Disclaimer: Not my characters or ‘verse. I make no money
Summary: Sam finds a trail of breadcrumbs.
Notes: I was finishing up another fic (How?) and an image for this popped into my mind. So I had to write it! When I got to the last paragraph of this, an image for a third story popped into my head. Off I go…
“I’ll grab the bags if you go get dinner,” Dean croaked, pulling into a parking space three removed from a staircase leading up to their second floor motel room door. Dean was usually opposed to anything but ground floor rooms, which allowed for quick departures in case of emergency. But tonight they hadn’t had a choice. Everything else was booked up from some rodeo in town. And there was no question of driving further; Dean looked dead on his feet even sitting down. “And no healthy shit this time. If I see another salad I’ll puke. Got it?”
Nodding obediently, Sam got out of the car. Dean had been in a bad mood all afternoon and the room situation had only made it worse. He’d snapped at Sam when Sam used the wrong credit card at the gas station and they’d had to hit the road before filling up all the way and the machines caught up to the fact that it was nearly maxed out. He’d refused to eat lunch because Sam had gotten them both salads. Granted, Dean’s had huge chunks of fried chicken and bacon on it, and he’d eaten that off like a four-year-old, but he hadn’t been happy about it. He’d spilled his coffee on his leg, hissing as the heat soaked through his jeans to his skin. And he hadn’t been able to find a single decent station on the radio all day.
After checking to make sure his wallet was in his back pocket and his gloves were in his jacket pockets, Sam took off for the strip mall full of fast food restaurants across the street. He picked up a bacon double cheeseburger just dripping in special sauce and some beer battered curly fries from one place. Then he headed over to a sandwich shop a couple doors down for something slightly less greasy for himself. Before he left, he splurged on a piece of cherry pie. The owner swore they were real cherries and if Dean weren’t going to acknowledge the existence of vegetables as a whole, at least he’d get a serving of fruit. Not that Dean deserved a treat; Sam just figured improving his mood a little would make him easier to deal with for the rest of the night.
On his way to the room, Sam noticed something small and white on the ground just outside the Impala’s driver’s side door. Thinking it might be a note Dean dropped, Sam reached for it. His fingers just closed around the edge when he realized it was not paper. He drew back, startled at the softness of the Kleenex. “Ew.” He wiped his hand on the leg of his jeans, as if that would do any good, and made a mental note to wash his hands before eating anyway.
He hadn’t walked two feet before he spotted another one, this time in the gutter by the curb. Strange that they’d be here. The same care was next to them as before and no one was going in or out of it. So where had these things come from?
Sam found another on the sidewalk, then another, and another still. There was even one at the base of the outdoor stairs leading up. Sam was heading that way anyway, so he climbed the stairs, counting mentally in his head not the number of stairs but the number of tissues he passed: six.
There were more along the upstairs covered walkway, one in front of every door, on average, including two in front of the room Dean had plunked down a credit card for. Sam slid his card in the reader and pushed the door open as soon as the little light flashed yellow. He was both a little startled and not remotely surprised to see a balled-up white Kleenex standing out boldly against the dark green motel carpet. There was another near the far bed, beside their bags. And one more right in front of the door to the bathroom.
The open door to the bathroom. Sam set their dinners down on the little round table and then headed for the bathroom. The bright white light made Sam blink a few times before his eyes adjusted, but even so he couldn’t miss the sight of Dean sitting on the edge of the tub, about a half dozen Kleenexes clutched in one hand held in midair, halfway between the box in his lap and his nose. A finger on his other hand was pressed against the underside of a constantly twitching nose, doing pretty much nothing at all to keep it in check. Naturally, he snapped forward almost at once, catching his nose and the sneeze in the wad of Kleenex. “Huh-IKKshoo!’
His free hand gripped the edge of the tub to steady himself and Sam realized it wasn’t going to be just a single sneeze.
“h’Ikshh! hehShoo! Hehh-IHShh! Ih-HIHShhh! KShoo!” He gave the longest, wettest sniff Sam had ever heard and blew his nose into the tissues. Then he sat up, gathered the Kleenexes into a bunch, and thrust them into a plastic grocery bag. The logo on the outside matched the place they’d stopped for lunch that day. And a little split at the bottom of the bag showed half a tissue poking out.
Sam leaned against the door frame, arms crossed over his chest as Dean blinked up at him. “Caught a cold?”
Dean gave a slow nod.
“Thought I wouldn’t find out?”
“It kicking your ass?”
An emphatic double-nod.
Sam tilted his head, gesturing back toward the food. “Good thing I got you pie, then.”
Dean looked like he might cry. Watery eyes stared up at him and his expression changed from misery to gratitude. And then to helplessness. “hepfftSCHHHHHHH!” He sneezed, spraying his hand and half the bathroom when he hadn’t been able to cover it fast enough.
Preparing for a meal spent protecting his food from Dean’s germs, Sam took Dean’s plastic bag, stuffed it in the little bathroom trashcan, then handed that to Dean. This wasn’t the time to mention the breadcrumbs. “Go eat, man. I’ll be right out.”
Dean nodded one last time and headed tiredly for the table.
Sam turned the water on as hot as he could stand it and scrubbed the bar of soap between his hands. It was useless, he knew. He always came down with whatever Dean had no matter what he did. But maybe this would buy him enough time so that by the time he started sneezing, Dean would be on the road to recovery and able to jump back in the driver’s seat.