Day 7

Title: Day 7
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's got a cold but doesn't want to worry Dean.
Notes: Written during my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2019-20 project project for Symphonyflute

Damn, it was great to have Dean back. Sure, it meant being bossed around on a hunt. It meant eating at greasy roadside diners. And it meant having to listen to Dean’s music in the car. But none of that was really so bad. Sam would endure every second of that and more just to have his big brother back again. This time… this time he’d really thought Dean was gone for good.

Sam had never before been so happy to be wrong.

And now here he was, creeping through the halls of the bunker, listening for any sound that might indicate Dean was nearby. Typically, at this time of day, Dean was in the garage, tuning up the Impala. This is why Sam thought it an acceptable risk to leave the privacy of his bedroom to make a quick trek to the kitchen. Because Dean couldn’t find out that Sam was sick. If he knew, he would immediately shift into big brother mode with all the worrying and fussing and overprotecting Dean was so good and practiced at. Sam hoped he could get over his sniffle quickly so Dean would never know about it. Dean would stay in relaxed, happy mode where he deserved to be.

It just meant that Sam had to suffer by himself, hidden away in his room until his head cleared and nose unclogged. It wouldn’t be so hard to do, except for the issue of food. Sam couldn’t live on granola bars and room temperature Gatorade alone.

As he approached the kitchen, he felt a sneeze coming on. His first instinct was to look around to make sure Dean was still nowhere in sight. When it seemed safe, he lifted his bent arm and buried his nose right in the crook of his elbow. With his free hand, he pushed his arm hard against his face, the extra pressure making sure less noise escaped. “h’chffffff!” He waited, bent forward. His sneezes almost always came with a buddy, and with the way his nose tickled right now, he didn’t dare lower his arm until he was sure another sneeze wasn’t on its way. “hhh!” Ah, there it was. “hhhh… h’chufffff!” Feeling much better, he opened his nose. Nothing around him had changed. There was still no Dean anywhere in sight.

With a sigh, Sam dropped his arm and hurried the rest of the way to the kitchen. He resisted the urge to make himself eggs or pasta. A full meal would take far too much time. So as he heated up water in the electric kettle, he put a pot on the stove and dumped a can of chicken and vegetable soup into it. Quickly handwashing some veggies for later and gathering mug, bowl, and silverware on a tray, he tried to keep himself occupied while waiting for water to boil. The longer everything took to be ready, the more chances there were that he might sneeze. And the more chances he might sneeze meant a stronger likelihood that Dean would discover he was sick.

As much as he would have really liked Dean to have taken care of him right now, it just wasn’t worth making his big brother worry. So he rubbed at his nose with one hand, trying to stave off the tickles while he got his food ready and loaded up the tray. He was just about to pick it up when he realized what a terrible idea that was. Immediately he turned and nuzzled his face into the crook of his elbow again. His breath hitched silently, the little gasps completely muffled by the sleeve of his thick sweatshirt. 

His nose felt so ticklish he just wanted to rub at it to make it feel better, but he couldn’t risk a sneeze slipping out where it could be overheard. So he tried to relax and let the sneezes come, though keeping them as quiet as he could. “hhh… hh… hhhhh-ehfffffff! h’chiffffff!” His nose still felt ticklish, though. Ticklish and runny and full. His head felt clogged and light and dizzy. His throat was sore and too hot and hurt when he pressed his tongue to the roof of his mouth. Over the years, Sam had had plenty of colds. He’d hunted through fevers. He’d interviewed witnesses even though he had the sniffles. Once he’d forced a demon from a young woman’s body by squeaking out just enough Latin in a voice he’d lost from too much coughing and congestion. Compared to other colds he’d had, this one felt infinitely worse somehow. “h’CHffff!” He pressed his sleeve harder, smashing it against his face. “h’chifffff!” He sniffed imperceptively into his sleeve until his nose was under control again, wishing he could blow his nose. But that would be far too loud and too painful to do without the soft tissues he had back in his bedroom. Industrial paper towels from the Men of Letters’ supply closet weren’t going to feel too good.

