tarotgal: (SPN- Samulet)
[personal profile] tarotgal
Title: And Then the Sky Opened Up
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Supernatural (Weechester-Teenchester)
Rating: PG-13 for language
Disclaimer: Not my characters
Summary: Dean’s just trying to get home so he can sleep off his cold, but he’s got Sammy to look after.
Prompt: Two Winchester brothers are stuck outside in the rain, waiting for someone to pick them up. They're cold, shivering, sniffling and miserable. And one of them is getting really sneezy to boot.


And Then the Sky Opened Up


From what Dean could remember, he’d felt fine during lunch. He’d been flirting with a brunette from his math class, and he was pretty sure he was getting somewhere with her. He specifically remembered feeling good when he’d left that lunch room and grabbed a binder from his locker. So it must have been somewhere during history class or math class that he’d first noticed feeling sick. Before he knew it, he had a sore throat that stung when he swallowed and demanded too often to be cleared. There was also a headache on top of it. Normally, he spent class watching the clock, waiting for it to all be over. But today he just sat there, trying not to cough or sniff or bring attention to himself. The last thing he needed today were school officials wondering why they couldn’t get his dad on the phone. Besides, he was tough. He was a Winchester. He could make it. By the time the high school bell rang to signal the end of the day, Dean officially felt like crap.

Sammy’s elementary school was only a few blocks away, but it was a whole two hours before the county elementary schools ended their school day. So Dean walked in the opposite direction, which also happened to be straight into the wind. Dean shivered, shoving his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket and hunching over so the wind wouldn’t hit him in the face at least. Even so, he was sniffling pretty badly by the time he got to the strip mall and took refuge in the convenient store.

He poked around a little, glancing curiously over at the magazines he wasn’t old enough to buy, just trying to kill time and warm himself up a little. Eventually, he noticed the guy behind the desk eyeing him, and he remembered that he wasn’t supposed to be attracting attention. If the clerk got suspicious and called the cops on him on suspicion of shoplifting, Dad would not be pleased… especially since he actually had the pocket money to pay this time. So Dean grabbed what he’d come in for—a bottle of Tylenol. He took a cold bottle of water from the refrigerated section to wash the medicine down with as well. It was magic the way Dad could dry swallow pills; Dean hadn’t gotten the hang of that yet. The clerk still eyed him when he rang up the items, but he let Dean leave without incident.

Without anywhere else to go, Dean headed to the elementary school. Three blocks south and ten blocks east, Dean still made it there with a little under an hour to spare. So he found a bench outside the school and sat down on it. He took two Tylenol pills, hoping that would take the edge off the pain in his head and the pain in his throat. Maybe that’s all they were—a couple of pains. Maybe he was just tired and worn out, not sick at all.

Dean longed to spin in his seat, bring his feet up onto the bench, and lie back for a quick nap. But anyone passing by would see him. And the police dragging him to the station as a scruffy vagrant sleeping outside a school would only be an excellent way of pissing Dad off. Besides, if he relaxed so much he might fall asleep. And he if fell asleep, he might miss Sammy. And if he missed Sammy, bad things could happen, not the least of which was Dad skinning him alive. So Dean stayed awake and vigilant. He took out the copy of The Great Gatsby he was supposed to be reading for English class and propped it open on his lap. The pounding behind his eyes made it impossible to focus on any of the words, but he’d never really intended to read the book anyway.

A cool wind was kicking up, so Dean flipped the collar of his jacket up and hunkered down in it, hands still stuffed in his pockets. His body felt like it was on the verge of shivering and his nose just about ready to start running.  But he was fine enduring the weather… until the sky opened up. He swore and quickly looked around to make sure no little kids were around to hear the curse word; there weren’t. It was only sprinkling now, but from the look of the sky, it was going to get much worse. He threw his book and the nearly empty water bottle into his backpack and hurried over to the school entrance where there was an overhang. It didn’t protect him from the cold wind or the rain that the wind sent his way, but it was better than sitting out there getting wet directly under angry, gray storm clouds. And it meant being right there when the elementary school bell rang and kids started exploded out the door en masse.

