Title: Solo Saxophone
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Supernatural
Rating: PG
Pairing: Mostly gen, a bit of Sam/Dean if you want
Disclaimer: I don’t own these boys. Wish I did, but they’d probably not like what I’d do to them, so it’s probably safer for all of us this way. I don’t make any money from this.
Summary: When Dean gets injured mid-hunt, it’s up to a sick Sam to finish.
Prompt: From the ohsam “Guess what day it is?” comment meme-- Dean is holed up in the motel room with a sprained ankle (or similar) while Sam has to do a salt and burn on his own. All night. In the rain.
Sam comes down with one hell of a cold because of it. Dean (somewhat guiltily) frets and coddles and takes care of him.



Solo Saxophone


Sam didn’t hear Dean’s strangled cry because of the sound of his sawed-off filling the fisherman’s ghost full of rock salt. But he saw Dean’s body curled on the ground, hands crutching at his ankle.


Dean complained all the way back to the Impala, using every curse word he’d ever heard and making up a few new ones when he ran out. Two Aspirins and a sweating plastic bag full of ice from a drive-through against his ankle later, it was pretty clear Dean wasn’t going anywhere, least of all grave-digging. He could barely make it to the backseat, where he lay down on his back.


“Keep it elevated,” Sam insisted, providing a still-swearing Dean with a duffle bag and a hoodie to cushion the swelling ankle. “I’ll be as quick as I can, but if he’s deep—”


“Just go,” Dean said, teeth gritted against the pain. “Sooner you do this, sooner we get out of here.”


Sam supplied his brother with a bag of fries that were more grease than potato and a warm can of coke. Dean took one look at this offering and pulled his flask out. Sam couldn’t blame him.


But Sam did curse a little as it started raining when he was not halfway across the cemetery. Rain made the ground softer, which wasn’t a bad thing for digging. But it also made the dirt turn to mud underfoot, making him fall into the hole he dug. Rain meant overcast skies and no moon or stars to reveal his deeds to anyone. But it also meant his grip slipping on the shovel. Rain made it highly unlikely for anyone to be out visiting a loved one’s grave in the middle of the night. But it also soaked right through his clothes, making him cold and miserable.


Dean was lucky he was back in the car in pain, otherwise Sam would have been pissed off to have to do this alone. Not only was he drenched as rain poured down in buckets, but his nose was starting to run uncontrollably. All day he’d felt the scratches at the back of his throat and the dull ache pounding at the back of his head. He’d fought it pretty well, staying warm, drinking unusual amounts of orange juice, and blowing his nose every time he found himself in the bathroom or alone without a ghost on his ass and gun in his hand. But now there was nothing to do but wipe his streaming nose on his rain-soaked sleeve.


Each shovelful of dirt felt both like a punishment and a victory. He knew the only way he was going to get back in the warm, dry Impala was to get this job done. Preferably before the ghost figured out what he was doing and came after him. And absolutely before he passed out from the fever he felt like he was running.


Dripping wet, nose running, shivering uncontrollably, every muscle screaming for him to stop, Sam actually cried out when his shovel hit something solid. He moved even faster with the end in sight, sending dirt over his shoulder, over the edge of the hole. It towered above him, threatening to cave in. He cleared away the rest of the dirt and dropped to his knees, scrabbling at the corners for purchase. Finding an opening, Sam wedged the crowbar in and leaned his weight into it. The lid didn’t budge.


Sam cursed himself for not digging a larger hole, but there was only one cemetery in town and plots were right up against each other to get everyone to fit, he’d worried he’d stray too far to the side and get the wrong body. He couldn’t pry it up while he was standing on it in any case, and his head was swimming. The shivers still gripped him, making him shake. But now he felt burning hot, feverish, exhausted. It took him almost five whole minutes to realize he should just break open the top, slat by slat.


