihhhhh! I c-c-c-cuhhhhhh-hihhhhhh!

Dean sat down on the edge of Sam's bed and patted his leg through the covers. “You sound just as bad as when I left three days ago. Have you been like this the the whole time I was gone?”

Sam shook his head again. “I-ihhhhh! IHH! HIHH! HIHHHH!

Dean tensed up. He knew what Sam sounded like right before he sneezed; Sam sounded just like this, his breath quickening, growing stronger and undeniable. He saw Sam tense too, about to sneeze.

But then he didn't. Sam waited. Dean waited. But then Sam sighed and let his breath out, shaking his head the whole time.

“Ha-ha. Got a stuck sneeze?”

Sam closed his eyes and fell back against his pillows. Dean noticed they weren't the same pillows Sam had been using when Dean had left him.

“Did you change rooms again while I was gone?”

Snuffling, Sam nodded and held up three fingers.

Three rooms meant three beds and three sets of germ-filled sheets. “So... basically you're saying we're going to be doing a lot of laundry when you feel better?”

Sam smiled weakly and rolled onto his side. His every breath sounded thick with congestion, and he kept the tissues to his nose, probably because it wouldn't stop running. Poor kid was so full of cold. Dean wished Sam would just give one huge sneeze and be done with the whole thing. Where Dean's colds usually shifted to coughing after a day or two, Sam's were usually filled with sneezes, sneezes, and more sneezes until they were over. On some days the sneezes just wouldn't stop no matter what he did. And it seemed like maybe this was one of those days. “Can I get you anything? Are you eating okay? Drinking enough?”

His eyes closed, Sam just shrugged. “ihhh...” Another sneeze. “Ihhhh I haven't-hehhhhh! Hehhhhh!

Dean patted Sam's leg again. “I'll go make you a sandwich.”

Buh-uhhhhhhh! Ihhhhh! Hihhhhhhh!” Sam waved a hand at Dean, trying to signal him about something.

“Yeah, I'll remember to throw some lettuce on there. Don't worry. You hang in there, okay? I'll be right back.” Dean was used to Sam being clingy when he was sick; that wasn't a surprise. When they'd been kids and he'd been down sick with something, he used to get agitated when Dean wasn't in plain sight. Dean considered wrapping Sammy up in a blanket and walking him to the kitchen, but it was just a sandwich. It wasn't going to take much time. And Dean had just been gone for days; Sam could handle being without him for a few minutes.

When Dean got back from the kitchen, Sam was already sitting up... sort of. He was on the edge of the bed but bent forward at the waist, tissues in both hands, tears at the corners of his eyes. “Ihhh! Hihhhhhh! HIHHHH!

“Sounds like a big one,” Dean observed. “You sure you can handle it on your own?”

Dean was expecting another glare but, instead, he got a whimper. And that made him a little worried.



But the sneeze Dean expected didn't come. “Another stuck sneeze?” How many did this make it since Dean got home? Three? Four? And how many actual sneezes? Dean thought hard and eventually came up with nothing. “Sammy... is something wrong with you?”

Gasping and sniffling, Sam pried his watery eyes open and nodded. There was relief on his face, though. Probably he'd been trying to tell Dean this the whole time.

Dean didn't feel relieved, however. Something like nerves settled in Dean's stomach as he set the plate and sandwich aside. “Can you tell me?”

“I... I've behhhhhh! I've been try-ihhhhh! Hihhhh! Ihhhh... trying.” Dean sat down next to him on the bed and rubbed his back.

“Try again.”

ihhhhh! Ihhhh! Hihhhhhhh! Hih-Yihhhhhhhhhh!” Sam rocked forward with each breath, trying to force the sneeze out. His gasps were so strong, and they seemed to take his whole body. They were massive, all-encompassing.

But they weren't sneezes. No sneezes came. Not even one.

Sam swayed, leaning into Dean. For such a big guy to look so weak, it was more that worrisome; it was unsettling. “Sam, have you been doing this a lot, this almost sneezing thing?”

With another whimper, Sam nodded.

“And how long has it been going on?”

Sam thought. And he took so long to think that Dean suspected Sam had just fallen asleep. As he debated laying Sam down versus prodding him for an answer, Sam lifted his hand with two fingers held up.

Two. Two what? It had been longer than two minutes, that was for sure. “Two hours? You've been winding up to sneeze for two hours without actually sneezing?” That sounded torturous and beyond frustrating.

Sam shook his head. “No... ihhhhh!” It was starting again. Sam nuzzled his face into the tissues. “Ihhhhh! I hahhhh-haven't hehhhh! Hehhhhh! Hihhhh! Haven't been able to sn-sn-snehhhhhh ehhhh! HEHHHHH!

They both waited expectantly. And they were both disappointed.

Sam blew his nose into the tissues and groaned. “Two days, Dean.”

“Two days!” Dean exclaimed.

Sam nodded.

