Title: Hoodie Times
Author Notes: Written for cowboyguy’s Starting Over meme
Prompt: Dean always liked to wear Sam's hoodies when he was sick. But Sam's off living the college life now, John's on a hunt, and somehow Dean finds himself standing in the middle of Walmart trying to find something comfortable to wear.



Hoodie Times


Some people sneak drags on cigarettes, waving smoke out open windows and spraying air freshener so they’re not found out. Others sneak drinks, hiding flasks under papers in the bottom drawers of their desks at work and even then only barely making it through a day. Dean Winchester sneaks thermometers.


The crack of the plastic latch on the first aid kit always sounded like a firework going off in the silence of a Winchester motel room early in the morning. Head pounding and heart racing, Dean grabs a fistful of its contents and slides it back under Dad’s bed before high-tailing it to the bathroom. He locks the door behind and swiftly tucks the thermometer under his tongue. Avoiding his reflection in the warped, cheap motel bathroom mirror, he counts the seconds on his watch. And when it’s time, he pulls it out and examines it.


Oh, how he wishes it were wrong, off by five degrees thanks to years of being stored in the impala on freezing cold drives through the Dakotas in winter or broiling hot drives through the deserts in summer. But he knows it isn’t wrong. He’s known he’s had a fever since he went to bed and tried to sleep but couldn’t. He just hadn’t thought it was this high already.


Dean downs two Aspirin immediately and runs the tap water cold. He presses a wet washcloth to his forehead, sighing as the coolness takes the edge off for a few glorious seconds. But if he spends too much time in here, his dad or brother will come after him. He knows this from experience.


So he rinses off the thermometer and pops a cough drop. He lets it go to work coating his throat and makes the mistake of looking at himself in the mirror. He looks horrible. Circles under his eyes. Flushed pink nose where he’s been pinching it closed all night to stifle sneezes. Cheeks red with fever. Even pressing the washcloth to his cheeks doesn’t make the color die down. The best he can hope for is for Dad and Sam to be too tired to notice for a while.


hhhh…” He pinches his nose again, which is starting to hurt. “ihhhhhh-Hptchh!” It’s more of a sneeze than he’s sneezed all night, and at first he thinks it’s doing him some good to let it out. Then his nose tickles more wildly. “Ehptchah! Huptchew! Ehchuhhh! H’kshah!” He rubs his knuckles mercilessly at his nose until the tickle dies back down. Then he blows his nose as softly as humanly possible.


When he emerges, he half expects them both to be at the doorway, ready to confront him. But Dad’s passed out and Sammy’s splayed out on his back, taking up the whole damn bed again even though he’s a whole foot shorter than Dean.


Dean holds his breath and his nose as he puts the thermometer back. Then he burrows under the blankets on the bed and curls up in what space Sammy’s left him.


“D’n?” Dean curses himself for not moving more carefully. But he’d been freezing and the bed had looked so warm. “Y’okay?”


“Sure,” Dean lies to his baby brother.




Dean wonders if this is a question about the devil of a bug toying at him or about the fact that he’s shivering. Either way, the answer’s the same. “Guess so.”


Sam makes the bed sag and bounce and shake as he sits up and struggles out of the black hooded sweatshirt he’s wearing. “M’too hot,” he explains. Then he tosses the hoodie at Dean’s face before rolling onto his side and falling right back to sleep.


It’s still warm with Sammy’s body heat as Dean tugs it on. It’s two sizes too big for Sam, which means it’s perfect for Dean. When Dean snuggles back under the covers in a tight ball, he finally drifts off to sleep.


For twenty minutes. Dad orders them up so they can be on the road by dawn.




“What’s wrong with you tonight?”


Dean freezes. There’s a lot wrong with Dean tonight. He’s lost his favorite damn knife from sticking it in a werewolf that ran off howling at that. The batteries in his flashlight are going, making it almost impossible to follow the blood trail through the thick underbrush in the cold ass woods. Then there’s the cold ass woods themselves that stretch on for miles in all directions, where he doesn’t want to be if he has a choice about it. And, oh yeah, the raging head cold he’s been fighting for two days.


Dean sweeps his flashlight over the ground, the dim glow catching a spot of dark reddish-brown on a leaf. He takes a few steps toward it, but Sam doesn’t move. Sam crosses his arms over his chest. Sam isn’t going to let this drop.


“I don’t think that cold medicine I got at the Quick-Go Gasmart today is doing anything but slowing me down.”


Sam still doesn’t move. He just looks at Dean for a very long time. Then he strides over and switches flashlights. He pulls the hood of his hoodie up over Dean’s head and yanks on the cords to tighten it. Half of Dean’s face gets blocked out, but the part that doesn’t sniffs. His nose hasn’t stopped running in days and these cold ass woods aren’t helping matters any. But he has to admit he feels a little warmer. Sure, his visibility is down a little, but Sam stays right beside him as they go forward. Dean can see the blood drop trail up ahead, veering left.




Ehhh-Ingtshhhh!” Dean practically seizes in place on the passenger side of the car where he’s curled in on himself. Sam can’t even feel annoyed that the only time he gets to drive the Impala is when Dean is incapacitated, because Dean is seriously sick right now. He hasn’t stopped sneezing all morning, and Sam has half a mind to say screw it to the research they need to do, turn the impala around at the next intersection, and head straight back for the motel where Dad’s getting stuff ready for the hunt tonight.  