Sammy was in the middle of the sea of kids, but he spotted Dean right away and let Dean pull him aside. “It’s chilly out. Better put your sweater on,” Dean told him, dismayed to see that Sam hadn’t taken his jacket to school. They’d left in a hurry that morning, so it wasn’t surprising a lot of things had been overlooked. Dad had gotten an emergency call from another hunter about a violent ghost a couple counties away, and he’d had to move fast. He’d dropped the boys off as close to the schools as he could get and promised he’d pick them up at the bus stop at the end of the day like usual.

“C’mon,” Dean said, patting Sammy’s back. “Let’s go catch the bus.” There wasn’t a school bus stop anywhere near their house; Dad had given the school a fake home address to keep them safe in case demons got to the school records somehow. Which meant they had to take public transportation home, or as close to home as they could get. It was still a mile from the place they were living in this year, so Dad picked them up every day. And on the days he couldn’t, he got someone else to. Dean looked forward to learning to drive so he wouldn’t have to rely on anyone just to get home. That is, assuming Dad even let him have a car. He was sure if he could just get a part-time job, he could save up enough money for something cheap, maybe something destined for the scrap heap anyway and then Uncle Bobby could help him fix it up. But if he had a job, who would look after Sammy?

The bus stop was only two blocks away, but by the time they got there, the sprinkles had turned into more of a light shower. There was a covered area by the bus stop sign, but it was already packed with people. Dean stood next to it and managed to force enough space beside him for Sammy to squeeze in. Sammy looked up at him, concern in those big ol’ puppy dog eyes of his. “I’ll be fine,” Dean said with a shrug. “I’ve got a jacket and you don’t.”

This answer seemed to satisfy Sammy. And it was only another ten minutes until the bus arrived anyway. By the time Dean shuffled his brother onto the bus and boarded as well, Dean was nearly soaked through. The cool air piped through the bus against his wet clothes made him feel colder than he had outside in that wind, but at least they were out of the rain. They took a seat near the back, with Sammy at the window and Dean on the aisle, fitting his legs in front of him so they didn’t stick out and get in any of the way of other passengers.

“Dean… look at it now.” Sammy was pointing out the window. What had been a drizzle not so long ago was now a full-blown downpour. If the bus had arrived any later, Dean would have been dripping wet and more miserable than he felt now.

“Maybe it’ll let up by the time we get to our stop,” Dean said, not at all optimistic. Their stop was only about twenty minutes away and spring rainstorms in this part of the country tended to last longer a lot longer than that. Sometimes they went on all day and all night. Dean spent the entirety of that twenty minutes keeping his head down but sniffing frequently. He wished he’d thought to buy a tissue pack or something at the convenience store. He didn’t even have a bandanna in his back pocket like he usually did when Dad took him hunting. Dad absolutely couldn’t stand it when he sniffed repeatedly like this.

Some of the passengers gave him annoyed looks, too. But Sammy didn’t seem to mind. Or, at least, he wasn’t saying so if he did.  He just watched out the window as the bus made its stops, getting further and further from the center of town.

Both boys, and a few others on the bus, jumped as a loud, unexpected crack of thunder hit. Sam looked up at his brother, worry in his eyes, and Dean put an arm around him. A few minutes passed then, up ahead, in the distance, they saw a jagged line of lightning heading down toward the treetops. A few seconds later, another boom of thunder sounded, and Sam snuggled closer to Dean. Dean gripped Sam’s shoulder reassuringly and cleared his throat. “It’s just rain. We’ll be all right.” Sammy relaxed a little, which made Dean feel good. But he would have felt better if he believed it. From the sound of it, the lightning and thunder were closer now, maybe almost on top of them.

“Dean?” Sammy tugged on Dean’s wet sleeve. “Can I pull the cord?”

