Life Gets Tasteless

Disclaimer: They don't belong to me, but I like to play with them. No Winchesters were actually harmed in the writing of this story.

Dedicated: To IHeartSam7 (Sammysgal): I don't know if this is exactly what you were looking for, but I hope you like it. I guess misery really does love company. Feel better soon, girly.

Special Thanks: To CharlieGirl79 for giving this a proof-reading once over and to Jen B, ever supportive, even though she too is sick. Jen apparently believes tonsillitis is a competitive event.

This story is unbeta'd because I was trying to push it out quickly. All errors contained within are entirely my own.

Warning: This ficlet was dried on air-fluff.

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Sam shivered under the thin motel blankets. His body ached and his head throbbed in the vise grip of a sinus infection. He couldn't breathe through his nose and his lungs rattled slightly when he inhaled. Sam curled his legs up closer to his chest and huddled in a miserable ball.

Forcing open bleary eyes, Sam focused on the red LCD display on the clock. Three-thirty. Dean would be back any time now. He really should peel himself out of bed before then or he would not be able to convince his big brother that he was fine.

Sam kicked at the bedcovers, his feet entangling in the copious layers. He huffed in frustration and finally succeeded in liberating his limbs from the cotton and polyester prison. He pushed up to a sitting position and held his head in his hands for several moments, waiting for the room to stop spinning.

Stumbling towards the bathroom, Sam paused only long enough to grab his sweatpants and fresh undergarments before shutting the door shut behind him. Remaking the beds would have to wait.

Shaking hands turned on the faucets. Sam held freezing fingers under the running warm water until they showed signs of thawing before splashing water on his face. He looked in the mirror and critically evaluated his appearance. His sweaty hair and pale face were going to give him away. Never mind the fact he sounded like that dog from the movie, 'Milo and Otis' he had watched as a little kid.

Sam decided a shower would be the best cover for his sweat-dampened hair. He turned off the faucets and spun quickly in the small bathroom to start the shower. Too quickly, as the room flipped once before regaining a solid appearance. While the shower water heated, Sam staggered back out to the bedroom.

He returned the borrowed blankets to the other bed and clumsily remade both beds. The housekeeping staff had not been allowed in for days and Sam figured his poor job would still be better than Dean's best attempt. He snagged the mountain of crumpled tissues on the bedside table and tossed them in the garbage, burying them underneath the chip bags from last night's after dinner snack.

He scanned the room quickly. Everything else seemed to be as it was when he and Dean had left the room hours previously. He made his way back to the shower, bumping his hip off the doorframe and into the sink cabinet. He hit the counter flat-palmed and stood for a moment regaining his balance before shedding his clothes and climbing into the shower.

The hot water felt incredible on sore muscles and joints. The steam billowed up in large clouds and the moisture started his nose running. He blew yellow ropes of mucous into his hands and washed them off in the running water. He grimaced disgustedly and leaned back to wet his hair. A quick shampoo and rinse later, braced against the shower wall, Sam simply enjoyed the heat of water on his skin. He finally felt warm for the first time in hours.

The door slamming shot Sam into action; pulling from the blissful spray, he nearly slipped on the soapy shower floor in his haste. Fumbling with the controls Sam finally managed to turn the water off when a resounding knock hit the door. "Sammy, you in there?" Dean called through the wooden barrier.

"Yeah," Sam replied, dismayed at how tired his voice sounded and annoyed at his brother's use of the old nickname. "I'll be out in a minute."

"You got five before I bust in," Dean shot back. "I have to get ready too."

"Whatever," Sam retorted quietly. It took a great deal of effort, because Sam just knew his head had to weigh fifty pounds, but he dressed, combed his hair and emerged from the bathroom in less than five minutes.

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Dean sat perched on the bed, facing the bathroom door. Springing up from the bed, he met Sam on his way through the small room. Dean stood in front of his little brother who steadfastly refused to return his gaze. He waited, knowing Sam would cave under the pressure. It may not be fair, but who ever said life was fair? – Certainly not a Winchester.

