Title: The More They Stay the Same
Disclaimer: Not my boys
Notes: Written for sexualoddity’s Sneezy Supernatural Boys Appreciation Society comment meme
Prompt: How about a fic that's a series of snapshots of the boys being taken care of at Bobby's house when sick or injured through the years?
The More They Stay the Same
Bobby seems keenly aware of the shotgun in his hand. His stomach lurches. “Ya gotta believe me here. I ain’t the right man for the job.”
John pats his arm. “You’ll do fine.” Then he makes his exit.
“John! Don’t you dare—” Bobby races down the porch steps and heads straight for the Impala. John’s already in, but the windows are down and he can hear just fine.
“Best lead I’ve had in months, Bobby. I gotta take it. Just a couple days, I promise. I’ll call in.” And with that he’s down the driveway
Bobby stands in his yard, a heap of metal that used to be a car on his left and two young boys on the porch directly ahead of him. The baby starts crying in its… carrier? Cradle? What the hell was that thing called anyway? Bobby approaches with trepidation. He’s held Sammy once. Just the once. And he’d been so scared he’d drop the kid he handed him right back to John the second he could. He’s up the steps, staring down at it now, not sure what to do exactly. He supposed they should go inside. That’d be a first step.
Dean steps forward, bends down, and scoops the baby into his arms. He holds Sam to his chest and bounces as he takes a few steps. Almost at once, Sam stops howling. Looking up at Bobby, “Don’t worry, Uncle Bobby. I know how to take care of Sammy.” And he heads into the house to find a spot where he can lay Sam down and change him.
Bobby stands there for a second. If a four year old kid can manage it, how hard can it be? With a deep breath that goes all the way down to his gut, he picks up the kids’ bags and carries those inside his house.
Bobby gets three more words of the translation down before he realizes he’s gotta have the older edition. Wondering where the hell he left the book, he heads from his bedroom down to the library. But just outside the guest room, the sound of a sneeze stops him in his tracks. There’s sniffling and snuffling and snorting and all kinds of those germy little kid noises. Bobby sighs inwardly and goes in.
Dean’s got his head in a book so big he can almost hide behind it completely. “Dean, you all right?”
Dean nods. His nose wrinkles and his nostrils twitch, but he doesn’t say anything. After a minute, Bobby loses patience and leaves, but the second he’s out of the room he hears another sneeze. And a cough. And a hell of a lot more sniffling.
Bobby goes back in and immediately Dean’s arms drop down to his sides. “You all right?” Bobby asks again.
And, again, Dean nods.
“Sounds to me like you’ve got yourself a good old fashioned cold there.”
“Dean, are you sick? I want an answer.”
The kid looks like he’s fighting himself, trying to figure out what he’s supposed to say. Finally he blurts out, “Dad told be dot to lie!”
Bobby leans against the doorjamb and nods. “Yep.” He can’t help but notice that Dean’s nose sounds like someone stuck a clothespin on it.
“But Dad also told be dot to cobblain. Real bed dod’t talk about beig sick. That bakes theb look weak.”
Yeah, that was John Winchester’s boy all right. John came to him once with a hole in him the size of his fist and just downed a bottle of whiskey and bit down on a leather strap until Bobby got him all fixed up. “Lucky for you, there’s no one here to see you look weak.” He fishes a bandanna out of his back pocket and hands it to the kid, whose shirt sleeve looks pretty damp. “Now use this while I go round up some things, understand?”
Dean nods and dabs at his nose. Bobby’s on his hands and knees, rifling through the cabinet under the bathroom sink for a thermometer, when he finds the book he’d been looking for.
“Yeah, I can take ‘em,” Bobby says, pushing scrambled eggs, mushrooms, and peppers around in a skillet on the stove. He’s suddenly glad for the coffee already brewing. But the way John pauses, he can tell there’s something wrong. “John, what’s the matter?”
The words come flying out like a bullet. “Chicken pox.”
Bobby’s eyes catch a good look at the ceiling. “Which one?” As soon as he asks, he wonders which one he wants the answer to be. If Dean’s got it, he can reason with the kid. Dean’s damn good at following orders and Bobby’s pretty sure that if he tells Dean not to scratch, Dean won’t scratch. The problem will be looking after Dean while racing around after Sam. A sick Sam, on the other hand, wouldn’t understand why he shouldn’t scratch where he itches. He’d be a miserable little handful, but at least Bobby would have Dean to help him look after the boy.
So he holds his breath and waits for the answer, which turns out to be “Both.”
Dean winces as Bobby dabs alcohol at his scraped knee.
“Hey, not so bad, right?”
“I didn’t cry,” Dean points out.
“Yeah, I noticed.” Dean’s knee’s cut up pretty bad. He’ll heal, though; his jeans might not be too bad after they’re patched up either. John might not even notice as long as Dean takes it easy and ices it tonight so there won’t be a bruise.
The second Bobby applies a bandage, however, Dean’s up and about, wanting to head back to the salvage yard to learn more about engines.
Dean’s on the red sofa in the library, wrapped up under Bobby’s quilt with Sam squeezed in beside him. Dean reads his little brother The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as Sam sniffles and wipes his nose on Dean’s sleeve.
“Use the Kleenex, ya idjits,” Bobby says, passing by and gesturing at a square box of tissues he’d left on the end table. He cups his hand over Sam’s forehead and is surprised he can tell the kid’s not feverish. Sam still shivers at his touch and snuggles closer to Dean for warmth.
Bobby sighs. “Okay. I think it’s time for soup.”
Dean perks up. “Is it—”
“Yeah,” Bobby answers. “You’re the only kid in the world so obsessed with tomato soup with rice, I swear.”
Sam sneezes wetly and nuzzles his face into Dean’s sleeve.
Bobby rolls his eyes. “Dean, teach your brother to use a Kleenex, would you?” He’s not the least bit surprised when, ten minutes later, he hears Dean sneeze. He is, however, kind of amused that he can tell their sneezes apart.
Two hours ago, he’d been fake FBI on the phone on Rufus Turner’s behalf. Twenty minutes after that, he’d been a fake psychologist for Bill Harvelle. And ten minutes after that, he’d gone down face-first in bed, desperate to get some sleep before the sun came up and the phones started ringing again.
He didn’t expect the knock on the door. Or the creak as it opened a sliver. Bobby lifted his head, blinking as light from the hallway spilled in around the shape of a kid. At first he thinks it’s Dean, then remembers how much older Sam’s gotten since he last saw the kids.
“Uncle Bobby?” His voice is all kinds of timid, shakey, though that could be because it was damn cold. “My legs ache.”
Growing pains. Jesus, the kid’s still tiny; he’s got a long way to go yet. But Bobby hauls himself up, grabs the blanket off his bed, and wraps it around Sam’s shoulders. “Get on back to bed. I’ll fix ya a hot water bottle.”
“Hold that there, ya idjit,” Bobby says, slapping the steak against one side of Dean’s face. He can hear the Impala’s wheels screeching in the driveway, burning rubber to get out of there as fast as possible.
He would have punched John Winchester if the man had even come out of the car instead of just kicking the boys out and taking off. Probably the best thing for all of them, really. Though Bobby knew John wouldn’t make it past the first bar he drove by.
He wasn’t going to ask Dean what happened. The injury was too fresh and emotions too raw. But he knew it wasn’t a baseball, because John Winchester didn’t believe in playing catch with his sons. Bobby’s pretty sure the one eye of Dean’s he can see is filling with tears, but he pretends not to see it and goes to get some Tylenol.
“This is the last time,” Sam mutters through clenched teeth as Bobby weaves the needle in and out, closing up the knife gash that was just a little too deep to ignore.
“Yeah, I’m almost done,” Bobby says, not getting it but concentrating on sewing properly while Dean pops John’s arm back into its socket. From the shout in the next room, it sounds like he succeeded.
Sam shivers and shakes his head. “No, I mean this is the last time I’m going through this. I’m getting out, Bobby. Going to college.”
Bobby looks up from the wound, seeing the resolve in Sam’s eyes. “You gotta do what ya gotta do.” He ducks his head back down, letting the brim of his cap hide his face before Sam can see the emotions he’s fighting.
Bobby knocks over a lamp in his rush across the room toward the door.
“Bobby!” This time the shout is accompanied by the honk of the Impala’s horn.
“I heard ya the first time. I’m comin’ as fast as I can, ya idjits!” he shouts back, knowing Dean probably can’t hear him. By the time he gets outside with the book and the remedy he worked through the night to get ready, Dean’s bent over the hood of the car, trying to steady himself on a broken leg and get Sam out of the car at the same time.
“Leave him where he is,” Bobby tells him, wondering why Dean even bothered getting out if he’s just going to stand there all useless. Bobby reads a couple lines from the book then bends down and gets a hold of Sam in the car. He tilts Sam’s head and Sam’s eyes roll. “Bottoms up, kiddo. Swallow as much as you can.” And even though Sam’s been unresponsive for close to two hours now, swallowing is like a reflex that works without help. Sam downs the whole bottle. By the end, he’s snaking his tongue out to catch a grip at the corner of his mouth.
And he’s focusing his gaze on Bobby. “What…?”
“Welcome back,” Bobby says. He reaches out to catch Dean, who loses his balance trying to look in at his brother.
“Can you talk yet?” Bobby asks as he joins the brothers on the porch. Dean just squeaks in reply.
Apparently, Dean can’t say anything, but his mouth forms the words ‘fuck you.’
Sam laughs, looks over at Bobby. “We’ll be out of your hair in the morning. Thanks, Bobby.”
Bobby nods, raises his flask, and takes a swig. He knows they’ve gotta get going, but he wouldn’t mind sheltering them a few more days, at least until Dean’s got his voice back.
“Dean, you with me?” It’s all Bobby can do to keep the strap in Sam’s mouth and hold him down. He’s not sure where the hell Dean is, but it’s not here in the panic room with them. “Dean!” It seems like ages, but Dean looks over, registering. “Before he has another fit!”
“Yeah, yeah. Let’s just get it over with.”
They strap Sam down. It’s agony for all three of them. Bobby’s not sure if Sam’s even got a chance at making it through this detox. But he knows for sure this one isn’t going to be solved with a hot water bottle or some Tylenol.
When they’re done, Bobby stands outside, leaning against the door, trying to get his heart to stop racing.
“Shut ub about the soub. I’b so sick of soub!” Sam grumbles from the couch, snuffling into a Kleenex and tossing it halfway across the library in protest.
Bobby frowns as it lands on his desk.
“Add I dod’t wadt ady bie either.”
“No pie? Oh that’s just crazy talk now.” Dean’s nose is even redder than Sam’s, but the decongestant seems to work on him; Sam seems resistant to it. “This is apple pie, Sam. Cough! It’s classic comfort food.”
Sam rolls onto the side and grabs a whole handful of Kleenex. “ihh-Hitchhew! Eh-eh-ehHitchhhh!” He snuffles into the bunch and closes his eyes. “Dot hungry.”
Bobby pours a glass of orange juice and walks it over to Sam. He cups his palm against Sam’s forehead. There’s a fever for sure. This flu’s a bitch. “You don’t have to eat,” he says, patting Sam’s head. “But we’ll save you some soup if you want it later.”
Sam makes a face but whispers a thank you that Dean won’t be able to hear from the kitchen, especially as Dean sounds like he’s coughing his lungs out there.
“Cough drops on the counter!” Bobby calls to him, rolling his eyes.
A few seconds later, he hears a dazed and somewhat confused reply, “Where?”
Bobby storms over and snatches up the bag, thrusting it at Dean.
“Oh. Yeah,” he says slowly, and sneezes into the sleeve of his hooded sweatshirt. “hahhh-Hurt-chooo!” Some things never changed. Bobby digs out his bandanna and hands it over.