Title: The Wait

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Supernatural

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: Not my characters. I'm only playing!

Summary: Sam does a lot of waiting.


The Wait


How long had Dean been gone now? Fifteen minutes? An hour? Three minutes? Sam didn't feel good. And when Sam didn't feel good, little things like time seemed insignificant.


Sam started counting, but his head felt swimmy and hot. If Dean were here to feel his forehead, Dean would probably tell him he was running a fever. How much longer was this going to be? His head throbbed. His body ached every time he tried to move it and hurt if he didn't move it at all. His throat and mouth burned. His stomach churned with pain. And he didn't even want to think about how much he needed to sneeze. Because every time he thought about it, he ended up sneezing. He had rubbed his hand against his nose so many times in the last three hours—or ten minutes... or fifty-five seconds... or however long he had been there—that it was red and sore.


But he had to sit here and wait. There was no other option. He just wished that his brother were there to wait with him. He wasn't sure he could do this for very much longer alone. “Dean?” he whispered, though it came out as more like a whine. “Dean... Dean, where are you? I'm not sure I can hold on any longer...” Sam's voice was fading but the worried, desperate tone was unmistakable.


Almost like magic, Dean's voice came out of nowhere, traveling through all the noise and movement around them, shooting straight toward Sam. “Just hold on, kiddo.” The voice was a little louder now as Dean approached. “I'm here.” Sam hoped he wasn't just imagining this. That would be the worst, thinking you were saved but then finding out you weren't, discovering you were alone the entire time and doomed to be that way forever. He worried that this wasn't real. “I'm right here, Sammy.”


But it was real. Dean was here. Relief flooded through Sam. Dean was here and Dean would make it all better. That's what big brothers did. And Sam's big brother was the best. Always had been.


When he came around the corner, Sam couldn't help but notice his right hand was drawn up in a fist, concealing something. A knife? A razor blade? A syringe? Sam focused on it, unblinkingly, until Dean uncurled his fingers and produced a thermometer.


Sam didn't really want to know how bad of a fever he was running. He could tell it was bad and Dean could tell it was bad; wasn't that enough? But Dean was insistent, moving in, sitting right next to Sam, cuddling close. Sam looked around, worried people would notice. But none of the people around them cared. Maybe that was because Sam and Dean were from out of town, or maybe it was because they didn't mind the sentiment. Whatever the reason, Dean snuggled close to Sam to be sure he was taken care of and Sam snuggled close to Dean to stay warm.


The thermometer snuck into his mouth when he wasn't even paying attention. And Sam coughed in surprise, almost dislodging it. But Dean's arm wrapped warm and comforting around him, making Sam relax.


It was then that the new count began, this one backward. Three minutes. Two minutes and fifty-nine seconds. Two minutes and fifty-eight seconds. Two minutes and fifty-seven seconds. Two minutes and fifty—he had to sneeze. “Dzn?”


“Quiet, Sam. Let the thermometer do its job. Then you can whine and tell me how miserable you are.”


Sam shook his head. Dean didn't understand. “Snz!”


Dean made a quieting noise which Sam could barely hear among the other loud sounds in the room. It would have been frustrating if Sam had enough energy left in him to be frustrated. He was going to sneeze whether he told Dean it was going to happen or not. There wasn't much point in warning his brother; there wasn't anything even Dean could do to stop it. So Sam closed his eyes and listened for the count, hoping he could hold out long enough. Had it been three minutes yet? Probably close to it. Any second now, Dean was going to take the thermometer out.


“That's one minute down. Two to go.”


Sam groaned. He wasn’t going to make it two more minutes. He wasn't even sure he could make it two more seconds. His nostrils flared with the tickle and he drew in a sharp breath. Though his arm hurt, Sam did his best to lift it and cover his nose with his hand.


“Wait, Sam!”


But it was too late now. “hhhh-HIPTChhhhhhhh!” The sneeze burst from him. The good news was that he caught the thermometer as it tumbled out of his mouth. The bad was that they were going to have to start the count all over again from the beginning.


First, though, he had some tickles to get out of his nose. “You gonna sneeze again?” Dean asked, stretching his arm out and offering his sleeve. It was all he had, but it was more than Sam in his white t-shirt had. And Sam, who absolutely, completely, undeniably was going to sneeze, buried his nose in the plaid as he sucked in another involuntary breath.


heh-Ptttchhhhhhhh! Hehhh-Htchhhhooo! Hehshumphhh! Hehhh... heh-ehhh... ehhhhHfshhhhhh!” He rubbed his nose against the sleeve, sniffling, and then lifted his head. “Sorry. I tried to tell you...”


“It's all right. Bound to happen. You're sick, after all.” Dean's hand came up, brushing Sam's cheek, tucking strands of hair behind Sam's ear. “Ready to try the thermometer again? We've still got loads of time.”


Sam didn't want to, but he opened his mouth obediently all the same so Dean could stick the thermometer right back in. This time, when his nose tickled, Dean raised his arm and Sam rubbed and snuffled into it, keeping the sneezy feeling back just long enough. This countdown began again. Three minutes. Two minutes and fifty-nine seconds. Two minutes and fifty-eight seconds. Two minutes and fifty-seven seconds.


“You're doing so well,” Dean reassured him. “You can do this. It's just a short wait.”


Sam didn't want to wait. He had been waiting all day. Waiting for the next exit off the highway. Waiting in line at the convenient store with the box of cold and flu medicine clutched in his hand. Waiting after one dose in order to take the next one, even though the first didn't seem to have done a bit of good. Waiting for Dean to find the right exit and the right motel. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.


“One more minute, Sammy.”


Waiting for the thermometer. Waiting for his nose to stop tickling. Waiting for Dean to remember that he preferred to be called Sam now. He wasn't going to hold his breath over that last one.


Sam closed his eyes. Sometimes this made the waiting worse. Sometimes it made the time fly by. It depended if he was feeling sleepy or not. Which he was now, a little bit. The sounds of thumps and whirs filling the air were soothing in their repetition. He could feel himself slipping away slightly, and he had to concentrate to keep the thermometer in his mouth from tumbling out and ruining all of this all over again.


“You made it.” Dean said, stroking his arm in celebration as he eased the thermometer out of Sam's mouth. He frowned while reading it, though tried to not look too worried. That was the big brother in him, trying to protect Sam any way he knew how. “Not too bad,” he lied through his teeth.


Sam didn't call him on it, though. He knew that Dean would have taken his fever away if he could have. Dean could fight off anything—skin walker, demon, werewolf, vampire, even angel—except for this. He could only hold Sam to keep him warm and snuggle Sam to keep him comfortable. He could only give Sam medicine and let him rest and hope for the best.


They were both just waiting for this bug to pass so that Sam could join him back on the hunt again. And they were going to need to wait some time for that to happen. This bug was horrible. It had grabbed hold of Sam and didn't seem to want to let go, no matter what he took or what he did.


“How much longer?” Sam asked, turning in place and nuzzling his face into Dean's shoulder. Dean's warm arms both came around him, stroking, petting, holding. Dean still had on one of his plaid shirts; Sam wished he could have put his on, but at the time it didn't seem like a good idea to either of them. He hadn't known, then, how high his fever was going to go, how it was going to make him shiver and feel more miserable like this. He hadn't really understood how long this wait was going to be.


“About eight minutes,” Dean replied.


Eight minutes? Sam never would have guessed eight minutes. It seemed like no time at all, compared to how long they had already waited. But it also seemed like an eternity, like they would never make it.


ihhhh...” Quickly, Dean pulled back and offered his sleeve again. The fabric was a little damp but it was better than nothing. “ihhh-hih... hihh Hihtkschphhhhhh!


“Bless you.” Dean said softly. Sam sniffled madly, rubbing his runny nose into Dean's sleeve. “I'm sorry you'll have to wait to blow your nose.”


Sam hated waiting. He hated waiting more than he hated this cold-flu thing that had invaded his system and made him feel so damn miserable for no good reason. He hated waiting more than he hated demons. Well, almost.


A loud buzzer sounded, and they both jumped. Then Dean pulled free, gently. “I'll be right back, okay?”


Sam nearly pushed him away he was so excited. He shivered intensely without Dean's warmth against him, but it was worth it because a few minutes later, Dean was back with his arms full of laundry. Hot, soft laundry. Hoodies and sweat pants and thick socks and a thick blanket and so much more. No more waiting. Dean put the hoodie over Sam's head and tugged it down into place. Then he wrapped the blanket around Sam once and then a little more, wrapping him up in such warmth Sam could have passed out from the comfort of it all.


He swayed in place, head spinning. “Dean...”


“How's that feel, Sammy?”


A slow, sloppy smile spread over Sam's face, as if he were drunk. Dean always said he was a happy drunk. “Wonderf—“ he started. But then he pitched forward. “hah-IHTChhshhhhhhhhh! Ih ihhhKehtschhhhhhh! IhhhShuhhshhhhhhhh!


It wasn't until he was done, sniffling wetly, that he realized he had just sneezed into the blanket, spraying a good portion of it with wet, germy sneezes. That had been the entire reason for washing it in the first place.


“Really? I got bandannas right here, and instead you sneeze into the blanket again?”


Blushing, Sam hid his face in the blanket, still sniffling, nose still running. “Mb'sorry.”


With a sigh, Dean unwrapped the blanket from Sam's body again. Sam still had the hoodie, but now it didn't feel as warm as it had just a second ago. “Well, we're in a laundromat, no sense in waiting to wash it again. I'll go pop this in and we'll wait for it to finish.” As he gathered the blanket in his arms, he stuffed a bandanna into Sam's hand. “If you need to sneeze, do it into this instead, all right?”


Sam nodded obediently, still blushing a little as he blew his sore nose into Dean's warm, blue bandanna. He settled back against the row of dryers, most of which weren't being used now at eleven o'clock at night, and began again to wait.