As expected, Sam squirmed under the scrutiny and finally met Dean's eyes. "What?" he asked with a tone of annoyance only teenagers could manage.

"When were you going to tell me, you're sick?" Dean asked. Fever-glazed hazel eyes flicked guiltily away before returning to his.

"I don't know what you're…" Sam started.

"Sammy, they call an adult when a kid leaves school," Dean interrupted softly.

Sam scowled, though whether it was in reference to being called a kid or being called Sammy, Dean was not sure. "You're not an adult, you're my brother," Sam grumbled.

Dean rolled his eyes. Ah, so that was it. "Hey, I'm an adult," Dean mildly protested. "So, when were you going to tell me?" He was not letting Sam off the hook.

"You know how it is at these schools. You sneeze one too many times and they send you home," Sam obfuscated. He squeezed past Dean and sat down on the edge of his bed.

Dean took in the shaking hands when Sam pushed his too long bangs out of his eyes. "So, the 102 degree fever the nurse told me about had nothing to do with it?" he asked, flopping down on the opposite bed so he was once again eye level with his little brother.

Sam's guilty expression was priceless and Dean smothered a laugh. "I'm fourteen," Sam stated as if Dean had somehow forgotten. "I'm perfectly capable of staying here by myself."

"No way," Dean replied. The look of defiance on Sam's face pushed Dean to continue. "It doesn't really matter. Jenna canceled."

Sam eyed him suspiciously and Dean could tell he was not buying his story entirely. "Dean, I don't want you to stay. It's your last chance to go out before Dad comes home and snags you for the hunt he's scoping out. You should go. Watch a movie with Jenna. I'm just going to sleep anyway."

"I already told you, Jenna canceled," Dean replied. He could see the moment Sam resigned himself to the situation. He flashed Dean a look of quiet understanding and lay back on the bed. "I stopped and picked up soup on the way home. Why don't you take NyQuil and eat some soup before crashing?"

"Food doesn't really sound good right now," Sam answered, closing his eyes.

"Well, it's because of what they say," Dean quipped. "But you should eat anyway."

Sam cracked his eyes open and looked at Dean quizzically. "What do they say?"

"Life gets tasteless when you have a cold," Dean replied sagely. He cracked a grin when Sam groaned. Rearranging the pillows, he helped Sam sit in the bed, propped against the pillow-cushioned headboard.

Dean picked up the Styrofoam bowls of take-out chicken noodle soup, passed one to Sam and sat down beside him in the bed. He picked up the remote and turned on the television. Scrolling quickly through the channels he found 'The Rockford Files.'

"Sweet," Dean said, setting down the remote.

They ate in silence broken only by occasional laughter as they ate chicken soup and watched the show. Dean noticed Sam had quit eating several minutes ago and surreptitiously glanced at his bowl. Sam had barely eaten any of the soup.

Sam's eyes drifted closed and he leaned back against the pillows. Dean tore his attention away from the show when Sam's soft, congested snoring reached his ears. He glanced over and rescued the bowl of congealing chicken soup from Sam's lax fingers. When his little brother did not stir, Dean thought it would be a good time to call Jenna.

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Sam awoke when Dean slid out of the bed and stepped outside. The door was slightly cracked and although his brother kept his voice low, Sam could still make out bits of the conversation.

"Jenna, I'm sorry," Dean said.

Sam sat up further in the bed, pulling the covers up to his chin. He shivered twice and strained to hear more of Dean's phone call.

"Ah, don't be mad," Dean coaxed. "I just can't make it tonight. I'll make it up to you next week."

Sam could hear Jenna's shrill voice shouting through the phone even from this distance. Dean chose that moment to peek in the door at him and, noticing he was awake, shut the door effectively blocking out the remaining conversation.

A few minutes later, Dean came back inside and tossed his phone onto the far bed. "Are you ready for some NyQuil?" he asked, turning his green eyes on Sam.