With one more glance back at the door to be sure Dean hadn’t come up behind him, Sam scooped up the tray and carried it carefully back to his room. Even if he were in the garage, Dean would come running if he heard the crash the tray and dishes would make. Every little tickle in his nose made Sam more and more worried. He didn’t relax even as he got back inside his room, closed the door, and set the tray down on the desk in his room. His only joy came in the success of his mission. It wasn’t the sort of feeling he got after a good hunt or even a breakthrough in a case he was proud of. But it was still better than a failure. Otherwise, he felt far too miserable to relax.

Grabbing some tissues from the box, he covered his nose and mouth with the tissues and then both hands to muffle the sound. “heh h’cheeffffffff!” He gasped for breath then blew his nose before he had a chance to sneeze again. He blew again and again then fell back onto his bed, exhausted. He wanted the soup and the tea and knew they’d both be better enjoyed before they could get cold. But he also wanted to lie here in bed and sleep for three days straight so he could wake up when the worst of this cold was over.

With a soft groan, Sam forced himself to sit up. But the movement made his head swim. The congestion shifted as his head went dizzy. He grabbed another tissue and hunched over, as if sneezing toward his lap would be quieter. “huh…” Sam pressed his hands to the lower half of his face as his nose quivered, eyes closed, and breath caught.  “huhhh… hnnn!” Sam tried his best to hold it back. “hnn! Nngg! Hnngg!” But the urge to sneeze was just too strong. “huhhh… hihhhh… hihhh HIH!” He pressed his hands and the tissue harder to his face. “h’chmmmffff! heh-shmmmmff! h'shfffff!” Resisting the urge to groan, he refolded the tissue and blew. At this rate, he’d never get to his food, but he just couldn’t shake that sneezy feeling. His tongue was heavy, the tip pushing against his bottom teeth as his breathing hitched uncontrollably again. “heh!” He grabbed two tissues this time and held them over his nose and mouth. “hhhh… hyuhhhhh… huhhh… hh hh hh hbbshhhhffffff!” It seemed loud, even muffled like this, and Sam wondered how terrible it would be if he were sneezing unrestrained. With a shiver and a promise to himself to stay vigilant, he blew his nose again.

“Sam?” the knock on the door followed by Dean’s voice made Sam jump. He was glad he wasn’t holding a mug of tea or bowl of soup at the time, or Dean would have heard him yelp as he spilled it; Dean would come barging right in, full of concern.

“Uhh, yeah?” Sam rubbed a tissue at his nose. Could Dean hear the congestion in his voice? Hell, had Dean heard those sneezes? He must have; why else would he be here?

“I was just going to make a sandwich. You want one?”

It took a few seconds for Sam to believe that was all Dean was asking about. And then it took a few more seconds to figure out how to reply. “I just ate,” he said, trying to avoid words that made him sound especially stuffed-up.

“Oh. No sweat, then.”

Sam listened for retreating footsteps, but he didn’t hear any. Of course, he hadn’t heard the ones approaching his door either. His nose tickled again, of course, and he rubbed it with a tissue. Then, when the tickle grew stronger, he rubbed it with the back of his hand. Then the side of his hand. The intense, fluttery, full feeling in his nose made him feel like he was going to sneeze no matter what he did.

“What’d you have?”

What was this? Was Dean just curious? Food was one of his favorite topics of conversation, so maybe he genuinely, innocently wanted to know. Or maybe there was an ulterior motive. Maybe he suspected something was wrong with Sam. Maybe he thought Sam wasn’t eating.  Or maybe he knew Sam was sick. Sam tried to think of foods that he could say and not sound congested, but then he realized he had left the dishes out in the kitchen. In a few moments, Dean would know he was lying. So he squeezed his nose between thumb and forefinger, gave it a hard rub, and then answered truthfully, “Tea, salad, and soub.” He winced, holding his breath, rubbing his nose some more.

There was a pause, and then Dean replied, “Okay. Sounds good. Catch you later.”