“Go—“ Dean coughed and quickly cleared his throat again. “Go for it, kiddo.” Excitedly, Sammy stretched up, fingers twitching. The shrimp couldn’t quite reach the cord that signaled the bus driver to stop. So Dean grabbed him at the waist with both hands and lifted him up just that extra little bit. Sammy’s fingers closed on the cord and pulled. Just as he did so, Dean felt a little tingle in his nose. He turned his nose toward his shoulder and rubbed as he lowered Sammy back onto the seat. The tickle vanished immediately, thank goodness, and Sammy snuggled back against him, a warm and comforting presence. Soon they’d be in the backseat of the impala, on their way home, where Dean could get out of these wet clothes and crawl under the covers of his bed. With any luck, and a second dose of Tylenol, he could sleep away the worst of his head cold. If he were especially lucky and Sammy kept his mouth shut, Dean thought he might even be able to keep the fact that he felt sick from Dad.

The bus slowed and Dean stood. He stepped back, letting Sammy slide out and walk ahead of him; it was his job to not take his eyes off Sammy… even though there was a pounding behind his eyes that was getting worse. The brakes hissed and the bus came to a complete stop. The doors whirred open and the Winchester boys had to face the reality of the storm. Sheets of rain being twisted and blown about by a fierce wind. Sam reluctantly stepped out into it and, as Dean’s foot touched the ground, the sky on his left glowed with lightning. The door closed and the bus pulled out just as the thunder made its appearance. Only seconds apart. That was a sign the storm was right overhead. The good news was that meant it would soon move on. But the bad news was that they were now standing at the side of the road by a tall, metal bus sign, and the nearest buildings and trees were half a mile away.

“Uh… c’mere.” Dean pulled Sammy to him as he put some distance between them and the bus stop sign. He hoped it was enough. He didn’t want to go too far or Dad might get mad at them for not being where they were supposed to get picked up. And, somehow, the wrath of John Winchester was scarier than getting hit by lightning.

The rain pelted them from multiple directions, but it seemed the worst from the right. “Here,” Dean said, moving around so most of his body blocked his little brother from the worst of it. Dean could feel it soaking into his jeans, dripping down his cheeks and neck, and slamming against his back and shoulders.

“Dean?” Sammy’s little voice cut through the roar of wind and the continual tapping sound of the raindrops on the street and sidewalk. “I feel wet…”

“I know, Sammy. When we get home, I’ll help you dry off and get you a hot chocolate.” He rubbed his hand on Sammy’s back. Hot chocolate sounded fantastic to him. The sweet warmth against his sore throat would feel amazing. Right now, he wanted it more than almost anything.

“We’re out of hot chocolate. Drank the last of it on Monday, remember?”

Damn it. Dean swallowed, hot fire shooting down his throat and against the roof of his mouth. “I’ll get you something else then. But pretty soon you’ll be dry and warm, I promise.” He glanced at his watch. “Dad’ll be here any second.”

They waited a second. A minute. A half an hour. And Dad was nowhere to be seen. The rain, on the other hand, was still there. If anything, it was colder and wetter. And the wind was stronger. The lightning closer. The thunder louder. And the Winchester boys were right there in the middle of it all.

So where was Dad? The matter he’d rushed off to that morning had been urgent and dire, sure, but it was still only a ghost. Dad faced this kind of stuff all the time. He couldn’t possibly have been held up this long. And no way would Dad let a ghost do him in. Dad had to be alive. He was probably just down the street. Around the corner. He was probably almost here.

Dean lifted his head and looked down the road for the familiar black Impala. It would appear any second now. Any second. Any. Second.

“Dean? W-where’s Dad?”