Instead, he nudges the tissue box over in Dean’s direction. “Bless you.”


Dean reaches a hand over, but not for the tissues. His fingers close around a bit of fabric that’s the underside of Sam’s sleeve. They tug. “Sabby…” Dean whines, and it is a whine, there’s no mistaking that.


“What do you… do you want my hoodie, Dean?”


Dean nods as he tugs again. He’s surely going to rub his snotty nose on the cuff. He’ll sneeze down the front of it. And he’ll sweat into it from his fever.


Still, Sam presses his knee to the bottom of the wheel as he wriggles out of the hoodie. They almost miss a curve of the road, but Sam manages to get the hoodie off. And Dean, fiercely over-protective of his Baby, doesn’t say a word as he rushes to get into the hoodie. Sam thinks that’s the worst indication of how Dean’s feeling of all.




Except maybe for the sneezing. Sam nudges the Kleenex box, but Dean’s already snuffling into the thick cotton sleeve. “Bless you,” Sam sighs.




He’s running low on beef jerky. That’s what finally gets him out of the motel room at three in the morning. Well, that and the fact that this cold of his knocked him out all day and now his body thinks it’s time to be up. Restless, he drives around until he finds a 24-hour Walmart.


It’s kind of creepy how dead it is in the town at 3 in the morning, yet the inside of the Walmart is bright and loud with smiley faces. Not creepy in a “kill it before it gets you” sort of way, but creepy all the same.


Dean’s here for beef jerky. And maybe another box of tissues. Dad left money for him before leaving town, as if he were a kid again having to stay behind and watch his little brother while Dad goes out hunting. It’s silly, because Sam hasn’t been around for months since he ditched them for Stanford. Sam doesn’t want to have anything to do with them now. And Dean totally could have backed Dad up, even with the sniffles. But you don’t argue when John Winchester gives an order. You get your butt in bed and stay there until you start feeling better. Unless you start running low on beef jerky. That’s why he’s here, after all.


So why does he suddenly realize he’s on the wrong side of the giant store, standing in the men’s wear department, listening to pop music piped through the store’s speakers, and staring at a rack of hooded sweatshirts? Even when his stomach rumbles with hunger—he hasn’t eaten a thing since half a mug of soup at ten that morning—Dean doesn’t move. He can’t stop looking at the sweatshirts.


He could buy one. Or, rather, Alice Cooper could buy one. That’s the name on his fake credit card and fake license this month. He could buy a hoodie and get his damn beef jerky and get back to the motel in time to find out how that inflatable air mattress infomercial ends.


But he doesn’t. He can’t. They just don’t look right, hanging on the rack there, so many of them empty and lifeless. That’s not what he wears. Hoodies are just about the most impractical clothing you can have. Their kangaroo pouch front pockets are useless for putting supplies. They’re big and baggy, making it impossible to maneuver quickly in a fight. And the hood hangs down in the back, pressed uncomfortably between you and the car seat.


Dean buys his beef jerky. And his tissues. And another bottle of Nyquil. He drinks a bit too much and feels drunk and woozy for a while before he passes out.




The phone rings. Dean hauls himself up off the bed to fish it out of the pocket of his jeans. It’s Dad. The hunt is over and Dad’ll be home tomorrow. Great. That means Dean’s got a day to clean this place. He hasn’t been letting housekeeping in to tidy up every day, not with the sea of balled-up tissues and cough drop wrappers littering the beds and the floor around the beds. But Dean doesn’t have the energy to clean up. He barely has the energy to faceplant into the mattress.


Then there’s a knock on the door. “I don’t want housekeeping!” Dean calls out, muffled through the pillow, regretting the statement at once. He totally wants some hot woman in a uniform bustling about in here, cleaning up his mess and cooing with sympathy every time he sniffles.


“I have a package for you, Mr. Cooper.”


That sounds like a ruse to get him to open the door if he’s ever heard one. But still he gets up and makes for the door. Sure enough, it’s the clerk from the front desk who took his cash for a two week stay up front, no questions asked. And the pimple-faced guy’s got a cardboard box about a foot long in his hands.


“You are Mr. Alice Cooper, right?” The dweeb sees nothing wrong with Dean having this name, but he is examining the package more closely than Dean would like. “It’s from Cal—“


Dean snatches the box and slams the door, locking it behind him with the safety chain. There’s only one person he knows in California, but why he’d be sending mail is beyond Dean. Still, he drops it at the end of the closer bed and rips into it with his penknife, stabbing through carefully applied layers of clear packing tape.


He’s lucky he doesn’t stab right through the contents. As soon as the box is open, out puffs a chunk of fabric. It’s a hideous, blood red color. Dean grabs a handful and pulls it out of the box. A single post-it note flutters to the floor but Dean doesn’t pick it up right away. He’s staring at the blocky white STANFORD written in an arc across what is unmistakably a hoodie from Sam’s college. For a moment, he just stands and looks at the puffy mound of sweatshirt with its giant red hood. Then he retrieves the note.


It’s short. Just a couple words: You hung up before I could say bless you. –Sam