Title: Reversal
Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Supernatural
Pairing: None

Rating: G

Notes: Written for a 2012 meme prompt from Sinnerforhire: Dean is physically and mentally de-aged to ~5-6 years old and comes down with a bad case of the flu. At first Dean is hesitant to accept comfort from Sam, but after Sam does all the things Dean always did for him when he was sick as a kid, Dean turns into a regular little snuggle bunny.





It had been a month, and Dean still wasn’t older.


Actually, that isn’t true. He was exactly a month older, but that was it. In all that time, they hadn’t figured out a way to change him back to looking, acting, and feeling thirty-four again.


Rather, it was Sam who hadn’t figured out a way. Dean hadn’t been doing much of anything except playing whatever video games Sam let him download on the tablet that seemed permanently stuck in his hands.


Dean at six without a little brother to look after and a household to run was sullen and antisocial and didn’t want to have anything to do with Sam—or Castiel, for that matter. He just sat in the back seat of the impala and ignored everything Sam did to try to keep him safe.


Sam didn’t want to say Dean at six was ungrateful… but he certainly thought it enough times.




Sam glanced over his shoulder into the back seat of the Impala. “Bless you. Hey. You okay? You’ve been sneezing a lot this morning.”


“Oh, thanks.” His sarcasm was not cute. But on top of that he also sounded a little stuffy.


“I’m just worried about you, buddy. I think maybe you’re getting sick.”


“Like you care.”


“I do, actually.”


Dean shot him a look, mumbled something under his breath that Sam couldn’t make out, and went back to his video game.

Sam bit the inside of his cheek to keep himself from saying anything. Even six years old, his brother could still be a jerk. He kept his eye out for an exit that looked like more than just a McDonald’s and an Exon. If Dean was sick, he was going to need kid-friendly meds and good food, not the cheap fast food crap he preferred.


It was another half an hour or so before Sam found what he was looking for. It was an exit leading to a quaint little town with mom & pop stores and not a chain in sight. He found a drug store and slid the Impala into a parallel parking spot nearby. Sam turned off the car and pocketed the keys. Then he turned in his seat. He saw Dean rubbing his sleeve at his nose, but Dean quickly lowered his arm the second he realized Sam was watching. “Let’s go.”


Dean crossed his arms over his chest. “I want to stay here.”


“Yeah, but you can’t. ‘Cause you’re six, and there are laws about this kind of thing. Let’s go.”


Grumbling this time, Dean climbed out of the car he looked back at the seat almost instinctively as his feet hit pavement. And Sam had an immediate flash back to his time as a child when Dean would hold out his hand and help Sam out of the car.


Now, Sam reached his own hand down to Dean. At first, Dean refused to take it. But Sam refused to take a step before Dean took it. With an annoyed sigh, Dean finally did. It was a little damp, and Sam tried not to wince. He held tight and crossed the street safely with his six-year-old big brother.


Dean pretended not to pay any attention to what Sam was buying, but Sam could tell when he was interested in something. He recognized that look in Dean’s eyes all too well. So Sam ended up with orange Gatorade, cherry cough drops, Tylenol Cold for Kids, a couple different kinds of tissues, and some comic books.


Still, it took a lot of convincing to get the medicine in him. “What will you give me if I take this?”


There was a dull ache between Sam’s eyes, and he rubbed his forehead with his palm. “What do you want?”


“There’s this new game that just came out where—”


“Fine,” Sam said with a sigh. “Just take it.”


The next stop was a little diner. And even though Dean sulked just inside the front entrance and insisted he wasn’t hungry at all, Sam ordered something special for him. But he ordered it to go.


As soon as they were back in the Impala, Dean scrambled right into the back seat and picked up his tablet. Sam got Dean a blanket from the trunk in case he was cold and wouldn’t say so. And he pulled a container out of the paper bag of food. “This is hot. So be careful not to spill.”


Dean puffed out an annoyed sigh. “Whatever. But I’m not hungry.”


Sam handed over the container and a spoon. Dean stared at it. “Is this…” He pulled off the lid. “Tomato soup with rice?”


“Of course. That’s what we Winchesters always eat when we’re not feeling well, isn’t it? It wasn’t on the menu. I had to get the cook at the diner to make it special for you.”


Dean gave it one more second, probably so he didn’t look eager, then he grabbed the spoon and helped himself to a mouthful.


Satisfied that Dean was at least getting something warm and healthy into him, Sam got into the driver’s seat. They’d have to stop and get a motel room tonight; with Dean young and unable to fight, they were vulnerable, so Sam liked to stay on the move. Sometimes he drove straight through the night with Dean sleeping in the backseat. But tonight Dean was going to need a real bed and maybe a steamy shower.




At the sound of the yell, Sam looked into the rearview mirror. He saw the blood running down Dean’s chest, and Sam’s first thought was that the demons had somehow found Dean. Sam pulled the car over onto the shoulder of the road at once. He grabbed a gun from the front seat footwell and got ready to defend his brother with his life if necessary.


