Lavender Bear


Written for cowboyguy, December 2017


PROMPT: Sam's been having migraines, so Dean gets him a teddy bear that also functions as a cold/heat pack . Problem is, this particular bear is also an aromatherapy bear, and it turns out Sam is really allergic to lavender.



Dean stared at the bear. This was stupid. Sam was a grown man, not his baby brother. He didn't need a teddy bear. And, at the same time, Dean was desperate. Over the past few years, they had tried everything—everything—to ease Sam's migraines: over-the-counter medicine, herbal treatments, prescription strength medicine, kooky new age items, acupuncture. Sam had even had a CAT scan to make sure it wasn't a tumor. Some things made the migraines a little less worse, but nothing got rid of them completely.


This bear with a cold pack inside claimed to be a comfortable way of making a headache “bear-able.” It was also infused with the scent of lavender, promising to be a soothing bonus to help you fall asleep. So even if it did nothing to help the migraine, it might help Sam sleep. And that was almost as good, really. Dean threw the bear in his basket and trudged up to the front of the store to pay for all this. He didn't mind spending money or going to stores at all hours of the day to make Sam feel better, but sometimes it was hard to watch so much of his hard-earned money going into to medicine that probably wouldn't end up making a bit of difference. Sam's migraines were, well, supernaturally bad.


“Got a headache?” the cashier asked, making eyes at him from behind the register. On any other day, he might have put on a “poor me,” routine and talked her into seeing him that night. It would just take a little charm. But Sam was back at the motel in the worst pain of his life, and Dean couldn't leave him alone for any longer than absolutely necessary.


“My brother does,” Dean replied, handing over the cash and taking his bags. There was enough food to last them the day and into the morning. Dean had already resolved to take Sam to the hospital again if the migraine lasted longer than that. It had been two days already.


Dean tried to be as quiet as possible when he got back to the motel room. But jangling keys, heavy boots, and five plastic bags of food and supplies announced his presence. Sam moaned, probably reacting to the light and the sudden noise.


“Sorry,” Dean whispered, setting the bags down as soon as he was inside. But the groan hadn't come from the side of the room with Sam's bed. It hadn't come from the bathroom either. It took a second for Dean's eyes to adjust in the darkness, but then he could make out a Sam-shaped something on the floor next to Dean's bed. He heard the rustles and clunks of familiar items and knew Sam was going through his bag.


Fuck! What was Sam doing in his bag? Their bags were the only private things they had left in the world. Their bags were practically sacred. It's where Dean kept his clothes and his photos and his porn and his weapons. Weapons? Double-fuck! “Sam, what you are looking for?”


“The colt,” Sam whispered back, his voice low and strained.


At once, Dean got his knife out. Was there a high level demon here? A vampire? Anything could be hiding in this darkness. Instantly he switched into hunter mode, ready to kill anything that needed killing. “What is it?”


“Can't... stand this... anymore. I just... need to make this stop.”


As he put his knife away, Dean crossed the room. He squatted down and slid the bag away from Sam. Sam gave a strangled, frustrated cry and lunged for it, but he wasn't fast enough. He fell forward, onto the carpet. Then his legs curled up to his chest and his hands both grabbed at his head. He cried out again as a fresh wave of pain hit him, retaliating against him for making a quick movement.


Dean shoved his duffle back under the bed and grabbed Sam's arm. Sam moaned in pain, but Dean ignored him and escorted him back to bed. Sam's body uncurled as it stood and hobbled over to the bed. Then it curled right back up on himself. Sam made a terrible gagging sound and his breathing quickened.


“Hey...” Dean sat on the edge of his bed and rubbed Sam’s back. “Calm down. It's okay.”


“S'not okay! It hurts! Hurts so much!” Sam moaned, on the verge of tears. He held his head in his both his hands, fingers scrabbling against his skull, as if pulling on his hair or rubbing the skin could ease the pain out of it somehow. “Wanna die. Please... please kill me.”


“I'm not gonna kill you, Sammy. I just spent fifty bucks buying stuff for you.” When he got up, the bed shook and Sam moaned again, begging Dean to kill him again.


Dean popped the cold pack inside the bear into the freezer. He put the perishables into the fridge. Then he pulled out the air-activated cold pack and cracked it to activate it. He brought it, a bottle of water, and some of the medicine over to Sam's bed. He knew Sam wouldn't want to take any pills right now, not when he was worked up like this.


