Disclaimer: Not my world or characters. I don’t make a thing from this.
Prompt from mad_server: Dean gets a cold and Sam is like "How?" and there are absurd amounts of Kleenex.
In January, Dean had a cold. Actually, he caught it sometime in late December, when the temperature dipped below freezing for days without end and Dean and Sam were stuck inside a motel with an especially good continental breakfast buffet and sick, sneezy, contagious people from all corners of the country passing through for the holidays. It wasn’t much of a surprise, really. And it wasn’t much of a new year’s celebration either, tucking a hoarse Dean into bed with a box of Kleenex and then falling asleep beside him a whole hour and a half before the ball dropped.
In February, Dean caught Sammy’s cold. Sam knew he should have been more careful, but it was Valentine’s Day and for fuck’s sake, kissing was what you did on Valentine’s Day. All that gooey pink heart stuff was for girls. And flowers made Sam sneeze, which would have been overwhelming given that Sam was sneezing every minute anyway. So the Winchester boys celebrated the way they always did—the only way they knew how. And they fogged up the windows of the Impala while they were at it. And, yeah, the next day Dean’s hand dipped into the tissue box between the front seat just as often as Sam’s did.
In March, Dean got the flu. He insisted it was just food poisoning, but Sam knew better. Food poisoning didn’t come with fevers of over a hundred, for one. They picked a motel and set up camp there for a week while Dean fought the flu off as best he could. Sam spent three sleepless nights sitting up with him in the bathroom, rubbing his back and stroking his hair. In the end, Dean kicked it all right. He was out there like a champ only a week after drinking green shots at a bar on St. Patty’s Day. Sam spent the next morning on the floor of the bathroom beside Dean again, cold compress held to the back of Dean’s neck and a steaming cup of coffee waiting until Dean could keep things down enough to beat the hangover.
In April, Dean came down with an awful cold. Just when they thought the winter bugs were behind them, there was a job in an elementary school. All that running around fighting demons in a self-contained germ-breading factory was bound to catch up with them. And, in the end, it was Dean whose heroism suffered the ultimate hit. He saved the school, of course. Winchesters: one, vengeful drama teacher’s ghost: zip. But Dean came down with whatever nasty bug was going around the place and it went straight to his chest.
In May, Dean still hadn’t been able to shake the racking cough from his cold. He tried every brand of cough drops sold from southern California to northern Maine; more than half of them did nothing. He tried gargling with salt water every night; goodness knew salt was good for a million and one uses, but this wasn’t one of them apparently. He even tried sleeping on the floor of the bathroom while a hot shower ran, filling the room thick with steam, but all he got was a sore neck and the shivers, waking up damp all over. In the end, Sam took him to a free clinic that didn’t ask too many questions and Dean was given a course of antibiotics that Sam was a drill sergeant about him taking.
In June, Dean still had a couple pills left in his regimen and it was starting to get warm out. A couple times, they rolled the windows down and took in all that the open road had to offer. They’d caught wind of a hunt a couple states away and made good time on the road. If it hadn’t been for the absolutely absurd number of illnesses in Dean’s recent history, Sam might have overlooked the sneeze, passing it off as just something outside tickling his nose. But now Sam felt like an expert in diagnosing his brother and a single sneeze sent up red flags of paranoia. “Dean? You okay?” He didn’t even sound normal when he asked. The words came out all shaky and almost squeaky.
Dean shrugged. “Yeah, I guess.”
Dean’s guesses had been off all year, though, and Sam wasn’t taking any chances. He kept his eyes on his brother, not daring to look away. And, not two minutes later, he was rewarded for his efforts.
A wrinkle in the bridge of the nose. A flare of the nostrils. A gentle sway forward as his chest puffed up. A fluttering of eyelids. Another flare of the nostrils as he swung back and forth with a “hat-CHISIKKKK!” It had been quick enough for him to catch the bend in the road ahead without any difficulty. But slow enough for Sam to have registered every horrible detail.
“Gas station in one mile. Pull over so I can stock up.”
“Aw, Sabby…” he coughed.
Dean is stuffed up already, which shouldn’t even be possible. “See? I mean, hear? It’s just a matter of time, Dean.”
“Baybe dot—cough—this tibe?”
“Yeah. And maybe demons’ll all embrace peace and start handing flowers out at airports. Now pull over.”
Dean put his blinker on and rumbled straight into the gas station.
Sam glanced at the clock, which was still on eastern time. Sometimes it just wasn’t worth going through the steps to reset it. Dean had managed one and a half solid hours of sleep. Not bad. But the tell-tale sneeze indicated he was awake, as did the snuffling blow that followed. Sam looked up at the rear view mirror. He had adjusted it to look into the back seat.