He couldn’t let Sammy know he was worried that Dad wasn’t here yet. “On his way. Don’t worry. He wouldn’t forget about us.” Maybe he just hit some traffic. Maybe the storm had caused an accident on the highway and slowed him down. Maybe the grave had taken longer to dig in the rain. Maybe the fire had taken a while to start in the rain. Or maybe…

Both that thought he refused to think as well as the cold rain made Dean want to shiver. But he didn’t want to show Sammy he was feeling cold and miserable and sick. So Dean gritted his teeth and tensed his body, refusing to let himself show any weakness. He had to be strong for Sammy. He wouldn’t let his teeth chatter. He wouldn’t let his body shake. He would be his father’s son and withstand whatever lift threw at him, no matter how he felt.

A strong shiver shook him, but it wasn’t his own; it was Sammy’s. Dean rubbed his hand on Sammy’s back. It was stupid to ask if the kid felt cold right now. Of course he was. Dean was freezing and he was wearing a jacket.

The jacket! Dean shrugged his jacket off at once and put it over Sammy. His little brother was small enough still so that the jacket fit over his head, shoulders, and much of his upper back. It was pretty wet, but it seemed to do the job. Sammy leaned into Dean again, expressing his thanks wordlessly, his teeth chattering hard.

Dean’s flannel shirt was already damp, but, without the jacket, it soaked up the rain, wetting him right to the skin. He usually wore it open on top of his t-shirt, but now he buttoned it up, knowing that wasn’t going to make much of a difference. His trembling fingers kept slipping as he tried to work the buttons through their holes, and he had to hold back all signs of his frustration so Sammy didn’t realize how cold he was and give back the jacket. His clothes felt soggy and and heavy, weighing him down. But he wasn’t about to take them off here; these were his only layers between him and the rainstorm.

Another crack of thunder sounded and Sam shivered again. “D-dean?”

“He’ll be here,” Dean said through teeth clenched so tightly the words barely came out in the calm tone he’d intended. He wanted to reassure Sammy, but he was just so damn chilly and wet and he was feeling worse and worse by the second.

And then it got worse. He felt, well there was really no other word for it: sneezy. He felt sneezy. There was this annoying little ticklish, itchy feeling in his nose and the back of his throat. He scrubbed the back of his hand at his nose hard then, when that didn’t work, he scrubbed harder. But the feeling like he had to sneeze was still there. And it was getting worse. He thought, maybe, if he just let it happen once, if he stifled just one little sneeze into his sleeve, maybe his nose wouldn’t bother him again for a while. Maybe Dad would arrive and they’d make it home before Dean felt this urge to sneeze again.

But, then again, maybe one sneeze would make his nose tickle even more. And then one sneeze would lead to a second and third and another and another until his nose was red and sore to the touch. Feeling like that while still out in the rain and still trying to look after Sammy seemed like the worst situation. It would be best not to risk it. So he raised his hand to his face and rubbed hard at his nose. The tickle wouldn’t back down entirely, but it didn’t get any worse.

Suddenly, the urge to sneeze was almost overpowering. Dean’s breath caught, and he held it. He pinched his nose in just the right way and fought against the intensely sneezy feeling. He fought as hard as he could. He fought like he was fighting a demon or a ghost. And he won. Because that’s what Winchester men did.

Hearing the sound of a car approaching, Dean’s heart fluttered with excitement. Finally! He turned and, though the gray rain, he could see headlights. Then he could just make out an old, beat up, beige station wagon. Dean’s heart sank. Not the Impala. Not their dad. Not this time.

Dean gritted his teeth and concentrated again on not shivering or sneezing. He had managed not to sneeze a hundred times already, and he wouldn’t let this break his concentration. All he could hope was that the car didn’t get too close to the curb and splash them as it passed.

It didn’t. It did, however, slow down and stop. The passenger side window rolled down, revealing a driver leaning over to crank it down manually. Dean tensed, going through in his mind all the places he had a knife hidden on his person in case he needed to protect Sammy. He had one in his backpack and one in his inside jacket pocket. But the one in his sock would be easiest to get to.

“Dean? Sam?”

The voice was a little strained, but he recognized it.

“Pastor Jim?” Dean replied, holding a hand up over his eyes to shade them from the rain so he could see better. It was overcast outside but inside the car it was dark. Still, he could make out the man’s shape and facial features.

“What are you doing here?” Their surprise filled both Dean and Pastor Jim full of questions.

Luckily, Sammy had some answers. “W-w-wait-ting f-f-for D-d-dad tuh-to p-p-ick-k usss uh-up-p.” He shivered again, violently.

Pastor Jim leaned over again, lunging for the door. He rolled the window back up and then pushed it open. “Get in.”

Sammy started for the door at once then pulled back as if he had run into an invisible barrier. He looked up at Dean, eyes wide, jaw vibrating as his teeth chattered away. His puppy dog eyes were turned on all the way, making him look sweet and sad and needy. He silently pleaded with his brother to let them get into the car.

“P-pastor?” Dean croaked. He cleared his sore throat and tried not to wince as he did so. “H-how do we kn-know…”

Pastor Jim smiled and nodded, ducking his head a little. “You’re good boys. Bless you both. John taught you well: Christo.

That was all Sam and Dean needed to prove he wasn’t a demon. They both scampered into the car, tossing their backpacks on the front seat foot well and huddling together on the seat. Dean pulled the door closed and the incessant tapping of ran was no longer against them but against the car. He had an arm around his shaking little brother and his other hand free to scrub at his nose. He felt water trickling and dripping from his hair down his face. The drops teased his nose, intensifying the urge to sneeze. But he managed to scrub it away.

Pastor Jim’s car was kind of a piece of crap, but the heater worked, and the Pastor turned it on full blast for them. It still wasn’t warm enough, but it was better. And, after about five minutes, Sammy stopped shivering. Dean’s relief in that was great.

When they got to the church, Pastor Jim slowed but kept driving around the building. He parked outside the parsonage, as close to the front door as possible. “I’ll go unlock it. You boys ready to make a run for it when I do?” He smiled at them and nodded when they told him they gathered up their backpacks and said they were ready.

A minute or so later, they’d crossed the salt-laden threshold of the doorway and were dripping on the floor of the entryway. The storm was still fierce outside, the wind howling and banging the shutters against the building, the rain tap dancing against the roof. But inside, finally, they were safe and warm.

Sammy’s body shook with another shiver, and Dean pulled him against his side. They were safe, at least. Maybe not warm yet.

Pastor Jim took a deep breath. “Let me find you some dry things to change into before you catch your death. Wait here. If you drip all over the house, Mrs. Mason will never let me hear the end of it.” He slipped his shoes off and headed down the hallway. He was back moments later with a laundry basket full of almost everything Dean wanted to see. There were some t-shirts, tube socks, and sweatshirts. He had sweatpants for Dean and a pair of his running shorts for Sammy. He also had a stack of towels to dry their hair and blankets to wrap around each of them. “Change,” he told them. “Then meet me in the kitchen. I’ll put some water on for hot chocolate.”

Dean had never seen his little brother so eager to change his clothes. Dean had to help him with the sweater, which was so wet and heavy it fought against leaving Sammy’s body. Dean also had to roll the sleeves of the Adult Large sweatshirt up a little in order to even get to Sammy’s hands. And Sam had to clutch the shorts with one hand to keep them up, even as they fell well below his knees. But once he was wrapped in a blanket, he was ready to scamper over to the kitchen. “Just a second,” Dean croaked again, clearing his throat repeatedly and rubbing again at his ticklish nose. “Let me dry your hair.” He threw a towel over Sammy’s head and rubbed in every direction. He couldn’t get it completely dry, but it wasn’t dripping any more by the time he was done. “Okay, go.”

Sammy left for the kitchen and Dean piled Sammy’s wet clothes in the empty laundry basket. Then Dean set to work on himself. It was a bit of a relief to be alone for the moment, knowing Sammy was safe in the next room. He rubbed even more at his nose and sniffed a little more now that no one was around to hear him. Drips still fell down his face and tickled his nose. He could wipe his face dry, but he couldn’t rub the urge to sneeze away entirely. He had to settle for rubbing just enough to calm his nose so a sneeze wouldn’t escape yet. That was the best he could hope for under these circumstances.

His sneakers made squelching sounds as he stepped in them, so he was glad to get out of those. He yanked his socks off and had to fight the urge to put the dry ones on immediately. But first he had to deal with his jeans. He unbuttoned and unzipped them, but shoving them down was hard work. They were soaked through, gripping and sticking to his skin. He pulled and grunted and then pulled and grunted some more. Finally he managed to free himself from the thick denim. His flannel shirt wasn’t as hard to get off, and his t-shirt clung to him but was easy enough to free. The amulet Sammy had given him for Christmas years ago was cool against his chest, but he left it on.

When he put on the dry clothes, his whole body relaxed in a way that made him realize how tense he’d been. He wiggled his toes in the large, thick socks. He pulled his hands into the sleeves of the sweatshirt, wanting to retreat inside it completely for warmth. Pastor Jim’s clothes were a little large on him as well, but the waistband was elastic and they were all warm and dry, which was his biggest concern. He towel-dried his hair then pulled a blanket around himself as well, wearing it like a cape.

Dean arrived at the parsonage’s kitchen with a basket of wet clothes and towels in his arms.

“Oh good.” Pastor Jim took the basket at once and walked it over to the washer and dryer tucked into the little alcove off the kitchen.

Settling down at the table, Dean took stock of his little brother. Sammy looked pale and cold, but he wasn’t shivering any more. His fingers, like Dean’s, were pruney, like he’d been in the bathtub too long. And his lips didn’t quite look the right color.

eh-ehh-TChooo!

A shiver ran through Dean as he watched his little brother sniff and rub his nose. Sammy had better not be getting sick too. Dean cleared his throat. “Pastor Jim, do you have a thermometer?”

He did, and he went to get it. Sammy didn’t want his temperature taken at first, but once Dean told him he wasn’t getting hot chocolate unless he obeyed, Sammy opened his mouth. Sammy tried to be patient, though his gaze kept shifting to the kettle on the stove. While they waited, Dean and Pastor Jim unpacked the school backpacks, setting homework papers out and books open on the kitchen counter to dry as best they could.

When it was time to take the thermometer out, Pastor Jim took a look at it. “Perfectly normal. Good for you, Sammy.” He ruffled Sammy’s hair then turned to Dean. “Your turn.”

“Nah, I’m fine,” Dean replied, feeling about as far from find as it was possible to be.

Pastor Jim was ready to believe him and let it go. He even turned to go to get mugs out of the cupboard for the hot chocolate. It was Sammy who insisted “No hot chocolate until you have your temperature taken, Dean.”

Dean clenched his jaw, grinding his teeth a little. “Sammy, I’m fih fine!” He rubbed at his nose again, a faint, ticklish feeling played there, moving down to settle in his nostrils. He thought, this time, he might actually sneeze, and a rush of panic came over him. So he didn’t care that Sammy was watching him or that Pastor Jim turned around and also watched him. Dean didn’t have a choice except to rub his knuckles hard against his nose over and over again. Except the feeling didn’t back down the way it was supposed to. If anything, it got worse. “ihh!” Oh no. “Ihh!” No, no. “ihh-hih!” Oh hell no! Not after all this. He survived the school day and the wait for Sammy. He made it through the bus ride and all that time at the bus stop. He couldn’t just lose it now, not now that he was warm and mostly dry and comfortable. But the tickle in his nose seemed to feel otherwise. Realizing the inevitable had come at last, he dropped the tiny bit of resistance he had left in him. “Ih! Ih! Ihhh! IH-HIHTxxxxshh!” he sneezed into his hand. Well, that was kinda gross. But he couldn’t very well sneeze into his sleeve; it wasn’t his shirt. And Pastor Jim didn’t have any napkins in a holder on the table. Before Dean had a chance to figure out what to do next, he was completely overtaken by sneezes.

ihhh IH-HIHDdschhhhhh! IhNngshhhhh! HihKtschhhh! Ih hihhh IH HIHKTSchhhhhh! Ihh IHH-Hxxxshhhh! Ihhh Uhhhh… Sniff!