He laid the cold pack on Sam's forehead to start with. “Move it to where it hurts, kiddo.”


Sam moved the cold pack to one side of his head, then the other, then the back of his head, then his forehead again. He couldn't put it in every place it hurt simultaneously, because his whole head hurt, so he kept moving it. But, as he did so, tears started down his cheeks. Dean wasn't sure if that was because the pack was so cold or because this was finally helping or because no matter where he put it nothing helped. Dean didn't ask about them, he just took a tissue from the box on the nightstand and wiped Sam's face. “This will pass. You'll be all right,” he tried to reassure Sam.


But Sam shook his head and cried harder. “Won't. It's never gonna stop. Hurts... worse than anything...”


Sam had been through a lot. He'd seen his girlfriend burned alive on the ceiling. He'd had psychic dreams. He had died and come back to life—multiple times. He'd been addicted to demon blood. He had been trapped in a cage with Lucifer and Michael. And he had had his soul ripped from him and replaced with a wall around it. For this to hurt even more than any of that was saying a lot. And Dean knew that no matter how bad it must be, he would endure it himself in a heartbeat if it meant being able to take it from Sam. Seeing Sam in pain like this was heartbreaking. Sam had even forgotten they didn’t have the colt anymore.


Right now, Sam writhed on the bed, working himself up. Dean knew that would make it worse, but he also knew he couldn't tell Sam not to move. Sam had to move himself into whatever position felt best to him. The problem was, he didn't feel better no matter how he moved. “Make it stop. Please, Dean... please, Dean!”


“I'm trying, Sammy. I promise I won't stop trying until I find you something that helps.” He rubbed his hand up and down Sam's back, though he didn't seem to calm from it. He cried and squirmed and moaned. And he still begged Dean to kill him every few minutes.


At some point, he asked for the television to be on, to help him take his mind off the pain. But the moment Dean clicked the set on, Sam whimpered and said it was too bright and too loud and made things worse. So off it went again.


This seemed to go on for hours. At some point, Dean started to explain about the various medicines and how Sam could take some now. But Sam only cried harder and Dean had to stretch out behind him on the bed, holding him from behind as a constant, strong presence, and massaging Sam's skull for him to calm down. Eventually, Sam managed to choke down three pills, knowing they probably wouldn't do a thing. Dean had Sam chase them down with a few gulps of bottled iced tea, which was high in caffeine. Sam clutched his stomach, feeling nauseated. His migraines often made him sick to his stomach. But this time he just looked unsettled and queasy. Dean rubbed his back and massaged his skull and, slowly, Sam released his stomach and moved the cold pack to the side of his head again.


After a while, Dean's fingers started to hurt. He wasn't sure how much longer he could keep this up. At least Sam was only crying with an occasional sob every so often. His body had mostly relaxed, resigned to the constant, terrible pain in his head.


“I've got something for you in the freezer,” Dean told him finally. “I'll be right back, okay?”


Sam's nod was almost imperceptible. He whimpered in what sounded like an affirmative, and Dean pulled himself away from Sam's warm back. He got the cold pack from the freezer and tucked it into the small, soft bear. Then he lay back down on the bed and pressed the fluffy thing against the back of Sam's head and neck.


Sam stiffened for a moment at the sudden cold. Then he relaxed. “What's that?”


“Cold pack,” Dean told him. Then, because he knew what Sam was really asking, “It's in a teddy bear.”


Sam laughed. He actually laughed. And Dean felt himself smiling, grateful to hear a sound he hadn't heard in... well, it had been a long time.


“It's got lavender in it, too. Supposed to help your headache and maybe help you sleep, too. So if you start feeling like you might nod off, don't fight it.”


“Kay...” Sam replied. He moved the other cold pack to his forehead and held it there, cold permeating from two directions. Maybe it was the medicine starting to kick in or maybe it was the lavender, but his whole body relaxed. “Dean...  I feel like...”


Dean whispered, “S'all right, Sammy. Just go to sleep. I'll look after you.”


But Sam's body suddenly tensed up and shook with a violent “Hih-TChahhhh!”


Dean reached behind himself to the nightstand for a tissue and handed it forward to Sam. Sam took it but didn't move. The expression on his face was one of excruciating pain. Sam gripped the tissue in his hand so tightly his hand shook, his knuckles white. “Sammy?” Dean couldn't ask if his brother was all right. Obviously Sam wasn't all right. But he looked like he might be having a stroke or something.


