Title: The Weakest Link
Author: Mad Server
Word Count: 1500
Summary: There's some rain. Dean catches a cold. Sam doesn't.
A/N: Many thanks to my indispensable beta, i-speak-tongue, who de-awkward-ified some wordings (see how I need her?), caught me in some fuzzy logic and made Dean sound more like Dean. Thanks too to Allison, who didn't seem too fussed by having to help me come up with alternate wordings for Dean's man-parts.
Disclaimer: I don't own them. Honest. Unless maybe the 'you break it, you bought it' rule applies.
It takes forever to track down the grave. Forever again to dig it up.
At first the rain doesn't bother Dean. He steps into it warm and full, fresh from burgers and a pint with Sam. Everything's been mapped out, and the gory deaths are going to stop, and their waitress was hot, and he knows where she's going to be later.
Then the gravestone isn't where it's supposed to be. Up and down the rows of markers, flashlights flick from stone to stone. Icy rain pricks his scalp and trickles down his neck. It's not like they brought umbrellas, not like they ever think to. 'Little cold out here,' he shouts at the treeline. Sam's a few rows up, crouched down, scrutinizing a stone angel. If he answers, Dean doesn't hear it over the rain.
By the time Dean spots the grave marker smack against the fence, toppled over and covered in weeds, his clothes are soaked through, and his junk's all painfully puckered. He waves Sam over, and when Sam shines his flashlight at him Dean sees his own breath. Sam exhales satisfaction, starts digging, and Dean stands guard, shuffles from foot to foot to keep the blood flowing. He watches Sam work, the long loose limbs and slack face, and misses the days when Sam would have been bitching and moaning about the rain: he felt tougher then.
Dean's turn to dig, and he's shivering uncontrollably. He takes the shovel as Sam passes it off, his fingers numb and barely working. Dean digs the blade in with his heel, bullies a load of mud up out of the hole, handle wedged between palm and numb thumb. Endless clumsy shovel strokes, and finally the blade strikes wood.
The bones are barely up in flames when Dean starts sneezing.
'You OK?' Sam asks on the fourth one, seeking him out with the flashlight.
Dean squints, shields his eyes with the empty gas can. 'Never better,' he growls, but snuffles deep, wipes his nose on his sleeve.
Back in the car Dean cranks the heat on full blast, leans over Sam to raid the glove compartment for napkins. He blows his nose and chucks the damp wad out the window. Doesn't need to look to know Sam's giving him the hairy eyeball, all quiet and assessing in the passenger's seat. He wishes Sam would just bitch him out for littering, like in the good old days. Sam knows all his tells now.
Dean slides his baby into gear, guns it down the muddy dirt road.
Before Dean even opens his eyes, he knows he's screwed. His head's tight and sore, his throat's dry and his nose is clogged. He's still cold from the rain the night before, and his legs are aching when they shouldn't be. Dean' s sick. And man, does he hate being the weakest link.
He can hear Sam's fingers clacking away softly at his laptop's keyboard, over across the room, and he lies still, strategizing. Or trying to, around his headful of snot. If Sam doesn't notice he's sick, then he won't have to own up to his weakling status, and in a way he really won't be the weakling, and a whole category of ways in which this sucks will be wiped out, just like that.
He's going to need some kind of decongestant though if he's going to pull that one off, and pretty fast too. He'll get up, grunt at Sam and dive straight into the shower, then beeline for the car, and grab them some coffee in town but also some drugs. Sweet sweet drugs. And by the time he's back with the coffee and is really expected to talk about anything, the drugs will have kicked in and Sam will with any luck be none the wiser. Except that Sam's so damn observant these days.
Dean sneezes - shit - and freezes in place, still tucked up in bed. He keeps his eyes shut, playing possum. Hears Sam's fingers at the keyboard go still, and breathes carefully down his itchy throat, suddenly aware of some gunk in his lungs that would very much like to come out.
The typing sounds resume and Dean decides he's going to have to make his move pretty damn soon. He'll just leave enough of a window that he doesn't have to acknowledge the sneeze, 'wake up' and jump in the shower. And god, since when does he care this much what Sam thinks of him?
Dean groans inwardly as his nose starts to itch again, feels his breath starting to crackle around whatever's in his lungs. He cuts down his air flow until he's practically holding his breath, and is wondering if he can still pull off the yawn-and-stretch he'd been planning or whether it would be wiser at this point to skip it and just jump out of bed and make for the bathroom, when he erupts in a string of explosive sneezes, which give way to a violent coughing jag. He opens his eyes, fumbles for the box of tissues on the bedside table. He's fighting but he can't get the fit under control, and after awhile he sees Sam's concerned face hovering above him, gets thumped on the back.
'That didn't go how I planned,' Dean rasps out eventually, smearing away involuntary tears with the heel of his hand, his throat flaring up in pain with each word. Hazily he can make out that Sam's eyebrows are drawn in, that his mouth is stretched in a sympathetic smile.
'If that was what you'd planned, I'd be a little worried about your planning skills.'
Dean snorts at this, and it turns into another sneeze. As he's blowing his nose, Sam catches him by surprise with a cool hand on his forehead, brushing off again before Dean thinks to push it away.
''Bout time you woke up,' Sam goes on, settling himself on the edge of Dean's bed and picking up something that rattles off the bedside table, a pill bottle Dean presumes. 'I was starting to think I was gonna have to wake you up so you could take these, and between the temp and Mr. Pointy there...' Sam gestures with the bottle toward Dean's pillow, and the knife he keeps under it: 'it wasn't exactly my first choice.'
Sam has Dean at a disadvantage on a few different fronts now, and Dean's really feeling it. He hauls himself up into a sitting position in a feeble attempt to reassert his alpha male status, but with this simple movement the room washes out white and his stomach sours.
'Hey,' he hears Sam say, and feels a warm hand on his shoulder, pressing him back down against the mattress. 'Easy.'
Dean is so the wuss of the hour. 'Shit,' he mutters, sniffling through the nausea, the white spots dissipating bit by bit until he can make out Sam's soft hazel eyes again, that forehead bunched with worry. 'Goddamn rain.' And that's a concession.
They're going to have to get umbrellas. He'll make sure Sam's is pink, with Hello Kitty on it or My Little Pony, and he'll tell him it was all they had left. He pictures Sam's face when he receives the umbrella, then Sam using it on a hunt, out in a rainy field with a sawed-off in his other hand.
'What?' Sam asks, and Dean can feel the grin plastered across his face, but he's busy wondering if there's a way to convince Sam to wear a matching T-shirt too, if there's a way to make it happen without destroying all their other clothes first.
'Shit,' murmurs Sam, his fingers cool at Dean's hairline, and then he's shaking pills into hand. 'Come on, man, get these in you.'
He sees Sam hunting in a tutu, then in a Pippi Longstocking wig, then in a sailor suit, and he's coughing and laughing, and Sam's trying to put a bottle of water in his hand. 'I'm good,' he chokes out at last, registering the panic in Sam's eyes. 'I'm fine, I'm good.'
'You're fine,' Sam says dubiously.
'Yeah,' says Dean, motioning for the pills, 'well, close enough.'
So maybe he's the weakest link today. So what? It's not like they had plans. And Sam's turn will roll back around soon enough...