Sam grunted, pulled, pushed, even slammed the crowbar and shovel into the wood to break it. It took ages for the wood to creak and crack, finally exposing a skeleton beneath. And by then Sam was so out of it he kept slamming the crowbar down and actually shattered what was left of the skull. He coughed and covered his face with his arm, not wanting to breathe any of it in.


But coughing once made his throat itch with need. He leaned against the hard-packed dirt, doubling over with intense coughs, gagging as they came at him too deeply. He swallowed, trying to swallow the fire down and only making it worse. When finally it passed, he looked up and found himself face-to-face with the fisherman’s ghost again.


The ghost did not look at all happy that Sam had desecrated and even destroyed some of his bones. In fact, it was glowing a shade too dark, filled with rage. Sam tried to make an escape. He felt icy fingers grip his shoulders, plunge into his back. Sam realized he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t break free. He thrashed about, flailing, kicking out. Finally his fists found a root or stone or something and he pulled himself out, dislodging his body from the ghost’s grip.


He kicked the bag of salt over, using way too much but too much was better than not enough. Sam spent only a few seconds spilling the gasoline on the grave. In the end, he just dropped the whole can in, fingers numb and trembling anyway, and followed it with the lit lighter. The flame danced on the top of the coffin for a second, then the whole thing burst into flames so high and thick that they threw Sam back. Coughing, feeling on fire himself, he crawled to the edge and looked down to see the ghost’s enraged expression staring at him through flames, just before it vanished for good.


Knowing better than to leave a grave undug, Sam began the task of shoveling the dirt back into the hole. He used his body to shove as much in as possible, then scooped the rest in, patting it down flat on top along with some semblance of the grass. It wasn’t going to win any prizes, but with luck it wouldn’t attract much attention. It wouldn’t be enough to connect this body with the two fellows in town asking questions about the town’s fishing history. Sam was just glad the fisherman’s body hadn’t been dumped out of a ship on the open water. He really didn’t feel like scuba diving for bones and burning something underwater seemed pretty impossible.




Sam realized he was in the driver’s seat of the car already, covered in mud, gripping the steering wheel so tightly he was shaking. His teeth had been clenched so hard for so long, trying to keep them from chattering, that he almost couldn’t unclench them to talk. “S’done.”


Dean had fallen asleep in the back seat and had been out almost the whole time Sam had been soaked to the skin, digging, scrambling, salting, and burning. His temperament seemed better, even if his ankle didn’t. The thing had swelled up to the size of a large orange or a small grapefruit. But the pain medication was apparently still working. Or maybe Dean had taken a little more than necessary. “Good,” Dean muttered, dropping back off to sleep with his face pressed against the back seat and a shotgun hugged to his chest like a security blanket.


That was it. No praise. No thanks. No taunts. Just ‘good’ and then silence. “Gee, thanks.” And Sam was left to figure out what the hell to do. What he wanted to do was pass out right then and there, sitting upright. His limbs ached. His head ached. His back ached. And his goddamn nose was still running. Sam sniffed and fumbled around with the trash in the front seats until he found a napkin. He folded it around his nose and blew. The steady gurgling made him shudder in a way the cold and the ghost hadn’t. Too much snot in his nose and fire in his throat. There was no denying it; he was getting sick.


He couldn’t sleep in the car, though, because they couldn’t stay parked there. They could either get a motel room somewhere or hit the road. Sam wanted the motel room. He was covered in mud and a hot, steamy shower or—better yet, a bath to soak in—sounded like heaven. But no one was going to give him a room if he walked into an office at 4 in the morning looking like this. And Dean sure as hell wasn’t going to be able to walk anywhere.


So Sam turned the key in the ignition, backed out of the space, and found the road out of town, pinching himself the whole time to stay awake until he found a drive-in that was open and selling coffee. Sam was just lucky that he didn’t really need that much sleep. When he spotted a twenty-four hour CVS drug store with a drive-through window, however, he spent about a hundred dollars on the spot in desperation.


Dean slept and Sam drove through the rest of the night and most of the morning. Dean slept and Sam coughed and hawked and wheezed. Dean slept and Sam sneezed his way through half a small tissue box. The front passenger seat had quickly become Sam’s base of operations. Bottles of sports drinks were wedged upright between tissue boxes and decongestants, angled so that Sam could reach over with one hand and pull out what he needed. Cough drops had been dumped out into a grocery bag, allowing him to root around and throw the wrappers right back in again without dealing with stay-fresh seals. There was a bottle with a spray top that coated his throat in something good and more pain pills for his aches. He had a heating pad on his back, plugged into the adapter jury-rigged in the cigarette lighter. There were bottles of daytime, non-drowsy cold medicine, the plastic cup tops lost to the floor mats beneath the dash and glove compartment so he merely took estimated gulps from the bottles themselves. There was no recovering the cups, which were well buried under all the used, balled-up, discarded tissues. Dean was going to kill him when he saw this. But Sam felt too sick to care.


His throat pulsed with pain, so hot and fiery that neither sucking on ice cubes nor sipping hot coffee touched it. His head seemed almost used to its gentle, constant throb now. And no matter what he did, he still felt cold and damp like he was back at that grave, digging. Worst of all was his nose, the way it leaked and tickled and made him sneeze so damn much. He couldn’t remember the last time a cold hit him this bad, and he suspected being out in the cold rain for hours doing manual labor had done him no favors.


At the first highway rest stop, he’d gone in and quickly changed clothes, washing up as best he could in the sink. Off came the jeans and shoes and jacket. On came clean, thick socks, warm sweatpants, and a hoodie—the sort of outfit that would have been perfect for diving into bed with a tissue box and bottle of Nyquil until it was all over. He didn’t care that he looked like he was walking around or driving in pajamas. Dean was still asleep and therefore not in a position to give him grief about it. And he wasn’t outside the car anyway except to pump gas. At least he was comfortable.


Shivering, he turned the heat up a little higher in the car. The radio was tuned into some talk station, a sure way to keep Dean asleep and Sam awake. Sam drove as if on autopilot, finding a semi, positioning the car two lengths behind, and then sticking there for the long haul. He wasn’t sure where they were going, just west. And considering they’d come from the coast of North Carolina, there was a whole lot of west to go to. The people on the radio talked about sports and politics, about some book, about civil war reenactments, about a craft fair and an indie film festival. Sam listened to every word without really paying any attention to the content. Every time he drove out of range, he’d flip through the stations until he found another.


Well into the morning, nearly noon, Dean woke up. He moaned in pain and Sam paused in blowing his nose to listen to the shake of the pill bottle. “How are you?” Sam asked, choosing words that wouldn’t sound flat, muted by his stuffed-up nose.


“Awful. Ankle hurts like hell. And I gotta piss bad. Pull over, wouldya, Sammy?”


Bidding farewell to the semi in front of him, Sam pulled the car over to the side of the road. He sat, straight armed, clutching the wheel still while his brother threw open the door. Dean tumbled out, swearing, hobbling, limping toward a tree just off the side of the road. Under other circumstances, he would have helped Dean, given him someone to lean on. Putting pressure on that bum ankle was a seriously bad idea. But Sam’s head swum and it was all he could do to sit there and not fall over himself.


As it was, he felt his eyes closing. He knew it would take Dean at least five minutes to get there, pee, and get back. A five minute nap suddenly sounded like an excellent idea. Promising to wake up the second he heard the door open back up again, Sam relaxed back into the seat and took advantage of the silence and peace.




Sam’s eyes few open. He hadn’t heard the door, but he did hear a knock and Dean’s muffled voice. Sam looked over his shoulder, but the backseat was empty, apart from the bag, sweatshirt, empty soda can, puddle of melted ice water, and crumbs. Where was Dean?


“Sam!” Another knock made Sam jump. He looked over through the driver’s side window to see Dean there, looking impatient. “Dude, what’s with you? Been knocking for a minute.”


Blinking up at him, Sam tried to think up the words to explain what was wrong with him. Instead, he sneezed. Sudden. Wet. Unrestrained. Uncovered. “heyyyyEHTchhhh!


There were full, heavy seconds of silence. Then Dean knocked again.


Sniffling, Sam turned his head and looked at his brother through the window, his eyes doing that wounded, sad puppy dog thing while Dean’s did that worried, protective big brother thing. “Gesundheit, Sammy.”


Sam stared at him, trying to overcome the fever daze trying to settle in. “Sorry.” He dragged his hand beneath his nose with a wet sniffle.


“Caught a ghost, caught a cold, all in a day’s work.”


Sam nodded, grateful to not have to say it.


Dean hauled himself into the backseat with a “Fuck—OW! Fuck this damn fucking ankle!” He slammed his head back against the headrest, panting. Then his breathing softened and slowed and realization seemed to dawn on him. “Sammy, last night… you…”


“You bead the d’night whed I was out id raid add sniff cold widd sniff all sick add sdeh… sd… wait­-hehh… gotta… ehh-heh-KIFChuhhhh!” This one he managed to grab a tissue for.


“Sneezy. Yeah. And I was here and didn’t help. You should have told me.”


“D’nothig you could’ve dode.”


Dean thought about that a moment and nodded. “Yeah, but I can do something now.” He pointed up ahead. “First town sign you see, you turn off, all right? Gonna find you a warm motel room to settle down in. Then I’m gonna make you better.”


Sam laughed. Only rest, vitamin C tablets, and heavy doses of decongestant were going to be able to do that. But a glance in the rear view mirror caught the determined look on Dean’s face. And Sam, sniffling, did as his brother wanted. As usual.


Over the course of their lives, the Winchester boys had stayed in some shitty motels. This one could have competed for the title of worst. Sam wasn’t sure how much they’d paid for it or for how many days they’d be stuck there, because his sniffly self had been relegated to the car while Dean went in to sweet talk the girl at the desk into a room before check-in officially started for the day.


Sam thought about staying in the car, knowing it would be cold but at least thus keeping Dean from catching this from him. But Dean was insistent. So Sam pulled himself out of the car and stood there, in the cold, shivering as he looked at all the stuff he’d accumulated and needed. And remembering his bag in the back, flattened by Dean’s foot. He wasn’t sure which to go for first.


Then he felt a hand on his shoulder. “Go inside. I’ll get the stuff.”


Sam didn’t move. He coughed and stared. “But your ankle. You can’t carry…”


“Then I’ll drag it. Go inside, bitch. I’ll be fine.”


Dean wasn’t fine. All the walking on his ankle already was taking its toll. He hopped now, unable to put any pressure on it. Sam watched from the doorway, worrying as he saw Dean haul the bags from the car and drag them behind by the straps. When he got to the room, he shoved the bags in and paused to catch his breath. “What happened to my front seat, Sammy?”


Sam blushed and started out again. “I’ll get that stuff—”


“Like hell you will.” Dean crawled. He winced as he crawled, but he made it to the Impala and reached up to swing the door open, just missing his head. He reached in, stuffing things into plastic bags they’d been bought in. Then he crawled back, exhausted, flushed, looking up at his brother. “Why aren’t you in bed?”


Sam picked up the bags and only made it a step before lifting his arm and smothering three mighty sneezes into his sleeve. The sneezes led to coughs. And the coughs winded him. He set the bags down and let Dean pull him—roughly and jerkily because of the jumping—to bed.


The blankets were musty, the sheets uncomfortably rough. Sam sneezed again, into a cupped hand, as he lay down. He wheezed and coughed until Dean brought over the pillows from the other bed. With four pillows propping him up nicely, Sam found it a little easier to breathe. There was a layer of dust on the nightstands, which would have made Sam’s nose tickle if he weren’t already sick with a cold. But to avoid this, Dean piled most of the items from the car on the bed.


“When did you last take medicine?” Dean asked.


Sam couldn’t remember. He’d looked at the time, at least, he thought he had, but he couldn’t remember exactly. “I dod’t… a couble hours?”


Dean leaned against the side of the bed for support and pressed his hand to Sam’s forehead. “How long have you had a fever?”


Sam didn’t know that either. “About two feet dowd idto the grave? Dot sure.” He sniffled and his breath caught. “Dead’n. I thidk… I thidk I’b godda sde-sdeeze agaid.”


There was a two-man scramble to find the tissue box amidst the pile of supplies. “ehh… hahh…” The sneeze started to build and they kept searching through the bags, though Sam pulled back to cover his nose and mouth with both hands. “hahh.. Hahhhh…


Finally, Dean pulled the box from the plastic bag and held it out, just a second too late.


IHFFSchhhhhhh! Ehxxtshhghhh!” Sam lowered one hand to pull out a tissue. As he blew his nose, so wet and full, Dean tucked the dislodged covers around Sam.


But Sam continued to shiver.


Dean sighed. “Man, this cold is really kicking your ass, kid.”


Sam nodded, shaking weakly.


“Then I don’t care if it’s not time for more medicine, you’re getting some of the good stuff right now.” Dean pours a sizable amount into a plastic cup with the motel logo badly printed on it. The bright green liquid looked awful, but Dean stroked Sam’s head, pushing his hair back from his face. And, in the end, Sam drank it down almost entirely.


It knocked him out. Sitting up, head tilted to the side a little, mouth hanging open, Sam fell asleep, snoring deeply and dreaming of nothing good.


When he woke, Dean was gathering up all the items on the bed, the crinkling of plastic bags echoing in Sam’s ears made Sam’s head hurt. He whimpered and shivered and reached for his things. But then he realized Dean was standing on the other side of the bed, balancing on crutches. And he noticed the two new boxes of tissues on the bed. “You wedt out?”


Dean nodded and pulled back the covers. Again, Sam began shivering… and sniffling… and coughing. Dean leaned the crutches against the nightstands and leveraged himself into bed, landing with a bounce. He scooted over in bed and suddenly produced a brand new, clean, fleece blanket. He threw the plaid blanket around Sam’s shoulder and, fussing and pushing Sam’s hand away, pulled it into place, bunched against Sam’s chest to keep it closed and keep Sam warm. Then he slid his arm around Sam. He pulled Sam to his side and chest. It took a full minute of hugging before Sam stopped shivering. The rest of the symptoms didn’t let up so easily. But Dean kept him upright, helping his breathing. And Dean had whole handfuls of tissues ready so that Sam’s hands could stay under the blanket. Sam sneezed and snuffled and blew his nose into the tissues more often than not.


“Here,” Dean offered, just holding a bunch of tissues to Sam’s nose and keeping them there.


Guilty about how bad his cold was and a little embarrassed to have his big brother wiping his nose for him like he was a kid again, Sam tried to pull away, blanket slipping off his shoulder. But Dean held him close and fussed with the blanket again. “You dod’t hab to…”


“Yeah,” Dean said, smiling a little. “I kind of do. You ganked that ghost last night on your own and got us out of town.”


Sam sneezed again, pitching forward, tissues still held to his face.


“Least I can do is help you with a couple sneezes.”


 Sam’s eyebrows rose. He’d dug for hours, fought off that ghost, salted and burned the bones, covered their tracks, and drove for half a day. Somehow, some cuddling and tissues didn’t seem like they were enough either. “Cad the hudt go od without us for a while?”


“Yeah, I think it’d better. ‘Cause you sound pretty bad, Sammy. And I can’t go anywhere without these drug store crutches.” He gestured to them, chuckling. “The Winchester boys are looking pretty pathetic right now, I’m not gonna lie.”


hehh…” Sam nodded and closed his eyes as another sneeze hit. “hehEyshhhhhh!” He relaxed back against the pillows as Dean wiped his nose for him. He didn’t doubt he looked pathetic. But he was starting to feel a little better already. He clutched the blanket to his chest, turned, and snuggled up against his brother.