“What, did you just forget how to sneeze? Or did so much reading just drive the knowledge right out of your head?”

“I don't know what's.... I... ihhhhh I just need to ehhhhhh sneeze s-so-ehhhhhh! Need to sneeze so bad.” Sam waved his hand in front of his face. “I c-c-ihhhh! HIHHH! HEHHH! HEH-IHHHHH!” Frustrated when the sneeze didn't come, Sam blew his nose again.

“Hey, don’t worry. I’ll help you out.” Dean tried to make sense of this. Sam needed to sneeze, but he couldn't sneeze. So what made Sam sneeze? “Have you... I don't know... tried pepper or something?”

Sam sighed. “I've tried ev-hehhhh! ever-Hehhhhhhh! Everything. HIHH!” He paused a moment to not sneeze again, and then he sighed, his shoulders sagging. “Nothing works.”

Dean made a show out of rolling up his sleeves, getting down to business. The least he could do was try to reassure his brother. “That's 'cause I haven't tried yet. Hand me that Kleenex box.”

Desperate, Sam grabbed the box and thrust it at Dean. 

Dean took a tissue out and rolled up one corner. “This always works when I’ve got a stuck sneeze.”

Sam laughed. “Get these often, d-do you?”

“Shut up and let me help you.”


“Bitch.” And, with that, Dean slid the pointed tissue up Sam’s nose.

Sam exhaled sharply and shivered. Assuming he must be cold, Dean thought about grabbing one of the blankets and pulling it around Sam’s shoulders, but he didn’t want to stop what he was doing. He wiggled and twirled the tissue and Sam reacted just as Dean knew he would.

ihhh… Kehhhhh… Hnn ehh ehh ehh ihh EHH HIHH! De-eehhh! Hehhh! S’dot IHH! IHHH! Dot wor-IHHH! Dot workig!” Sam pulled away, coughing and gasping. He scrubbed two fingers under his nose until the tickle backed down. Then he wiped tears from his eyes and cleared his throat. “That just made it worse.”

Dean pitched the tissue into the trash can by the bed. “Sorry. I really thought…” He sighed and fell back on the bed. “Why can’t you sneeze? Did something happen while I was gone? Did you get hit in the nose or fall down or something?”

“No, nothing. I made some s-uhhh… some soup and slept a lot. I sneezed a lot, too, until I didn’t.” Sam fell back on the bed beside Dean. His breath began to hitch again with another long build-up. “ihhh! Ihh! Ihh! IHH! IHHH! IHHHH!” If he had sneezed, the spray would have gone up in the air and rained down on their faces, so for once Dean was glad he didn’t sneeze.

“I don’t know how to fix this,” Dean admitted. “I don’t understand what’s going on.”

“I know,” Sam said. “It’s ehhh! It’s ok-ahhhhhhh! Hahhh! Sor-ehhhh! Sorry Hehhh! HEHHHHH! EHHHH!” Sam’s fist struck the mattress in frustration. “I just want to sneeze!”

“I know, kiddo. I don’t blame you.”

ihhhhhhh… Hehhhhhhh!” Sam reached past Dean for the tissue box. He pulled a couple out and blew his nose into them. Then he tossed them over the side of the bed.

Dean got back up. “Least you can do is not leave your snotty tissues all over.” He got down on all fours to gather up not just the two Sam had just pitched but the other dozen or so scattered around. Sam was lucky that Dean would do anything for him. Dean would sell his soul to bring Sam back from the dead. Dean would give up the hope of banishing all demons just so Sam would be all right. But Dean almost drew the line at touching Sam’s used tissues.

As he reached his hand under the bed for one more, his hand brushed something strange. It wasn’t hard like the wooden bed slats or soft like the boxspring mattress. It was… rough and small and round. Abandoning the tissues, Dean reached for it, hoping it wasn’t a giant spider or a giant snake or some sort of supernatural animal leftover from the last time the Men of Letters occupied this place.

What he pulled out was instantly recognizable as a small, burlap hex bag. It was caked in so much dust it almost made Dean sneeze. “Oh hell no.” He rubbed his nose with his fist as he grabbed for his lighter, set it ablaze, and tossed it into the trashcan. It went up in flames, but so did the tissues inside, and Dean had to pour water into the metal trash can to keep the flames from leaping out. Then he turned to Sam. “What the—”


Dean sat back down on the bed and rubbed his hand over Sam’s back and Sam hunched forward again, this time sneezing repeatedly into a handful of tissues. “There we go. See, I told you I’d help you out.”

Sam glared at him over the tissues for a moment, but mostly he just looked relieved. “Ihhh HIHHHSHOOO! HEHTCHOOO! HEYSHHOOO!”  In fact, he looked more than relieved. He looked thrilled. He looked blissful. Though he also looked super sneezy, his face all slack and his nose all twitchy.

“I’ll, um, give you some space. You’ve got two days of sneezes to sneeze. When you’re done, come find me, and I’ll tell you all about the hunt.”