“That... hurt...” he squeaked out. He wiped at his nose, his whole body trembling as the fierce edge of pain dissolved back into the constant pain he was more used to. “Didn't think... it was possible... but it hurt even more when I... I...”


Dean could see that sneezy expression back again on Sam's face. He didn't know what he could do, but he wrapped an arm around Sam's body, holding him close, trying to keep his body from shaking so much.




It didn't help. The pain gripped him, and his body shook as he tried to endure it.


Dean's heart sunk. This was the worst time for Sam to have a tickly nose. Was he suddenly coming down with a cold? Was he chilled from the cold packs?


“heh-Chihhhh! hah-Shahh! hahhh-hahChuhhh! hehh-CHAHHH!”


Sam screamed in pain, clutching his head, eyes squeezed shut with tears running out at the corners. Dean pulled the bear away, scared that the extra cold pack might have been responsible.


“Nose...” Sam gasped, lifting a shaking hand to his nose and scrubbing so hard. “Won't stop tickling! hah-hah-CHIHHH!”


Sam pressed the pad of his hand against his temple and screamed again.


Dean thought about suggesting Sam try to hold in his sneezes, but Sam's sneezes were so strong, he suspected that might actually be even worse for his head. Besides, the sneezes were happening for a reason; holding them back might mean sneezing even more.


But what was causing this? What had changed? Just the...


Reaching back, Sam pushed the bear away and raked his fingernails against the back of his neck, scratching over and over again.


“Sammy... are you allergic to lavender?”


“Dunno... seems like... like... hah... oh no... hih not... not again hah-CHIH! SHIHHH!” He rolled around in pain, crying. And by the time he stopped, the bear was gone. The sneezes weren't, though. “hihh-IHCHH! Heh-CHIHHHHH! Hehh... HEH-CHIHH!”


Instead of screaming or squirming or crying, Sam lay motionless. Dean stared, shocked. “Sammy?” Sam didn't move. His eyes were closed, his breathing was slow. “Finally asleep?” Dean asked. And Sam, unconscious, did not answer.


Sam didn't wake later that day or that night. Sam slept for thirteen hours straight, and Dean tip-toed around him t he whole time, scared of waking him up. He watched television with the sound off and closed captioning on. Using Sam’s laptop, Dean searched online newspapers for anything strange. And he got some sleep as well; taking care of Sam nonstop for days was exhausting. When Sam finally woke, he was stiff and groggy, but his migraine was entirely gone.


“At least we can be glad about that,” Dean said. “And I think I found us a job. You definitely feel up to going? We can pick up some breakfast on the way out of town.”


“Sounds good.” Sam stretched again and got up to help Dean gather their things and pack up. “Hey,” he asked after a little while. “Where's that bear?”


“The...” At first, he'd thought Sam was asking about the six-pack of beer he'd already transferred into the cooler. Then he remembered. “Don't worry. It won't make you sneeze anymore.” He gestured to a bulging plastic bag, the handles tied in a knot. “It's in a Ziplock inside another Ziplock inside about thirty plastic bags. There's no way it can hurt you now. Figure we’ll give it a grand sendoff over a bridge or something.”


“No!” Sam’s response was so quick and unexpected, Dean gave a start.


“No? Sam, you’re allergic to it. We’re not keeping it.”


Sam sat down on the edge of his bed and rubbed a hand over his forehead. “The pain was so bad I wanted to die.”


“I wasn’t going to let you off yourself, Sammy.”


Sam nodded. “Yeah, I know. And I appreciate that after the fact. But at the time, I just wanted it to stop. And that bear made it stop.”


“It made you more miserable.”


“It made the pain so bad I passed out. But when I woke up, the migraine was gone. Gone.  Not just dulled for a little white until the drugs wore off again, but gone. So I want that thing around in case things get that bad again and I need it for backup.”


Dean looked down, unable to see it through the bags but knowing the bear’s furry little face was smiling back at them. They were hunters. They saved the world. And now this drug store teddy bear was their backup? But he couldn’t say no when Sam needed something. “Whatever you want, Sammy. Just… try not to have another of these migraines again for a long time, okay?”


They both knew Sam couldn’t make any promises, couldn’t control this. But Sam nodded as if he could then grabbed his bag and the wad of plastic bags encasing the bear and carried them to the car.