TITLE: Calling for Help

PROMPT: When Sam’s sick the only place he can get any sleep is all squished and bundled up in the back seat of the Impala. King-size motel bed? Doesn’t do it. The comfort of his own room? Not happening. The Impala is home, and it’s the only place he wants to be when he feels crummy.
NOTES: Written for my 2018 April meme


Calling for Help


Dean tried to tell himself that if Sammy didn't want to have anything to do with the family, then Dean shouldn't care what happened to him. Sammy was the one who yelled and stormed out. Sammy was the one who thought he was too good for hunting. Sammy was the one who left for Stanford and didn’t look back. But when Dean's phone rang at four in the morning and Dean saw the calling number had a 650 area code, he answered right away. “'Lo? Sammy?”


“Dean!” He sounded weak, panicked.


Dean sat up. He glanced over at the other bed, but his dad was fast asleep, probably partly courtesy of that bottle of Jack Daniels that sat on the motel nightstand. It was the middle of the night, but Dean felt suddenly more awake than he had in days. His heart raced. “What's wrong?”


“I need... I... can you come?”


Dean must be tired; he must not have heard right. Or maybe he was dreaming this. Surely, Sam hadn't asked this. “What?”


“Can you come to California? I don't... feel... Please, Dean?” He sounded desperate. His voice cracked. “Please?”


“Yeah.” Dean scrubbed a hand up and down his face. He fought back a yawn. “We're in Montana, about seventeen and a half hours away.”


He heard Sam whimper and realized that Sam didn't have seventeen hours. If he was desperate enough to call, things must really be bad.


“I can get in the Impala and drive straight there. I'll be there in fifteen hours. Maybe sooner. All right?”


Sam's reply was a meek “Okay.”


Dean got out of bed and started pulling on his jeans and a flannel. “Hang on, Sammy. I'm on my way. Just hang on.”




Every damn apartment complex looked the same. Where was Sam's unit? Frantic, Dean drove around, his phone ringing and ringing, calling the number that had called him. But no one picked up. “Don't be dead, Sammy,” Dean chanted to himself out loud. The Impala was quiet and empty and foreboding. “Don't be dead. Don't be dead. Please, don't be dead.”


As he drove around, looking at all the apartment buildings, none of which seemed to have a number clearly posted on it, Dean started to have a sinking feeling in his chest that all of this had been for nothing. He was so close. He'd driven all day and sped from state to state in order to make it in just a little over thirteen hours. It was five thirty and the sun was just starting to set and where the hell was his little brother?


There! He'd know that lanky, brown-haired form anywhere, even with it sitting on a curb, hunched over, arms wrapped around his legs. Grateful just to know his brother was alive, Dean parked the car in the closest space. Then Dean jumped out and ran at full speed around the front of the car and down the block to Sam. He had two knives, a gun, and a flask of holy water on him, but he could go back to the car for more if he needed it. With one hand on Sam's knee and the other on Sam's back, Dean planted himself on the curb. “I'm here!” he panted. “I'm here. Sammy, what's wrong?”


Sam lifted his head, and Dean braced himself for a terrible sight. He thought there would be blood or tears or maybe half of Sam's face would be missing. Instead, Sam just looked tired. His cheeks were a little flushed and his nose was red around the nostrils and just beneath his nose. Dean stared, trying to make sense of what he was seeing.


Then Sam's head snapped downward, toward his knees. “Ahh-KIHTTSHHHH! Hahhh-KIHSHHHHH!


Dean rubbed Sam's back in a circle. “Sammy, are you… sick?”


Sam nodded, sniffling. “Bad cold. Terrible cold. Awful, horrible, miserable cold. Hah-hahh-KIHTSchhhhhh!


Dean hung his head and took several slow, deep, deliberate breaths.


“You’re not… mad… are you?”


Shaking his head, Dean started laughing. His shoulders relaxed and so did the rest of his body, tension and terror slipping away entirely. “No,” he laughed. “I just drove for thirteen and a half hours, pretty sure I was going to find your mutilated body lying dead in your apartment. Thought you might have something supernatural coming after you, and instead you're just a little sneezy? Jesus, Sammy!” He wiped tears of laughter from his eyes. “I'm not mad... I'm relieved.” Then he punched Sam in the arm. “Don't you ever do that to me again!”


Sam nodded. “Sorry. I... hahh... ha-KIHTchhhh! KIHTSHHHHH! Sniff! Sniffff!


Dean pulled his bandanna out and handed it over. “Bless you. Here. Clean up your nose, kiddo.”


Sam wiped his nose with Dean's bandanna but kept sniffling. “I'm sorry I called you. Sniff! But I didn’t know what else to do. I haven't slept in three days, and I was tired and sick and so desperate.”


“You sounded desperate. That's why I got right into the Impala.”


“I needed the Impala.”


Not expecting this response, Dean froze. “You... what now?”


Sam lifted his hand and gestured in the direction of the car. “Help me up?”


