Title: Four Hundred Degrees

Fandom: Supernatural

Pairing: None (Gen)

Rating: PG-13 (for swearing)

Disclaimer: Certainly not my guys! No money made!

Meme Prompt: No, Sam, I do not want to breathe in steam, because it's already 300 degrees in the shade and that won't help this stupid cold. Now shut up and leave me alone until Dad gets home.



Four Hundred Degrees




On his back, with the grass tickling his ears, fourteen-year-old Sam Winchester watched the clouds pass lazily across the bright blue sky. It was too hot out to do anything else—walk around the neighborhood, kick a ball around, even sit under a tree to read. So he just lay there with his hands resting on his chest, watching the sky. Even when they were on the road, there was always the sky. Sometimes it hung over a house filled with ghosts, sometimes it zoomed past outside the Impala’s window at sixty miles an hour. It wasn’t often he got to appreciate it stationary and over his own home.


Okay, so the apartment building wasn’t like having a real house. But this was the first summer Dad hadn’t pulled him out of school early or packed them up to leave the day after the school year ended. It was the first year he had ever spent at least part of a summer in a familiar town. Except now it was too hot to do anything in town. He couldn’t walk down to the park to see if kids were playing soccer. He couldn’t go to the pool, because they didn’t have the money for the membership fees. He couldn’t go get an ice cream because Dean wouldn’t let him go that far into town alone. But Dean had snapped at him that morning. Twice. And Sam had gotten the feeling he should stay clear of his older brother.


So had gone outside, even though it was about a hundred degrees in the shade. And after kicking a couple twigs down the sidewalk and watching an ant crawl around his shoe, he’d gotten bored. Ten minutes and already bored. Sam had flopped onto his back in the grass and had watched the clouds.


And a seed pod. It was a tiny brown dot surrounded in fluff, caught in the extremely slight breeze so that it danced about in the air. He watched as it floated one way then another. He thought about reaching up and trying to catch it, but he didn’t want to interfere in its natural path. He also didn’t want to expend the energy in this heat. Knowing him, it would probably make him sneeze anyway; he didn’t have the best track record when it came to trees and pollen.




Sam sat up. Then looked around. He’d spent too many days in the backseat of the Impala next to Dean suffering from a head cold not to know what his brother’s sneeze sounded like. “Bless you!”


Dean stood on the stoop, keys jingling in his hand. “If you’re just gonna sit there all day, I’ll go back in. But I thought you were bugging me to take you to—“


“The library?” Sam asked eagerly, scrambling to his feet. “Really?”


“Yeah, well, they’ve got air conditioning there, right?” Not knowing how long they were going to stay in this town, Dad hadn’t sprung for window air conditioning units like most of the people in their building had. All they had were three small floor fans, one in each bedroom and one in the living room. They didn’t do much more than blow air around.


“Yes, it’s air conditioned.”


“Then get your butt in gear.” Dean gestured to the car and followed behind. Dean got in, groaning at the heat that had built up inside the black car; Sam couldn’t blame him.


Sam felt his legs stick to the fabric of the seat and the metal of the seatbelt buckle was almost too hot to touch safely. “It’s sooooooo hot.”


Dean rolled his eyes and huffed as he backed out of the parking spot and started toward the library. With the windows rolled down and Dean driving a little above the speed limit, the temperature inside the car dropped from dangerously broiling to merely uncomfortably hot.


Despite the heat, Dean sniffled. A whole lot. In fact, he barely stopped sniffling. Sam could hear it, even though the wind rushing through the car was loud. Dean probably thought he couldn’t hear. But Sam had been trained too well to notice things. And now he noticed the way Dean rubbed his knuckles at his nose and the way his nostrils flared with strong sniffs. Sam noticed him breathing through his half-open mouth.  Sam noticed his furrowed brow. Sam noticed his tensed shoulders.


But even if Sam hadn’t been quite so observant, he wouldn’t have been able to miss Dean actually sneezing. “uhhhhh-KISHHHHH! Huh-KRSHHH!


“Bless.” Sam smiled knowingly as Dean sniffed some more. Those weren’t just any sneezes. Those were the sort of sneezes Dean sneezed when he was sick. “You know, if I had a bicycle, you wouldn’t have to drive me everywhere. I could go to the library any time I wanted.”


“And Dad would skin me alive.”


“Dean, a Demon isn’t going to chase me down on a bike and snatch me.”


“How do you know?”


Sam crossed his arms over his chest. “You guys make me do all your research. I know things. Demons don’t ride bicycles.”


“Maybe not, but they could be waiting for you when you get off it. You don’t get free license to ride all around town whenever you want, Sah… Sammy… huhh-UHSChhhhh! Huh-Kuhshhhh!


“Do you want to stop for tissues so you can blow your nose?”


Dean glared sideways at his brother for a moment, jaw clenched.


 “You know, I can tell you’re coming down with a cold.”


Dean’s knuckles were almost white as he gripped the steering wheel so tight. He cleared his throat. “You know, I can turn this car right around and take you back home.”


Sam shook his head and didn’t say another word until they reached the library. Then he mumbled a thank you to his brother and practically raced to the entrance.


As the automatic doors swung open for them, the cool air hit them straight-on, enveloped them, and welcomed them. Dean seemed to relax. He patted Sam’s back. “Go get your books.”






Dean watched his brother practically bounce away, losing himself between bookcases.


Dean straight walked past the checkout counters to a different section of the library. He grabbed a copy of Hot Rods off the magazine rack and slumped into one of the chairs. Sam could spend hours in a library—and had, on other occasions. There were worse places to spend part of a day. He still felt overheated, but he wasn’t sweating so much now. In a short while, he would cool down; he was already comfortable.




Okay, not completely comfortable. As he wiped his hand on his jeans, he glanced over at the librarians at the returns desk then at the other patrons. No one was looking at him, but they had to have heard. His sneezes sounded worse in here—louder, wetter. He almost wished he’d stayed home.


Almost. Damn, it was hot outside. Dad was off on a hunt in Vermont this week. Dean had begged to go, but it wasn’t the sort of hunt where Sammy would be useful, and Dad didn’t want him getting in the way. Which meant that Dean was stuck at home babysitting. Though now he was kind of glad of it. He hadn’t been feeling so good all day, so he wouldn’t have been much use to Dad anyway.


uhh!” Dean cupped both hands to his face. “huh… h’TSCHHHH!” Ugh. He wiped his hands against his legs as discretely as possible. Having made it only to the second page of the magazine, Dean set it down on his chair to mark his spot. Then he darted over to the bathroom, conveniently located near the magazine section.


He pulled a handful of toilet paper off a roll in a stall and blew his nose until it didn’t feel so tickly any more. It was warm and stuffy in the bathroom, so he splashed cold water on his face before heading back out. The magazine was right where he’d left it on the chair, and he resumed reading.


This time, he made it three pages. “huh-KTShhhh! Uh-h’Shuhhhh!” Dean sniffed and sniffed, ignoring the look a guy passing by gave him. So what if his nose was tickly? It wasn’t anyone’s business but his own. “huhh-URSChhhhh!” God, he’d just done it, but he needed to blow his nose again.


Cupping his hand over his nose, he put the magazine down and went back to the bathroom. This time, he leaned against the wall while he blew and blew. His nose didn’t want to quit running. And as soon as he finished wiping it dry, it started tickling again. “huhh-IHTCHHHHHH!” He’d thought the sneezes had sounded loud before in the library; now they boomed and echoed, filling the small, silent bathroom. “uhhhShuhhh! uhhhKITChhhh!” They sounded ten times worse than he felt… and he was starting to feel pretty rotten.


No: sick. He was starting to feel sick. This wasn’t just a small case of sniffles. Clearing his throat and dropping the toilet paper into the trash on the way out, Dean went back to his magazine.


Except his magazine wasn’t there. The chair was empty. He looked around, finally finding it back in the magazine rack. Some librarian must have thought he was done with it and reshelved it. Dean thought about leaving it there, going to find Sammy, and telling him they were leaving. But Sam had been whining all day to come to the library and this was the first bit of peace he’d had. So he decided to let Sam have his fun. And at least it was cool in here. Dean pulled the magazine from the rack, flipped to where he’d left off, and tried reading again.


But is head started thumping. His eyes felt tired with a strange fuzziness behind them, wanting to close instead of concentrating on the words. So he flipped through, looking at the photos instead. Cars. Cars he could never afford. Advertisements for parts and features he could never afford. He couldn’t even tear himself away from reality to dream while browsing through a damn magazine.


heh… uhh… uhh-HUH-UHRSchhhhh!” Dean smothered it into his hand, but he was already winding up for another. “Uh-HUHshhhh!’ Oh shit, now it was dripping. Dean tossed the magazine on the chair next to him and retreated again to the bathroom. People were in the stalls already, so he grabbed a paper towel and wiped at his nose. He balled it up and tossed it, quickly, when the toilet flushed and someone came out of the stall. He cleared his throat and tried to look casual as he slipped inside the stall, locking it behind him. He pressed toilet paper to his nose until the other occupant of the bathroom left. Then he went to town.


It seemed like he was blowing his nose for an hour before the runniness gave a little. He didn’t want to be doing this here. He was sick. He wanted to be sick at home, not hiding in a public bathroom blowing his nose.


When he finally emerged, his nose felt sore and he felt  exhausted. He looked over at where he'd left the magazine to find it wasn't there again. This time, though, it wasn't in the rack either. Someone had taken it. Dean took it as a sign. He wanted to go home. And, this time, he was going to make it  happen. Dean started looking for Sammy. He checked the children’s section and  didn’t see his brother. He walked through nonfiction, familiar with the  supernatural section and local history sections, but that was about it. He  tried the other side of the library, where the teen books were. Then he tried  general fiction, mysteries, even graphic novels. About to give up and wait for  Sam to come find him instead, Dean finally found Sam hiding out in the science  fiction section. Sam had a stack of books in one arm blocking his chest from  waist to chin, under which the books were tucked to keep them from tumbling.  “We’re going.”


Sam’s grin faded. “Ten more minutes? I just want one more b—”


“No, now.” Dean rubbed the back of his hand against his nose. It was tickling again and he wanted to get out of here before he sneezed again. “You have enough.”


“I need to check out.”


Dean nodded as Sam led the way. He hovered by the exit, waiting for Sam while trying not to trigger the automatic doors. The tickle in his nose flared up, the urge to sneeze rising. Silently, he urged Sammy to hurry up.


As soon as Sam was done, they were out. He surprised himself by making it to the car. “uhhh-HUHShhhhhh! Hur-IHTChhhhhhh!


“Bless you.”


Dean shot him a look, and Sam opened up one of his books, hiding his face behind it.


It was impossibly hotter now in the car, like two hundred degrees. Dean’s t-shirt stuck to his sweaty chest, so he plucked at it. The air was thick with heat. It was hard to breathe, hard to clear his head. He tried to concentrate on the driving. That was job number one—to not run them off the road on the way home. Job number two was to get home as fast as possible. He was feeling worse by the second, his head and skin on fire, sweat dripping down the sides of his face, the back of his neck. And his nose… just wouldn’t stop tickling.




“Hey, Dean?”


Dean groaned inwardly and bit his tongue to keep from telling Sam to shut up.


“Can we stop at the grocery store on the way home? I could pick up some food and you could get tissues and—”


Dean’s breath hitched again. He held tight to the steering wheel. “uhhh… huhhh-HUHshhhhhh!” He needed to sneeze. He needed to get home. He needed to rest. “No.”


“You don’t even have to get out. I could just run in and—”


“No.” Why wouldn’t the kid just let this go for once?




huh-UTSCHHHHH!” Running. His nose was running. And he didn’t have anything to rub it with. He could wipe with the back of his hand but that wasn’t going to work for long. And he had on short sleeves, so he couldn’t wipe his nose on them. Out of options, he lifted the collar of his t-shirt and pulled it up over his nose. “h’EHPshhhh!” He wiped his nose on the collar and dropped it.


Sam finallydropped the subject as well and went back to his book. Even though he kept glancing over at Dean, he didn’t say another word about it.


When they got home, Dean locked the door behind them and dipped his hand into the container of salt they kept next to it. He laid the line fresh and thick across the threshold. Then he threw himself onto the couch.


And, for one glorious second, everything in his world was okay. He’d gotten them home in one piece. He’d made it up the stairs and into the apartment. Sammy was safe. Sammy was happy with his books. And Dean was home and horizontal and able to crash. He’d head this cold off with some sleep before it could get any worse and it would be gone by the time Dad got back from his hunt in Vermont. Finally he could relax.


“uh…” Almost. “huhhhh…” Dean turned his head, plating his face in the couch cushion. “huhhh-H’mphhh! uhhhChmffff! H’uhtshmphhhh!” Sniffling, he lifted his head and blinked at the cushion. At least he had the energy and the brains to flip it over and rest the side of his face on the dry side.


Just a second later, he felt uncomfortable. The couch fabric was too soft, too warm against his side and back like a warm hug. He wanted to get up, to spread his arms and legs and cool back down, but he was too tired. Maybe he could fall asleep before he got too hot.


“Can I get you something, Dean? A blanket? Your hoodie? Some tea?”


Dean looked up as if his brother were insane. “No fucking way. It’s three hundred degrees in here, Sammy. All I want is some peace and quiet. Get it?” He sniffed. “And maybe something mindless to watch on TV.”


Sam flipped through the channels until he found some NASCAR coverage. The cars raced around the track in circles, lap after lap, hypnotizing Dean into sleep.






Sat on the floor beside the couch, legs folded, book on his lap. The fan was on its highest setting as its arc traced from one side of the tiny living room to the other. It was louder than the television. But both were quiet whispers compared to Dean’s snores. They were so loud, the first one made Sam jump in surprise. But he’d heard his brother snore before; Dean only snored when he was really stuffed up with cold.


He needed something to unstuff him. When Sam caught colds, Dean microwaved bowls of water and then made Sam hang his head over them with a towel over his head. The steam always loosened him up. A hot shower would probably do the same. But Sam wasn’t likely to talk Dean into one of those.


Besides, sleep was another thing that was good for colds. Sam tried to think of something else that would help. When he was sick, Dean gave him kids’ cold medicine—bright orange stuff with dancing animals on the side of the bottle. He had a feeling Dean wasn’t going to take anything with a smiling raccoon looking back at him. Dean was eighteen now; what did adults take when they were sick? Sam got up and checked the medicine cabinet in the bathroom they all shared. There was always stuff in there that wasn’t his; razors, aftershave, condoms… there were the pills they give Dad for his head the mornings after he comes home drunk, the antiseptic they pour on wounds before stitching them up, and a bottle of holy water. Sam was willing to bet none of his classmates kept a bottle of holy water in every room of their houses, just in case. They probably had tons of obvious cold remedies in their medicine cabinets. They probably had boxes of tissues in the linen closet instead of a crossbow. They probably had fathers who worked normal 9-5 jobs and were home every evening to take care of their own kids when they came down with colds.


Sam thought about calling Dad. Or Uncle Bobby. Or Pastor Jim. But he was only supposed to call in case of real emergency. And, compared to a demon trying to break into the house Dean sneezing a couple times more than usual wasn’t exactly an emergency.


Sam sat down on the toilet seat lid and tried to think about the last time he’d been sick. Dean had wrapped him up in blankets. Dean had filled up the hot water bottle every half an hour. Dean had fed him tea and tomato soup with rice. None of these things seemed like very good options right now. Dean was right; it was unbearably hot in their apartment. So he’d have to come up with something else.


He sat back down by the couch. Dean’s cheeks were flushed red. His nose was a bit pink at the tip as well. Sam knew he couldn’t be comfortable, but he knew better than to wake a sick, sleeping Dean. So he opened his book and started to read.


The Nascar race ended. Sam didn’t pay attention to the winner. Afterward there was local news, which he only half listened to. Just as that was ending and world news was beginning, Dean woke up. Coughing. He woke up coughing. And sounding awful. “What the hell? Why’d you chadge the chaddel, Sabby?”


“I didn’t. The program ended. It’s past six-thirty, Dean.” His stomach rumbled with hunger. Sam tried turning a page at the same time to cover the sound, but Dean must have heard it.


“Shit. Didder. You’re hudgry.”


Sam shook his head. “I could make something. Maybe… tomato soup with rice?”


Dean groaned into the cushion. “Too hot for that! I’ll… huh… uhh-URSChhhhhh! KShhhh!” Dean shifted uncomfortably, pushing against the cushions, rolling onto his back. He scrubbed his wrist and back of his hand at his nose, while sniffling. Then he waved his hand at his face to fan himself. Sam noticed his shirt was dark, soaked through with sweat.


Sam got to his feet. “Dean, I really think—“


Dean’s eyes rolled upward. “Sabby, would you shut ub? I dod’t feel well add I dod’t deed you tryig to helb. Do, I dod’t wadt to curl ub udder bladkets or dridk tea or whatever other forb of torture you have id store for be. Just leave be the hell alode for the next few days!” His body shook with raspy, moist coughs until he sat up and leaned forward a little. The amulet Sam had given him for Christmas years ago swung freely, back and forth.


Sam stood there a moment, watching his older brother get his breathing back under control. Sam found himself almost mesmerized by the movement of the amulet. Then, gathering his confidence, Sam pointed across the room toward the bathroom. “As I was saying, I think you should take a cold shower.”


With the back of his wrist pressed to his nose, Dean looked up. “What?”


“It’ll cool you down. Plus you can get out of those jeans. You must be hot. It’s, well, it’s like four hundred degrees in here, right?”