But there were no demons. There was just soup Dean had spilled on his shirt. Sam grabbed the paper bag from the diner and fished around inside for napkins. “I told you to be careful,” he said, dabbing at Sam’s chest.


“I told you to be careful,” Dean echoed in a snide, mocking tone.


Sam bit the inside of his cheek again. The napkins weren’t doing anything to clean off the tomato soup except for maybe spreading it over more of Dean’s shirt and rubbing it in so the stain would be permanent. “Damn it!”


Dean gasped. “You swore!” Then he got a funny look on his face. Sam was about to ask what was wrong when he realized what it was. He pulled back just in time to avoid being sneezed on.


Sam sighed.


Dean sniffled.


Sam went to get Dean a new shirt to change into.


Dean sniffled again.


Sam returned to check what was happening in the back seat.


Dean sniffled yet again.


Cars whizzed past them there on the side of the road.


And, naturally, Dean sniffled some more.


“Here. Change into this shirt,” he instructed.


Dean shook his head. “Cold.”


Sam went back to the trunk, rummaged around in his own bag, and pulled out a hoodie. It was June, so he hadn’t bought Dean any cold weather clothing. He still hoped they would have all this solved before the winter. But he remembered when he was sick as a little kid and Dean always dressed him in Dean’s hoodies, several sizes too big. He figured Dean wouldn’t mind doing the same thing now as long as he was warmer.


It took some prodding, all the while the soup was growing cold, but finally Sam got Dean into a t-shirt and a Stanford hoodie with the sleeves bunched up. Sam tucked the blanket over Dean’s lap and gave him back his soup. “All set now?”


Dean shrugged noncommittally and sniffled yet again.


“Blow your nose, Dean-o.”


Dean didn’t reach for a tissue.


So Sam did. He pulled a tissue out of the box and held it out to Dean. “Blow your nose or I’ll do it for you.”


With a sigh and an eye roll Sam could not even pretend to miss, Dean plucked the tissue out of Sam’s hand and blew his nose.


There was a slight bit of triumph felt over these events as Sam got back behind the wheel. He waited for a few cars to pass then pulled back onto the highway in the break. He had no idea where they were going, but it didn’t really matter so long as they had the car and each other.


Sam kept glancing into the rearview, worrying whenever Dean was too quiet for too long. For a while, what he saw was Dean eating soup. Then the view switched significantly and showed Dean lying on his side, knees tucked into his chest and his arms wrapped around the blanket. He hugged it to his chest.


“Wouldn’t you be more comfortable if you got under the blanket?” Sam asked finally, as he saw the reflection of Dean in the mirror shivering with cold.


“Uh, obviously no.”


“Obviously,” Sam repeated in a whisper. But he kept an eye on Dean, watching him hug the blanket, and it gave him an idea. He remembered something his big brother had shoplifted for him so many years ago and thought it was worth a try now.


When they hit the next town, Sam took the exit off the highway. At the first potential store he came to, he dragged his brother out of the car. Dean was even less pleased to get out of the car this time around, but it couldn’t be helped. Sam took Dean by the hand and led him into the store. They passed all the usual things that thirty-four-year-old Dean would have stopped for. Sam led him all the way to the back, right to the toy section.


Dean coughed into his sleeve, just looking sick and confused, even as Sam gestured toward the stuffed animals. “Which one do you want?”


Little Dean narrowed his eyes in confusion. “What?”


“I’m buying you a stuffed bear. Or a stuffed bunny or armadillo or giraffe. I don’t care which. So just choose the one you like the best and it’s yours.”


“Stuffed animals are for babies.” Dean argued.


“Stuffed animals are for anyone who could use a hug. And that’s you right now, ‘cause you’ve got a bad cold. So go on. Pick one out.”  


Dean surveyed the selection, trying to look like this was the stupidest thing his brother had ever made him do. But Sam knew Dean better than he knew himself, and he could tell just from the look in his eyes that Dean was thrilled by this turn of events. He walked past them one way then the other. Then he sighed heavily and pulled a bear off the shelf by its ear. “I guess this one.” He stopped to sneeze in the crook of his arm. Then he held the bear up for Sam to take.


It was a dark, chocolate brown with light patches in its ears and on its paws. Its eyes were shiny and black, almost lots in its fur. But it was incredibly soft to the touch and the perfect size to be huggable. “Nice choice,” Sam said, taking the bear. He didn’t want Dean carrying him and getting embarrassed and thinking twice about this whole thing.


So Sam carried it to the check out, ran the tag attached to its ear through the scanner, put it in a bag, and headed back to the car with Dean’s hand in his.


As soon as they were at the Impala, Dean hesitated to go inside. As Sam used his pocket knife to cut the bear’s tag off, Dean leaned against the car door. “Sam, can I sit up front next to you?”