With some pulling and shifting, Dean managed to get up and get Sam up to his feet as well. Sam was unsteady on his feet, dizzy and weak and exhausted. It wasn't easy to keep hold of Sam and get the car door open, but the moment the backseat was accessible, Sam crawled in. He curled up on himself but, because of his height, his body still stretched all the way across the seat. He leaned his head against the far door, closed his eyes, and sighed a deep sigh. He shivered a little and crossed his arms over his chest, but otherwise he looked contented.


“You sure you wouldn’t be more comfortable in your own bed?” Dean asked, looking at the way Sam’s back curved and legs bent so that he could fit in the backseat.


“Positive. I… I…” He cupped his hand over his nose and mouth. “kahhh-KEHSHhhhhh!” Sam shivered but stayed put.


Making his way to the trunk, Dean got out both the blankets that were there. He also found a pretty full tissue box. Dean leaned in to give the box to Sam, who immediately hugged it to his chest. Then Dean wrapped a blanket around Sam, who bunched the blanket up under his head as a pillow. Satisfied, Dean slid into the driver's seat, stretched his arm out across the back of the seat, and looked over his shoulder at his little brother, a college student with a rotten cold who couldn't have looked happier now if he tried. “You all right now?”


“Mmm,” Sam moaned sleepily.


“Seriously, this is all you wanted?”


Sam opened his eyes as he considered his answer. “I wouldn’t say no to some food. Sniff! Or some Nyquil.”


Dean smiled. “I think I can help out with that.” He turned the keys in the ignition and his baby came to life. Looking even happier, Sam let his eyelids droop. He was asleep before Dean had even finished ordering at a drive-through.


Raising himself up a little and reaching back, Dean shook Sam awake. “Burgers and fries incoming!” He tossed a brown bag back to Sam.


Sam was slow at first to dive into the food at first. But then his breath caught and he instinctively pulled a napkin out of the bag and held it to his face. “hahh-ahhh-KIHTChhhhhh! Hah hah-KAHShooo!


Dean plucked a few fries out of the container and set his food down on the seat right next to him. He had ordered about twice as much food as normal, as he hadn’t made many stops in his haste to get to Sam as fast as possible, and now that the fear and adrenaline were gone, he was starving. He also wanted to make sure there was enough food on hand for Sammy.


Though he kept an eye open for a pharmacy as he drove, Dean kept glancing into the rear view to see how Sam was doing. Sam struggled to stay awake in order to eat. He chewed with his eyes closed. He coughed in-between bites. And he sniffled almost constantly. Even though they hadn’t seen each other in years, this felt comfortable to Dean. He didn’t feel the need to talk; he and his brother were in the Impala, and that was all that was important in the world right now.


He passed by several grocery stores, CVSes, Walgreens, and Rite Aid pharmacies until he found what he was looking for: a drive-through window. “I know this isn’t medicine but…” Dean tried to talk the woman working the window into selling him a three-pack of tissue boxes along with the bottle of Nyquil and the bottle of Tylenol. He played the sick brother card and gave her his most charming smile. It didn’t hurt that Sam was caught up in a sneezing fit the entire time.

ahhh-KITChhh! Hah-KEHShhhhh! KEHShooo! KEHSHOO!” Sam pulled more tissues from the box Dean had given him, dropping the balled-up, used ones on the floor of the car. “hah hahh-AHHTSchhhh! KETChooo! KACHOO!


As Dean drove away, medicine and tissue boxes acquired, he looked back at his brother again. “You okay back there, sneezy?”


Sam’s mouth was open, his eyes closed, and the last of his dinner abandoned. “Juh… just sneezy. Hahh-AHKShhhhh! This cold is… is… ihhh… hihhhh… hih-KEHSHOO! KAHSchhhh!  KSHHH!


“Bless you, kiddo.” Dean knew the sneezes were far from over, but he also knew Sam needed a little reassurance right now. “Take your time. Get yourself in order. Then you can take some medicine.”


Sam snuffled and blew and sneezed his way through several more blocks. Dean found an interstate and took the car to the onramp, looking forward to the smooth, continuous pavement free of stoplights and intersections. He could always drive for a while in one direction then take it straight back in the other to stick near Stanford in case Sam decided he wanted his bed after all.


hahhh… hahhhh… HIH-AHHKTSHHHH!” Sam blew heartily into tissues and lifted his head. They both expected another sneeze to strike, but nothing came. He sniffed, testing his nose, but the urge to sneeze seemed to have passed. Because when Sam took another deep breath, it was for a yawn, not a sneeze.


“Sounds like you’re ready for this.” Dean passed back the bottle of Nyquil. Sam looked like he wouldn’t need the help falling asleep tonight, but maybe it would help the rest of his symptoms. Sam took a healthy swallow directly from the bottle. Then he settled back into the blankets.


“Anything else you want right now, Sammy?” Dean glanced at him in the rear view mirror, eyebrows raised.


But Sam shook his head. “Just this. Sniff! Just drive.”


“That, I can do.” Dean turned the wheel and got into the middle lane. The motion of the car soothed them both. It wasn’t long before Sam was snoring.