Title: Find a Place to Make Your Stand
Pairing: Sam/Dean (briefly)
Comfort fill for <lj user="ohsam"> 2018 Birthday Meme Prompt: Sam has a very bad very sneezy cold and dean mother hens him and Sam secretly loves it
Fill for my own 2018 Meme Prompt: Can I please have good patient Sam? He’s not super sick or out of it or anything, but for whatever reason he’s happy to let Dean take care of him. As chick flick-y as you like.
Notes: Title is from the Eagles song "Take it Easy" (seemed appropriate)
Find a Place to Make Your Stand
“hnn!” Sam claps a hand tightly over his nose and mouth. He can still feel his nose twitch, still knows he’s going to sneeze. But it gives him enough time to reach over and pull a large, thick napkin from the holder on the table and press it to his face. “ahh-PSHhmphh!” Diners are the best. The food is always made to order and there are plenty of napkins and straws at every table. “ah hahh ahhh-GShhmphhh!” He smothers another ticklish sneeze.
Across the table, Dean angles the newspaper so that he can peer over it meaningfully at Sam.
Sam returns the look—two parts apologetic, one part stoic. He’s fine, his eyes tell Dean. Nothing to worry about here. Because it isn’t something to worry about, not really. Sure, his head feels stuffed with congestion that keeps trying to escape in the wrong sorts of ways. Sure, there’s a dull ache in his temples whenever he moves or, well, takes a breath even. And, sure, it’s seventy-five degrees in this diner and Sam feels chilled as though he were out in the snow without a jacket. But it’s not like he’s possessed by a demon or an angel. It’s not like he’s lost his soul or facing centuries in Hell or a cage or purgatory. Comparatively, he should be so lucky as to have something as simple and mundane as a head cold. So while he’s not fine, he’s probably as close to fine as he has been in a while. The tickly nose is just a nuisance.
“Third murder victim in a week to turn up drained of blood,” Dean says, his face hidden once again behind newspapers. “Authorities are, and I quote, ‘baffled.’ Doesn’t take a genius to know that’s a vampire.” He turns a couple pages, continuing to search. He stops on one page, reading more closely. “Car ran off the road and crashed into the support of a bridge. The passengers in the backseat are in critical condition, but witnesses say no one was behind the wheel at the time of the crash.” He turns a few more pages then switches newspapers. He finds something just one page in. “Couple of kids were found cold and hungry in the middle of the woods. Said their dad was attacked and bitten by something one night and ran off the next night.”
Dean lowers the papers again. He’s frowning as he studies Sam. Then he reaches right across the table to place his palm against Sam’s forehead, feeling for fever. Sam knows he should probably feel embarrassed to have his brother feeling his forehead like this in a public place, as if Sam were a little kid. But he doesn’t feel embarrassed. In fact, he loves it. Truth is, he has always loved the way Dean drops everything to take care of him.
He moves his palm to Sam’s cheek then back to his forehead. “You’re a little warm,” Dean says, pulling his hand back. “Got just a bit of a fever I think. You feelin’ sick?”
Sam nods, because he knows better than to try to hide something like this from Dean. Between the Darkness and Mom and the Men of Letters and Lucifer and Jack and everything else that’s been going on lately, they have been on constant alert. It’s no wonder that the first time they’ve had a chance to slow down a little, something’s caught up to Sam. “Think I got a cold,” he says with a shrug. But his nose twitches, and it’s hard to be casual with his nose twitching with the need to sneeze. He grabs another napkin. “ahh-HIPTchmmm! H’Ishhmmphhh!” He wipes and rubs his nose until it’s dry and the tickles are gone, at least for the moment.
Dean’s just staring at him. Finally, the older Winchester brother nods. “Okay. Let’s go.”
Sam rounds up the napkins—there are more folded and balled up on the table than he remembers using—and he downs the last few swallows of orange juice from his glass. It stings his throat, but he knows the Vitamin C will do him good. As he stands up, he shuffles the four regional newspapers into a rough pile. “Where are we going first?” Sam asks, hoping Dean hasn’t decided on going after the werewolf. The idea of being out in the cold woods for a night or two really doesn’t sound appealing to him; the warm diner is plenty cold enough for him already.
“We’re going home.” He reaches over and gently stills Sam’s hand, directing him to leave all the newspapers where they are.
Staring with incomprehension is just about all Sam is capable of, though he also sniffles a little.
“We’re going back to the bunker where I can keep an eye on you until you ditch this cold.”
Shaking his head, “No, Dean, we don’t have to do that. I’m sick, but I’m not that sick.” Except his nose chooses that exact moment to start tickling again, and it’s stronger this time, and he’s gonna sneeze in Dean’s face if he isn’t careful. He lifts his arm and buries his face in the crook of his elbow. “ahh-HHmmphh! AH-HIMmmphhhhh! Ah-ahh… hahh… HUHShmmphhhh!”