This was exactly what he’d feared would happen if he let one out. Sure, he felt a little better now. That constant tickling in his nose had pulled back almost entirely and the pressure in his head was lighter. But there was no ignoring what had just happened.

“Right,” Pastor Jim said, taking a folded and pressed handkerchief out of a pocket. “Here you go just in case.”

Dean took the hankie and pressed it to both his hand at his nose, drying them. Then he closed his eyes, waiting for the inevitable discussion about the cold currently raging inside him.

But it didn’t come. Instead, a mug of hot chocolate was set down on the table in front of him. Pastor Jim had one for himself as well, joining the two drenched Winchester brothers in their enjoyment of the beverage. “I’ll call around and see if I can figure out where your father is. You last saw him this morning?”

Sammy nodded. He had a faint chocolate mustache when he lifted his head and put down his mug. “Mmm hmm. Said he was going out of town but not far. Said he’d pick us up at the bus stop after school.”

“We were out there waiting for over an hour,” Dean said, his voice rough again. He cleared it but didn’t look up. He kept his eyes on the wooden tabletop as if maybe they wouldn’t talk about his sneezing if he didn’t look them in the eyes. “It was just supposed to be a quick job, a ghost. Shouldn’t have taken so… so long… ihh!” Shit, it was going to happen again.

This time, Dean pressed the hankie to his nose and mouth as the sneezy feeling rose up in his nose again. His eyes fluttered shut, though he was trying to keep them open. And his mouth dropped open though he was trying to keep it shut. “Ihhh IHHH HTIDSchhhh! H’KSchhhhh!

Pastor Jim waited a few seconds to make sure Dean was finished. “God bless you. Now I’m sure your father’s fine, wherever he is. He’s probably out looking for you right now.”

Sammy looked worried, which was exactly what Dean had been hoping to avoid. “What if he’s angry we didn’t stay where he was supposed to pick us up?” Sammy bit his lower lip. “We can’t call to tell him we’re here with you.”

“We don’t need to. He’ll find us. He’ll be looking for you and worried about you, and he’ll call me to ask for my help.”

“But what if he doesn’t?” Sammy’s fingers played with the handle of the mug. Then he started turning it in place. “What if he never calls?”

Dean lifted his head and cleared his throat. “He’ll call, Sammy. Just drink your hot chocolate, okay?”

Sammy looked worriedly from Dean to Pastor Jim, thinking about Dean’s order. Then he nodded decisively and took another swallow of his hot chocolate. This made him smile.

Which made Dean smile too. Until his nose tickled again. Then he looked back down at the table. “Ih!” He rubbed at his nose. “Ihhhh!” He tightened his grip on the hankie, getting it ready. “Ihhhhh!” Then it went away. Completely. All that build-up and nothing. Damn it. Now that it was out in the open and he could sneeze he couldn’t actually sneeze. What the hell?

Pastor Jim placed another handkerchief on the table in front of Dean. Then he tossed back the last of the hot chocolate in his mug, swallowed, and walked over to the beige wall phone. “Hello… Bill? It’s Jim Murphy. Haven’t heard from John Winchester today have you?”

It was back. A sharp, sudden breath in and a grab at the hankie and then “Ihh-HIPTSchuhhhhhh!” He started to relax then thought twice about it. “hehh ehhhh ihhhh heh-Ihhhhh Ih Ihhtxxxsh! Uhh…” He wiped at his nose.

“No, nothing like that. Just have John give me a call if you hear from him. Thanks, Martin.”

Dean felt another sneeze on its way. He breathed hot into the hanky and gave in, closing his eyes and waiting. “Ihh-IHXShhhh!”  His hot chocolate was probably lukewarm by now, but he didn’t care. “Ihhhh… IH IHH IH-HIHTSchhhhhhh!” After so long not sneezing, he had to admit it felt kinda good to let them out.