Sam wasn’t sure what this was about; since the change, Dean had never asked this. He had always seemed contented to spread out across his kingdom in the back seat. He felt bad refusing the request. “Sorry, Dean-o. It’s not as safe for you up front. But we’re only going on a short drive to a motel this time anyway. Kay?”


Dean nodded, too, the bear in his arms, and crawled into the back seat. He spent the entire ten minute drive to the motel hugging the bear and wearing the blanket draped around his shoulders like a cape.


When they got to the motel, Dean started to help Sam with the bags, like usual, but Sam insisted on carrying them both, as well as the bags with the cold supplies. “Don’t worry about it. You’re sick. You should be taking it easy so you can get better faster. You just carry your bear.”


Dean looked skeptical, but he hugged the bear and even buried his face behind it when they went up to the motel check-in desk to get a room for the night. He was snuffling lightly and coughing a little into its fur to muffle the sound. The manager at the desk didn’t say a thing.


Their room was at the end of the hallway, right by an exit so they could make a quick escape if necessary. But it was also far from the ice machine and the stairwells and most other rooms. It would give Dean the best chance for a restful sleep. Dean even headed for one of the twin beds the moment Sam opened the door to the room.


Sam put a hand on his shoulder. “You need a shower.”


Dean made a face and shivered involuntarily.


“I know, but you’ll feel better once you’re under the hot water. And the steam will help break up your congestion a little. Trust me on this one.” Sam took the bear from him and put it on the bed, propping it up against the pillows. “It’ll be waiting for you when you’re all warm and clean.”


Reluctantly, Dean headed into the small motel bathroom. Sam could hear the sounds of him running the shower. Dean was young enough now that he probably should have still been taking baths, but this whole situation was so screwed up, Sam couldn’t bring himself to bathe his big brother.


While Dean was in the shower, Sam ordered Chinese food and charged up his laptop as well as Dean’s tablet. When Dean emerged from the bathroom, he was wearing his Batman pajamas and sniffling into a handful of tissues. “By dose wod’t stob ruddig,” he told Sam.


“So I hear. Take a really deep breath and blow it out through your nose.”


Dean obeyed, blowing his nose heavily into the tissues several times before climbing under the covers and into bed. He watched movies on his tablet until he fell asleep.


When the food arrived, Sam woke him up, but Dean wanted to sleep rather than eat. He snuggled his stuffed bear to his chest and drifted back off.


Dean didn’t have the most restful sleep. Whether it was his light fever or the congestion or just being in an unfamiliar bed, he tossed and turned and woke up many times, confused about where he was until he saw Sam was right there. Accordingly, Sam made his shower super quick, so Dean wouldn’t be alone in the room for very long.


Sam was in his own bed, searching through various listings of crackpot faith healers, hoping he might stumble upon one that was real, when Dean woke with a start in the other bed.


“You okay, Dean-o?”


Dean nodded, but he didn’t look convinced that he was. He sneezed twice and rubbed his sleeve under his nose. He relaxed back against the stack of three pillows Sam had made for him and closed his eyes again.


But he didn’t fall back to sleep right away. It was late, but he’d been sleeping for most of the day so it was no wonder.




Sam looked back over. “Yeah?”


Dean shook his head. “Nothing.” Bear clutched to his chest, Dean rolled onto his other side, turning his back to Sam.


Sam went back to his laptop, trying another search.


Dean sneezed three times in a row, and then then he sniffled and coughed and sniffled again. When he spoke, his voice was timid but with some worry in it. “Sam?”


“What is it?” Not hearing an immediate answer, Sam lifted his gaze from the laptop and looked over again.


So softly, “Can I… sleep with you tonight? Please?”


Sam smiled. “I don’t know if that’s such a good idea. I’m going to be working a little longer. I don’t want to keep you up—”


“You won’t,” Dean said quickly, rolling back over to face Sam. “I just… the monsters… and… and I…”


Sam remembered having nightmares as a little kid, waking up terrified and disoriented. The only thing that helped him get back to sleep after them was cuddling up to Dean. With his big brother’s arm around him, protecting him, nightmares never touched him. Immediately Sam set his laptop aside and lifted the covers. “Shhhhh. Get over here, buddy.”


Dean scrambled out of his bed and into Sam’s. He snuggled right up to Sam’s side, curling so his head was on the pillow on Sam’s lap that the warm laptop had just been resting on. And he brought his stuffed bear and a box of tissues with him, of course. It was a good thing, too, because Dean sneezed almost as soon as he was settled. “ah-Schhhhhhh!


“Bless you.” Sam put his arm around him, matching it to the curve of Dean’s back.


Dean snuggled even closer.


“Goodnight,” Sam whispered.


Dean just smiled as he drifted back off. He was snoring before Sam managed to fall to sleep.