Dean pats Sam’s back and then slides the newspapers to the far end of the table. “C’mon. Let’s go home.” He gives Sam just a little push to get him going. Sam sniffles into his flannel sleeve as he is ushered out of the diner and into the Impala.
As Dean starts the car and heads back onto the interstate in the direction of Kansas, Sam can barely believe this. They hunt through pain and illness and whatever shit is tormenting their minds; it’s what they do, what they’ve always done. The idea of taking time off to get better is a liberty Sam can’t even remember the last time he took. Maybe during the trials? He knows better than to complain, though. The idea of nursing his cold in the bunker is an appealing one. The idea of Dean doing the nursing even more-so.
At his feet in the car is a box of Kleenex, which he grabs and sets on his lap for easy access. There’s also a box of old cassette tapes. He can just make out the albums and artists, but he knows each one’s placement so well from years of being in this car that he doesn’t even have to read them.
Dean must have noticed Sam’s gaze, because he asks, “You wanna listen to some music?”
Sam shakes his head and rubs his sleeve against his nose as he sniffles.
“You can choose.” Dean is unexpectedly magnanimous. He must be worried.
“I’m fine, Dean,” Sam says softly. “I’m really not feeling that bad. Just sneezy. And achy. And a little chilly.”
Dean stretches his arm out across the back of the seat and flips his hand in a sort of inviting wave. “C’mere.” When Sam hesitates to move, Dean smiles and laughs. “Come here, Sammy.” So Sam does.
It’s not the most comfortable position in the world for Sam to rest his head on Dean’s shoulder, as Dean is considerably shorter. So Sam just slides close and leans into Dean’s side as Dean’s arm wraps around him. The fit is comfortable and the warmth is exactly what he needed. “ah ahhh-HIHShuhhh!” And when Sam sneezes, Dean’s grip tightens to keep him from snapping all the way forward from the force. Sam closes his eyes and lets the motion of the car on the open road soothe him into sleep.
He wakes to find Dean trying to get out of the car. Apparently, while sleeping, Sam slid down onto his side, curling up across the front seat, with his head on Dean’s thigh. Dean had draped his jacket over Sam, and none of this would have been a problem if the car didn’t need to stop for gas. “Sorry,” Dean says, rubbing Sam’s shoulder back and forth. “Can you sit up for just for a couple minutes?”
Sleepily, Sam pulls back and sits up. But he feels tired and dizzy like that. So he leans the other way, head against the passenger side window, hugging his arms to his chest under Dean’s leather jacket. He falls back to sleep before Dean’s even back in the car.
Sam loses track of the number of rest stops, gas stations, and fast food joints they stop at. At some point, he wakes up to find a bottle of Nyquil beside him. Later, he finds Dean has draped the gray wool blanket from the trunk over most of him. And it’s the middle of the night when he wakes to find Metallica playing on the tape deck and the Impala smelling so strongly of coffee that Sam can immediately smell it, even with a stuffed-up nose.
“We’re almost there,” Dean tells him, which Sam takes to mean they’re probably only one or two states away now. Sam thinks of his bed in room 21 at the bunker, of the extra-long mattress, the double row of pillows, and the heavy, heavy blankets. That’s all nice, sure, but he’s already got what he needs to feel better; he’s got Kleenex and Nyquil and Dean.
“Here we are.”
“Home sweet bunker.”
“How ‘bout I learn to cross stitch and made a cushion with that on it?”
“ahhhh-HITCHooo!” Sam hasn’t stopped sneezing for the past fifteen minutes, but he manages a smile at Dean’s joke before pitching forward again. “AHSchoo!”
Dean’s got a hold of Sam by the elbow, leaving Sam’s hands free to clutch tissues to his nose. He can’t remember the last time he’s felt so helplessly sneezy, and he tries to detour to one of the chairs in the library where he can rest and just get all the sneezes out before making it all the way to his bedroom. But Dean marches him to the stairs and puts one arm around him, holding tight to the railing with the other. Somehow they manage to get upstairs. And somehow they manage to get to Sam’s bedroom. And somehow they manage to get Sam’s shoes off before collapsing into bed.
Beyond that seems impossible, however, and he’s content to sleep on top of his covers, fully dressed if it means getting his stupid nose under control. His whole body aches from the sharp, repetitive movement. Sam curls up on himself, sneezing, pulling tissue after tissue out of the box. He’s tried pinching his nose. He’s tried blowing it. He’s out of options apart from just letting it have its way with him. And it really isn’t so bad when he feels Dean’s hands rub up and down his back and smooth his hair back.
Sam sneezes, gasps, sneezes again, and gasps again. And just when he thinks maybe this isn’t a cold after all, maybe it’s some curse that’s been put upon him, he gasps and pauses. “ahh-ahh… AH!” And he doesn’t feel like sneezing again just now.
“Done?” Dean asks hopefully.
“For dow,” Sam answers and opens his eyes with relief. Tired and woozy from the medicine, he starts stripping off layers of clothes. Dean takes this as his cue to leave.
But by the time Sam has slipped into sweat pants and gets under the covers, Dean is back. He’s dragging a chair that’s laden with blankets and a pillow, a couple bottles of water, and another box of Kleenex. Dean sleeping here is silly and unnecessary. He knows it’s pointless to tell Dean to leave, that Dean’s going to sleep here no matter what. But Sam starts to anyway. “You dod’t“ is as far as he gets before sneezing again. “ahhh-IHShhhh!”
He reaches for his Kleenex, pulling out the very last one in the box. “ahh-HIHSchhhh!” But he can tell he’s far from done. So can Dean, apparently, because Dean is by his side, handing over his bandanna for Sam to sneeze into. “ahh-IHChhuh! HIHShuhh! Hehshihhh!” And by the time the bandanna is too wet to use any more, Dean exchanges it for the new, now opened box of Kleenex. “Ahshoo!”
It takes Sam another few minutes and a dozen more sneezes to regain control. By then, Dean has already made himself as comfortable as possible in the chair.
“You really dod’t deed to sleeb here,” Sam tells him, propping himself up with all four pillows to give his sinuses a fighting chance when he’s sleeping.
“G’night, Sammy,” Dean says, a smile in his voice.
Sam sighs. “Dight,” Sam echoes stuffily. And, Kleenex filling one fist, he uses his other hand to switch off the lamp by his bedside. Knowing the Dean’s still watching over him in the darkness, he falls right to sleep.
Sam has absolutely no concept of what hour it might be. All he knows is the thump of Dean’s body hitting the floor woke him, and this cannot be allowed to continue. No matter how safe he feels when Dean’s sleeping in the same room as him, it’s not worth the bruises. “Go to bed,” Sam insists, helping Dean to his feet.
“No…” He sounds exhausted but adamant and goes for the chair again.
Sam grabs his pillow and slams it into Dean’s chest. “You just drove halfway across the coudtry after diggig up two graves for a salt add burd. You deserve to sleeb id your bed. I’ve got a cold,” he emphasizes the word as he rubs his wrist at his nose and walks to his bedroom door. “It’s dot bagical. I’b dot dyig. It’s just a cold. I brobise. And I dow where your bedroob is if I deed you.”
It takes a small nudge from Sam to get Dean moving toward the door, and he insists on keeping their doors open.
It takes Sam longer to fall back to sleep this time, without Dean in the room. But he smothers sneezes into his pillow so Dean won’t find out.
Tissue box under one arm, Sam slides into a chair at the kitchen table. Standing at the stove, Dean looks over at him. “I would have brought some breakfast to your room. You didn’t have to get up.”
Sam shrugs. He’s sleepy, but it felt nice to stretch his legs a little after the long car ride and long sleep.
Dean comes over and palms Sam’s forehead again. “Still a little warm. You take any Tylenol today, kiddo?”
Sam coughs and shakes his head. Immediately, Dean leaves to get some; the eggs and pancakes on the stove go unattended for a few moments. Sam thinks about getting up to make sure the eggs don’t burn, but he doesn’t like the idea of sneezing all over Dean’s breakfast.
“ah… HIHShoo!” Sam leans forward, elbows on the table as he blows his nose.
Two pills and a glass of orange juice are delivered to him, and Sam obediently takes them while Dean finishes cooking breakfast. The food doesn’t taste like much to Sam, but it’s warm and fills his belly. Dean says he can make more, but Sam doesn’t take him up on it. He does ask for a refill on the orange juice, however.
Sam’s room isn’t far from the kitchen, so he stops in to grab a hoodie and a pillow. He thinks about getting back into bed. Dean would find him eventually and would more than understand. But there’s something tempting about Dean’s newest offer that Sam can’t pass up.
When he gets to the Dean-Cave (Sam would rather call it that than the Fortress of Dean-a-tude, though neither sounds good when he speaks with a stuffed-up nose), there are two blankets waiting for him on one of the recliners. A glass of orange juice and a bag of cough drops sit on the table between the recliners, along with the remote to a new television.
“This is better than being sick in a motel room, right?” Dean says from the other recliner. He’s got it tilted back with his feet up already. There’s a beer in his hand already.
Sam doesn’t comment that this room reminds him of a strange combination of dive bars and trashy motel rooms from their past. It’s very Dean, but it’s also like being on the road in the Impala. There’s the same music, the same lighting, the same smells. And, therefore, he feels right at home here. He picks up the remote, finds the guide, and flips around until he finds something interesting. Knowing Dean isn’t going to have the patience for a science or history show, he passes those without pausing to investigate. He notices Dean sit a little straighter when Sam gets to a car show, but Sam has absolutely no interest in watching that. And Sam feels far too sneezy to watch porn. Just when he starts to worry he’s never going to find a good common ground, he stops on a terrible B monster movie being heckled by the Mystery Science Theater 3000 cast. Perfect. There’s action and humor all in one. Apparently, the channel is running a marathon all day, though Sam expects he’ll sleep through some of it.
Sam snuggles into the blankets, feeling warm almost at once as they wrap around him in plush and fleece. He’s pretty sure Dean just got them straight out of the dryer. He feels so warm and comfortable, he hates when he has to pull his arms out in order to go for the tissues. But his nose is tickling, and Dean probably won’t appreciate Sam sneezing freely in here.
“ahhh… ahh-IHPTshhhh! Heptshooo! Hahshooo!” Sam switches out a soggy tissue for a fresh one and immediately Dean jumps to his feet. A moment later, Dean is at his side with a small wire trashcan. Dean sets it beside Sam’s recliner and Sam pitches the first of what he knows will be many tissues into it.
Dean is watching him, not the movie. “You need anything else, Sammy?”
Sam can’t imagine what else he could need, apart from a respite from sneezing. “AHKTChhhh! Hah hahh EHPTchhh! Hahchoo! Kshoo!” He shakes his head ‘no’ and retreats back into his blanket and pillow. He’s not embarrassed; Dean’s seen him through colds so many times over the years, and Dean’s definitely seen him through worse as well. But having Dean’s attention on him when he feels so uncontrollably sneezy still makes him blush a little.
“How about a cool compress for your forehead?”
Sam shakes his head. “I… I… I’m fiii-HAHShooo! hehhShuhhh!” He can’t even manage to reassure Dean that he’s okay. This is definitely the sneeziest he’s ever been in his life.
But Dean is patient. He waits and doesn’t expect Sam to immediately shake off this fit. He tops off Sam’s orange juice and gets a decongestant that doesn’t contain acetaminophen. He gets a backup Kleenex box as well, so Sam doesn’t feel the need to ration tissues. He adjusts Sam’s blankets when they start to slip. And he turns the volume up on the television a little so Sam’s sneezes don’t seem quite so loud in comparison. Short of holding tissues up to Sam’s nose for him, he does what he can to help. And Sam is grateful for it all, even if he can’t stop sneezing long enough to say so.
“HEH-Choo! AhhKShhuhh! Hahchuhhh!” Sam tries blowing his nose quickly, but the tickle is still there and still fierce.
Dean settles back into his recliner and waits. He looks like he’s watching the movie and enjoying his beer, but Sam knows he’s only half paying attention.
“ahh hahhh ahhh-HIHShhuhh! HahChuhhhhh! HahSCHHHHH!” When the sneezes finally back down again, Sam utters a soft “Sorry.”
Dean smiles and shakes his head. He passes Sam the medicine.
And even though this is happening in a brand new room of the Bunker for the first time, it feels like every cold Sam’s ever had. Dean’s always been there for him, taking care of his little brother the way Dad told him to. And Sam never wants it any other way. He smiles back and swallows the pills down, trusting Dean entirely, not even looking at the medicine box.
They’re two movies and at least a hundred sneezes in when Sam gets up, stretches, and starts for the door.
Dean hits the Pause button on the DVR remote then turns in his seat. “Hey, I can get you anything you need. Where do you think you’re going?”
“Bathroob.” All that orange juice has caught up to him.
“Yeah, I can’t get you that. But here.” Dean gets up and puts a blanket around Sam’s shoulders, pulling it securely in the front so Sam stays warm. Dean’s fussing knows no bounds. “Okay. Now you can go.”
Sam thanks him with smile and heads down the hall. When he returns, his other blanket is warm again from another quick spin in the dryer, he suspects. He snuggles back into the recliner, adjusting his pillow and pulling the Kleenex box close again.
Dean picks up the remote but waits. “You ready, or are you gonna sneeze again?”
He’s about to say that he’s ready for more movie, when he does feel the urge to sneeze again. How the hell did Dean know? Sam hastily pulls a couple tissues out as an answer. “Ahh-Shuhh! HahhShoo!”
Dean unpauses the movie and starts laughing at a joke almost immediately. But Sam just closes his eyes and lets this all soak in. If someone had told him all those years ago that he’d have a safe place that felt like home, he never would have believed them. And he certainly never would have believed that Dean would blow off hunts. Maybe this was just Dean’s way of saying they were getting older and it was about time they slowed down a little, but Sam didn’t think so. He had a pretty good idea that Dean liked the excuse to take it easy and look after Sam just as much as Sam liked being cared for.