Heat of the Moment
"Temp's down... plenty of fluids... get him to eat something..."
Sam heard the distant muttering, as did his gut because it started growling.
"I think he's waking up..."
On opening his eyes, Sam was met with the concerned faces of his brother and father, right up close, and nearly screamed in shock. He twisted and tried scrambling away but Dean caught hold of his flailing arms and pinned him to the bed.
"Sshhh. Just take it easy, Sammy," Dean whispered. "You've been real sick, but you're gonna be ok. You understand me, kiddo?"
Sam switched his gaze from Dean's face to John's, then nodded. "Y-yeah..." and winced when the movement pulled on his tender skin. It was one more career choice he could scratch off his list: French Foreign Legion? Definitely out.
His throat was raw and badly in need of some kind of fluid if Sam stood any chance of appeasing his empty stomach. Fortunately, Dean was on the case and tilting a bottle of water to his little brother's lips.
As soon as the bottle was empty, Sam drifted off into a deep sleep.
The next time Sam came awake the smell of cooked food made his nostrils twitch and his gut gurgled happily with expectation.
John was standing at the motel room dining table unpacking several steaming cartons, and checking each one.
Dean appeared to be sulking and it seemed to Sam as though there had been an argument. He soon found out why.
"Aw, Dad! Couldn't you have gotten me pizza too? Ya know I hate that health food crap."
Sam's ears pricked up at that.
"It'll do you good to eat something other than fast food, Dean," their father retorted, sternly. "You eat way too much junk."
"Oh yeah?" Dean picked up a large pizza box and scowled. "Talk about pot calling kettle!"
John merely grinned at his son's frustration. "What can I say? They ran out of soup and sandwiches at the bar. Pizza was all Meredith had left."
"Meredith?" Dean glared at his father. "Who the hell is Meredith?"
"Bar maid," John didn't look too comfortable. "Asked her to put something healthy together for you boys."
"Uhuh." Dean was cultivating a smug grin. "The bar maid you described, and I quote, as 'unnecessarily ugly with an ass like a two bulldogs fighting in a sack'?"
"Turns out she's not so bad," John grumbled petulantly, "and the woman sure can cook."
Actually, on hearing his youngest son was ill with heat stroke, Meredith had been perfectly kind and sweet, and John regretted his earlier harsh words about the poor woman.
Sam listened to all this with mild amusement, though on the inside he felt nervous as hell. No doubt, once the food was consumed, he'd be on the receiving end of the famous John Winchester rant. