Title: Fort Winchester

Sequel to Four Hundred Degrees


Fort Winchester


It happened almost by accident. One minute Sam was falling asleep on top of his sleeping bag in the living room, listening to the whirring of the three fans and the stuffy half-snores of his older brother, the next minute they had stripped the beds and cabinet under the sink of every blanket, sheet, and pillow in the apartment.


They had woken up the first morning to bright, hot sunshine pouring in through the windows, even though the blinds were closed. Dean had flailed as if trying to bat the sunshine away and swore when the light moved across the room and landed upon him. Dutifully, Sam had sleepily staggered over to the window and reversed the direction of the blinds before collapsing back onto his sleeping bag.


“Sabby?” Dean’s soft voice had started out the morning. “You all right?”


“Yeah,” Sam had rolled over and stretched out on his back. “Actually, I think it’s cooler down here on the floor.”


Willing to give it a shot, Dean had slid off the couch. Some time passed while he had assessed the situation. Then he had given his brother a smile before straining, reaching all the way back up the couch to grab a hanky. Dean had cupped it to his face as if he were well practiced in the action. “uuhhh… h’CHUFFSH!


Sam had regarded him worriedly. “It was just a thought. If you want to get back on the couch—“


Dean had pulled his pillow down with him, bunching it up under his head. Several of the couch cushions had tumbled down in that movement, and that’s what had given the boys the idea.




 Sam lay beside his brother as they both stared up at the sheets. One sheet was tied to each of the five hooks at the top of the coat rack. Each spread out and down from there, forming a tent around the center of the living room, under which was a sea of comfort. Blankets and unzipped sleeping bags were spread across the floor. Couch cushions and pillows surrounded the two of them as a ring, letting them lounge against the piles while the piles themselves held down the ends of the sheets. All the fans were trapped under the tent, which trapped their cool breezes inside.


“Just one more day?”


Dean coughed and sat up on one elbow. “Sorry, Sammy. It’s got to come down today.”


“But…” Sam closed his eyes, feeling the fan blow across his skin. “Dad’s only leaving Vermont today. You said he wouldn’t be home for two days.”


“When he called, he said he was leaving. But if he drives through the night, he’ll get here tomorrow. We need to take down the fort, wash the dishes, put Dad’s fan back, and… and… oh…” Dean turned his head. “uhhh-HRschhhhh!


“And wash all of Dad’s handkerchiefs?”


Dean nodded and rubbed the back of his wrist under his nose. It was bright red from all the attention over the past week, but not dripping as it had been. “Let’s start with the couch.”


“Let’s do the fans last.”




Dean’s breath caught once, twice. Then he sneezed freely, the spray hitting his chest and the sneeze coming out much louder than he’d intended. “uhHUHSCHHHHH!” A single nightstand made of empty crates stood between the beds of the Winchester boys. And, atop it, sat a roll of toilet paper. Dean reached for it and wiped his nose with a clump that was far rougher than the hankies had been.


Sam rolled over in his bed. “Dean? Are you okay?” He blinked in the darkness, making out Dean’s shape but that was about all.


Dean sighed. “Sorry, kiddo. I didn’t mean to wake you.”


“You didn’t. I wasn’t asleep.”


“Not asleep? It’s…” Dean checked his watch. “It’s three in the morning.”


“It’s too hot to sleep in here.”


“I know.”


“I miss our fort.” He remembered Dean standing on a chair, tying off the sheets as he passed them. He remembered starting and then finishing the first library book they’d read together since Sam had learned how to read. He remembered making herbal tea for Dean in the kitchen and then pouring it over ice and crawling with it under the blankets and cushion that formed the entrance to their fort. He remembered eating dinner and listening to Dean’s music so loud he almost couldn’t hear Dean sniffle. He remembered staying up late, telling stories to each other; ghost stories took on a whole new meaning when you knew ghosts were actually real.  


“I miss it, too. We’ll do it again the next time Dad leaves.”






That was so great to hear, it didn’t even matter that Sam didn’t entirely believe him.