Dean lay on his side, curled around a tissue box and shivering terribly under Sam’s bulky winter coat. His body tensed and he ripped two tissues from the box with an urgency usually reserved for the hunt. “her-KSchhhh!”
“Yeah.” The congestion in his voice was terrible, making it deep, making it crackle. “We id Illidois yet?”
“No such luck. Still Ohio for another twenty at least.”
“Dabb!” Ohio always seemed longer than it was supposed to. He coughed and snuffled some more, bunching tissues at his face and breathing hotly into them to keep the germs to himself.
“We’ll find somewhere outside Indianapolis to spend the night.”
“Y’dod’t hab to.”
Sam looked away to roll his eyes. “Kinda do. I need somewhere to set up base so I can get your sick, pathetic self under control?”
“Cod…heh… eh-ERSchikuhh! Huh. Codtrol?” Dean breathed heavily. “Shit, I thidk I’b godda sdeeze ‘gaid.”
“I’m sure you are. In fact, if that one just now was your very last sneeze ever, I’ll literally die of surprise.”
“Fuh… fuck you… ehpt’chhhhhh! KefSCHhhhh!”
“Guess I’m safe. So…” He glanced into the mirror again to see Dean rubbing at his nose with a balled-up tissue. “How the hell did you catch this cold? You’ve spent more time sick than well this year. I was thinking you might have caught absolutely everything there was to catch already. I can’t believe you somehow found something else to come down with. I mean, how do you even catch something like this when you’re already on antibiotics? It’s crazy.”
“I’b taledted. It’s by suber bower. Sniff! You get the telekedesis. I get all the gerbs. Dead Widchester: gerb bagdet. Cough! Coughcough!” His cough was light but moist. But once it started, it rumbled on and on until he caught his breath enough to clear his throat and blow his nose. Then he closed his eyes. “I feel like shit.”
“You sound it.”
“Any time. Look, can you try falling back to sleep? I’m trying to drive here. It’s no fun listening to you sneezing.”
“Bitch. Turn my music back on.”
Sam did, and the sound drowned out more of Dean’s coughs until there were no more coughs to drown out, only soft, stuffy snores.
At the motel, Sam wrestled his brother out of the car. Dean clung to him embarrassingly, forcing an absurd sort of waddle to get into the room with their bags. “Sabby… I dod’t feel so great.”
“Yeah. Well, that’s what you get for refusing to take more than Aspirin.”
“That stuff dulls the sedses. I wod’t be quick edough.”
“Do you really think you’re in any condition for a hunt, Dean?” Sam palmed his forehead, frowning. Dean was a little warm but hardly feverish. But Dean leaned into the touch anyway because it was Sam’s hand and that was warm and familiar to him. The motel was decent, but it was still a strange room, strange bed, strange blanket. It was the same ol’ Sammy, though. “Let’s get you into bed and see if that helps any, all right?”
It would take more than that, and Sam knew it. But this was a start. The bottle of Aspirin from the gas station was the next step. The third came a few minutes later when Dean had swallowed two pills and chased them with a whole glass of water. Sam stripped down to his underwear and stretched out on top of the covers.
With Dean beneath and Sam above, they managed to cuddle just enough to be comfortable but not enough to make Sam die of heat—it was summer, after all—or Dean shiver with chill. “Got a runny nose, huh?”
Dean nodded, holding a wad of tissues to his nose and getting another fistful ready for the inevitable switch. “Dod’t thig I’b ever godda be well agaid.”
Sam chuckled. “You’ll just have to learn to fight while you’re sick and sniffly then. We’ll find you a little tissue pack to stick on the side of your gun.”
Dean rested his head on Sam’s shoulder. “Or you’ll just bick ub the slack add fight for us both.”
“Or we could just give up the fight for long enough for your immune system to recover.” That was the most unrealistic suggestion of the bunch, but it made Dean smile for a whole two seconds before he had to sneeze again.
With tissues already pressed to his nose, there was no mad dash for the tissue box. “huh… huh-HUHKSHHH! hept’KIHShh!” Sam felt him jerk and slid an arm around his brother. Dean rolled over and nuzzled into it, snuffling into Sam’s sleeve instead of the tissues.
Sam sighed and pulled some tissues out of the box, wedging them in-between arm and Dean’s tickley nose. “If you keep this up, you’ll be through a whole box by morning.” He stroked Dean’s head repeatedly, watching the eyelids flutter closed again because of exhaustion this time.
“I’ll do by… best….” Dean shook from the force of a yawn stronger than he was at present.
In June, Dean’s cold knocked him down for a week and a half. By the time it finally passed, Dean had gone through three tissue boxes and an entire bottle of Aspirin. Sam managed to avoid catching this one, by some miracle. And when they stood in front of a Devil’s trap, exorcising the demon from a businessman’s body, Dean didn’t so much as sniffle.
In July, they both waited to see how long it would last.