Sam didn’t dare sigh, for fear that might tickle his throat and make him cough. But he did feel a measure of relief at the words and the sound of Dean’s footsteps heading down the hallway. Dean had sounded so casual, so normal, so happy. Sam reached for his tea, surer than ever now that he needed to figure out a way to hide this cold from Dean for as long as it lasted. If that meant staying in his room and lying through the door, so be it, but he wouldn’t be the one to bring Dean down and make him worry again.

The steam from the tea did make him cough a little, which he did into his arm, partly-restrained and muffled well. He soldiered on, drinking down the tea, eating most of the soup, and picking at the salad. Normally, he would have been grateful for something healthy and filling… but his head felt heavy and stuffed-up, and he found that he wasn’t really that hungry by the time he got to the salad.

He ended up leaving the tray on his nightstand and curling up on the bed again. But the moment his head hit the pillow, his nose started tickling madly. Maybe it was the change in orientation again or maybe it was the chill he felt. Or maybe it was just time, but he suddenly felt terribly sneezy. The prickling in his nose was so intense, he knew he didn’t even have time to grab a tissue.

Raising his arm to his face as he sat back up, he gave a quick but deep gasp and let out more sneezes at once than he had sneezed all day combined. “hshffff! H’chfffff! Hehshhfff! hihshffff! Shfff! Shifff! HEHShffffff!” Feet firmly planted on the floor now, Sam gripped the edge of the bed as the sneezes snapped him forward. “hushfff! Chfff! Huhchfff! Heh…” The tickle felt like it would never go away, like he was doomed to sneeze and sneeze forever. Surely, he couldn’t hide from his brother forever if that were the case. “hhshffff! Heshhffff! hehshhhfffff! Huhshfffffffff!

Feeling like he had to do something to stop the onslaught, he blindly reached for the tissues, his hand hitting nothing but blankets and wood and wall. “hshhfffff! Hehshffff!” His eyebrows were knit together, the tip of his tongue resting against his bottom teeth, his whole body shaking with every sneeze. “hehhshffffff! HEHShhfffff!” Finally, his fingertips found the edge of the tissue box and grabbed at it, pulling close. He pulled several tissues out. “hshhfffff!” Realizing how wet his sleeve was getting, he pulled out several more, as many as would fit in his hand at one time. There couldn’t be that many left in the box, but now wasn’t the time to be conservative. Now was the time to calm his runny, tickly nose. So he quickly made the swap—arm for tissue-equipped hand—and blew his nose.

The relief was immediate. But the sound was unnervingly loud. Quickly, Sam dove under his covers, using the quilt and pillow to muffle the sound. He blew and blew until he didn’t feel like sneezing so much, and then he blew a few more times. Then he froze, listening for footsteps. Dean had to have heard some part of all of that. Sam waited for his interfering big brother to barge in and call him out.

But that didn’t happen. There was nothing but silence outside his door. No footsteps. No knock. No Dean.

With a sigh, Sam relaxed. He readjusted the covers around himself and laid his head on top of his pillow rather than beneath it. The cool air that hit him when he emerged tickled his nose again, but rubbing at his nose caused the tickle to die back down. So Sam curled around the precious tissue box. With tissues and both hands tight against his face, he gave his nose one more blow. Maybe, if he were especially lucky, he might keep from sneezing long enough to fall asleep?

heh-SHUHH!” The sneeze struck so suddenly, Sam had no time to muffle it in his elbow or even cover his nose with his hand.

Again, he listened for any sound of Dean, tense and frozen in place, nose running. He didn’t dare even sniffle. Seconds passed, and he heard no sign of his big brother lurking outside the door.


Sam gave a start, the bedsprings giving their own cry of alarm as well. He rubbed his wrist at his nose then pinched it at the bridge, hoping he sounded normal and casual when he replied, “Hey!”

There was a pause during which Sam thought his heart might have stopped. He realized he wasn’t breathing and forced himself to take a slow, quiet breath that didn’t tickle his throat too badly.