“Hello, Caleb? It’s Jim Murphy.” He paused, listening. “Glad to hear it. Look, I’m calling about John Winchester. Haven’t heard from anyone about him today, have you?”

Dean folded the handkerchief and wiped gingerly at his nose. It still felt ticklish, and he wondered if it was going to feel like that until his cold went away. “ihhhhh! IHHH! IH-KXxxchhhshh! Uhh…”  He wiped his nose again.

“Thanks. And I hope your leg heals quickly, Irv.”  Pastor Jim hung up the phone again and this time didn’t dial another number.

Sammy’s fingers tensed on the mug’s handle again. “What—“ he began, but the phone rang and cut him off.

Already right there, Pastor Jim answered right away. “Hello, this is…” He paused, smiling and nodding along, as if the person on the other end of the phone could see him. “Yes. No need, John. I happened to be out that way visiting parishioners and picked them up. They’re right here, safe and sound, but they were caught in that storm and drenched to the bone.” He gestured to the phone, but both boys had already figured out it was their dad. “Dean? Ah…”

The washer buzzed loudly, indicating its cycle was done.

“Dean’s actually helping me dry their clothes.” At this, Dean sprang to his feet and went to move the laundry from washer to dryer. He didn’t want to make Pastor Jim into a liar. “I can go get him if… No, Sammy’s right here.” Pastor Jim handed the phone to Sammy.

Sammy took the receiver. “Hello Dad?” He listened. “Yes, Sir.” He paused. “We will, Sir.” He looked back toward Dean. “I’ll tell him. Thanks. Did you want to talk to Pastor Jim again?” Sammy handed the receiver back.

“No, it’s not a problem at all. Take care, John. See you tomorrow.” He hung up the phone. “The case was a little more complicated than expected, but your father will be home tomorrow. You’ll be spending the night here, and I’ll get you to school on time in the morning.”

Sammy seemed fine with this, especially when Pastor Jim gave him a second helping of hot chocolate. Dean was sniffling as he moved the clothes from washer to dryer, rubbing his nose into his shoulder when his hands were full. Pastor Jim leaned back against the wall. “I’m sorry you have to spend the night here. I know you’d probably prefer sleeping in your own bed when you don’t feel well, but I’ll do all I can to make sure you’re comfortable, all right? You can take the spare bedroom and have that all to yourself; Sammy can sleep on the couch.”

Dean felt grateful. And sneezy. And sore and achy and run down and tired. But mostly grateful. He still couldn’t remember exactly when he’d started feeling sick, and most of that afternoon was still a cold and miserable blur to him, but he knew he was going to remember a night of having his own bedroom. Not having to worry about keeping Sammy up at night with his sneezing and coughing or snoring was more than he could have hoped for. “Thank you. Really. I… ihhhh… I cah-can’t ihhh-HEPPTTShhhhhh!

“God bless. It’s my pleasure, Dean. Maybe one day you’ll be in a position to return the favor. But for right now…  maybe you’d like to lie down now? You look beat. I can finish up with the dryer and help Sammy with his homework. Mrs. Mason will have dinner ready by seven; I’ll wake you up then to see if you feel like eating.”

With an agreeable nod, Dean headed down the hallway toward the spare bedroom meant for another pastor, should one arrive and decide to live in the parsonage. Dean wondered how Pastor Jim would explain the salt lines and the room of weapons if that happened. Right now, he was just glad to be dry and warm and safe here with Sammy.

Dean didn’t bother getting undressed or even throwing off the blanket around his shoulders. He just slipped beneath the covers exactly as he was, let his head sink back into a pillow, and allowed himself to finally, truly relax.
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About

Contents of this journal include: sneeze fetish references and lots of hurt/comfort, short fics and/or WIPS, everything from gen and het to slash and femslash, everything from G to NC-17, random ramblings about my life and fandom obsessions.

September 2017

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