Sam knew his current physical state was being evaluated by his big brother, but he could not muster the strength to pretend to be okay. He was miserable. Sniffing loudly, he curled further down into the covers and draped an arm over his burning eyes. "You didn't have to stay home," he whispered. Sometimes he hated how responsible Dean felt for him. "I would have been okay and you deserve a night out."

"What I deserve is a kick-ass car, devastatingly handsome looks and a hot girl," Dean retorted, laying a hand on Sam's forehead. "Looks like I got all three, just not quite the way I envisioned."

Sam snorted and nearly choked on mucous sliding down his throat. "Jerk," he coughed. The coughing intensified and Sam had to sit up to catch his breath. When the coughing stilled and his breathing was under control he looked up into concerned jade eyes.

"Bitch," Dean smirked. "Here." Dean thrust a dose cup of green liquid in Sam's face.

Sam wrinkled his nose. "I hate this stuff. It gives me psychedelic dreams all night and it takes forever the next day to wear off."

"You need the sleep, Sammy," Dean insisted. He sat down on the bed next to Sam and held the cup out again. "Humor me, okay?"

Sam scowled over the top of the plastic cup, but downed the contents in one gulp, regardless. He coughed lightly as the foul-tasting, thick liquid slowly made its way past his tongue and down his throat. "Yuck," he grimaced, sticking out his tongue and handing the cup back to Dean.

Dean settled down next to him and flipped back on the television. Sam shivered and hugged the blankets closer to him. Before he could protest, Dean reached over, grabbed the blankets from the other bed and threw them over Sam.

Sam smiled, hidden under the covers. Despite the fact he wished Dean had gone out tonight as planned, it was nice having him here. He rested his heavy head on the pillows and blinked lazily as the medicine began to take effect. Sam looked up at his big brother's blue lit face. Even while he relaxed doing something as mundane as watching television, Sam could tell he was on guard and at the ready, prepared to watch out for him. It gave him a warm feeling inside knowing he was loved.

Oh, Dean never said the words to him. Actions spoke for Dean Winchester and they kept him home on a Friday night with a sick little brother instead of out with his girlfriend. Sam had met Jenna once. She was a tall, leggy, beautiful but not too smart girl. Just the kind of girl his big brother liked and they always seemed to like him. Sam suspected Dean was missing out on more than just a movie tonight.

Sam sniffled through his congested nose and sank deeper into the pillows. He allowed his head to list to the right and so what if it did land on Dean's shoulder? He lacked the will to move it and besides, he kind of liked the pseudo-hug it allowed him to filch from his brother. Sam drifted closer to the edges of sleep as the Nyquil eased his muscle aches and cleared his nose.

Moments away from a sound sleep Dean's rumbling voice echoed in his ear. "You better not be getting snot on my shirt," he grumbled.

Sam laughed lightly and replied, "I think it's too late."

"G'night, kiddo," Dean said by way of reply.

Sam shifted in the bed, trying to get comfortable. "I feel like crap, Dean," Sam groused.

"You look like crap," Dean replied agreeably. "But you'll feel better tomorrow."

Sam opened his eyes, lifted his head and shot Dean a questioning look. "You don't know that," he complained somewhat petulantly.

"Sure I do," Dean replied condescendingly, patting Sam on the head as if he needed help understanding. "Because I'm the big brother and I said so."

Sam rolled his eyes, but smiled as he lowered his head back to Dean's shoulder. He drifted to sleep listening to the droning television and the occasional stifled laugh from his big brother, secure in the knowledge that he really would feel better tomorrow.

Fin

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AN: Yes, I am in the middle of a long shot, but I needed a break and besides, I was asked nicely. :c)

Okay, back to work on the other story. BG.

P.S. As a mother and a pet owner, I clean a variety of messes and none of them really bother me EXCEPT for mucous. I actually just about gagged myself with one of the lines in this story. I think I deserve extra credit points for that one. LOL.

Also, this was my first abuse of the "jerk – bitch" combination. I get two more, right?

Lastly, I don't know if 'they' say, "Life gets tasteless when you have a cold," but my father-in-law does when he is sick. Repeatedly.