“Just open up, man. I don’t want to keep talking to you through a door.”

Sam knew it was a simple enough request. He could to his feet and caught sight of his reflection in the small mirror tacked to the wall above the dresser. He didn’t look especially sick, but he didn’t exactly look well, either. But he honestly couldn’t think of an excuse he could give to keep his door closed. There was no good reason for him to be sleeping at this time of day if he weren’t sick. There was no good reason for him to be changing clothes or showering in the middle of the day. Anything he came up with would sound more suspicious than the truth.

So he gave his nose a hard rub, hoping the tickles could hold off for just a few minutes. Sam resigned himself to whatever fate was in store for him, free will be damned, and opened the door.

Dean stood there with a steaming cup of tea in one hand and a big box of tissues in the other.

Doing his best to look confused and not trusting his voice, Sam let his furrowed brow do the talking for him.

Dean was not fooled for an instant. “What medicine did you take for this?”

“Uh… for…?”

“For your head cold, Sammy. What’d you take? Just Tylenol, or did you break out the green stuff already? ‘Cause I gotta say: if you did, it’s not working.”

 A tiny smile escaped Sam, but he drove it away as he cleared his throat. “I dod’t dow what you’re talkig about.”

This prompted Dean to smile, and his stayed put. “With your nose all stuffed-up like that from your cold, I don’t know what you’re talking about, either.” He pushed the tea forward into Sam’s chest. It nearly spilled, the liquid sloshing up to the rim but not over the side. There were two teabags steeping, their strings dangling over the side, and Sam could read the label as his herbal tea. Had he left it out after making himself a cup? Dean answered before Sam could ask. “Found this buried in the back of the cabinet. It’s the stuff you like to drink when your throat hurts, right?”

“Yeah,” Sam answered, his voice sounding scratchy and full of defeat. He accepted the mug and took a sip before it could get cold. Though he knew it wasn’t magic, that’s exactly how this felt.

Dean walked past him and sat down on the edge of Sam’s bed, tissue box in his lap. He checked the other box and nodded. “Looks like I arrived just in time. Like always.”

Sam hesitated then walked back to his bed. He held the mug in both hands, taking a little comfort in its warmth and a lot in the way it coated his throat so his draining sinuses didn’t irritate it so much. “I, uh, did’t wad to worry you.”

Dean let out a laugh. “I wasn’t supposed to worry about you suddenly hiding in your room? Hell, I’m just glad it’s a cold and nothing worse. Didn’t want to come back and find out my brother had been turned into a werewolf or a vamp or been taken over by demons.” Dean pulled the last couple tissues from Sam’s box and traded them for Sam’s mug of tea.

Sam looked at them for a moment, slightly confused for just a split second before he felt a sneeze coming on. His breath caught and eyes closed. Then his body tensed and he pitched forward, letting the sneezes come naturally. “hehhh-TCHhooo! Heddtshhhhh! Heh…“ Sam felt Dean’s hand pat his back, and he relaxed a little more. “H’SHOOO!” He snuffled and blew into the tissues, then wiped his nose dry. It was impossible to express how good those had felt. This relief wouldn’t last long, but he’d take what he could get.

“D’you want me to go get you the green stuff?”

Sam hesitated, torn between wanting Dean to fuss over him and to not admit this cold was so bad.

“I’d be happy to do it.”

Sam nodded and took back the mug of tea. “Thadgs, Dead.”

Dean flinched at the word that sounded far too close to his name and, for a few moments, neither of them could speak. Sam felt bad about causing pain and worry—the one thing he’d been trying to avoid. And Dean… well, Sam didn’t know what was going on in his big brother’s mind, but he could guess it wasn’t anything pleasant.

“I’m glad to be back,” Dean said finally. “I know you can take care of yourself out there. But I’m glad to know you still need your big brother for some things.” He picked up the empty tissue box and tucked it under his arm. “I’ll be right back, Sammy.”

Sam smiled and nodded and sipped his tea, knowing that was the truth. Dean was the one constant in his life, and it was so great to have him back again.