Dean lowered his arm, sniffling but smiling. “Okay. I’ll take a shower.” He pulled himself up and shuffled to the bathroom, stripping off his t-shirt and undershirt along the way.







Dean had tried a cold shower. But even he, burning up, couldn’t stand that for long. So he had turned it down to cool and had stood in the shower for almost half an hour, just letting the water rush over him.  He changed into a clean white undershirt and boxers before heading back out. The wave of warm misery hit him the second he got out of the bathroom, bringing back all his irritation from before the shower: He was sick. Dad was away. It was hot. And Sammy was bugging the shit out of him.


He thought about going straight to bed, but he still shared his bedroom with his little brother; Sammy was going to find him wherever he went. So he headed back to the couch, preparing to flop back down on it. But he stopped short of his goal. The couch now had two crisp, white sheets covering the cushions. His own pillow was at one end, waiting for him, elevated on one of the couch cushions. Sammy’s sleeping bag lay out in the middle of the living room floor. The television and all the lights had been turned off except for the one in the kitchen, where Sammy stood, making something.


As Dean lay down on the couch, he sighed with relief. It was still far too hot in the apartment, but the sheets were cooler against his skin than the plush couch had been. His head sunk into his familiar pillow. It was only then that he realized all three of their fans were in the living room, spreading across the room in full, continual coverage. Calling this an improvement was an understatement. In fact, Dean was smiling when Sam got back.


Sam carried a tray and set it down on the floor. “I made you a sandwich. Just cold cuts and cheese. It’s okay if you don’t feel like eating it, but I thought—“ Dean stuck his hand out, inviting Sam to hand it over immediately. He hadn’t really been hungry until he’d seen it; then he couldn’t eat it fast enough. “I brought you some ginger ale, too, and some Tylenol. I don’t know if that’s what you’re supposed to be taking, but I thought…”


Dean popped two pills in his mouth immediately and washed them down with the ginger ale. The glass was sweating in the heat, filled with ice cubes from bottom to top that clinked as he drank from it. But the little fizz bubbles of carbonation tickled his nose. He set the drink down just in time. “huh-EHHshhhh! uhhIhshhh! Hishhhh! H’Ushhhhh!


“Bless you.” Sam, sitting on his sleeping bag with his own sandwich half-devoured, tossed a square of cloth at Dean.


Dean caught it and inspected it a while, not sure what to do with it, but sniffling as he contemplated. Dad had never lent him a hanky to use before, not even when he’d been smacked in the face on a hunt and his nose had gushed blood.


“I took a whole stack of his handkerchiefs,” Sam explained, gesturing to the pile next to him. “I’ll wash them before Dad gets home. He’ll never know.”


Somehow, Dean didn’t believe that. John Winchester knew everything. But his nose was running. And he did have to sneeze again. So Dean pressed it to his nose. It was cool and soft against the worst of it: his reddening, tender nostrils. “huh-huh-“ For a moment he hung there, almost as if the sneeze was scared of incurring John Winchester’s wrath as well. But then it struck, and he snapped forward. “HFschmmmmm! Uh…” Dean blew his nose, relieving so much pressure in such a simple little act.


They ate in near silence—their chewing and Dean’s sniffling and occasional coughs the only soundtrack. When they were done, Sam collected their plates and took them to the kitchen. The water in the sink ran as he rinsed them off and the dishes clanked when he loaded them into the dishwasher. Then he opened the fridge door and got something out.


Leaving the kitchen light on, he came back to the living room with something for Dean in hand. He held it out like a peace offering. Or a peas offering. “What’s that for?”


Sam turned the bag of frozen peas over and over again in his hands. “It’s like a cold pack. Put it against the back of your neck or just hold it and you’ll stay cooler. Maybe you’ll be able to get comfortable enough to sleep?”


At once, Dean took it. He didn’t want to look too eager, but that really had been a great idea. Within seconds of pressing it to the back of his neck, his throbbing headache backed off. Dean lay down, closing his eyes, but keeping the peas in place. He cupped the hanky to his face as his nose ran again. But he didn’t feel like falling asleep just yet.


He opened his eyes to find Sam sitting on the sleeping bag, legs crossed, a book spread out on his lap. By the light of his flashlight, he was reading one of his new library books. “Hey, Sabby?”


Sam looked up. “Is the flashlight bothering you? Sorry!” He turned it off immediately.


“Doe,” Dean gestured toward Sam. “Could you read sobe of it to be?”


Sam turned the flashlight back on and Dean saw him flipping back a few pages to the beginning of the book. Taking a deep breath, he began to read aloud.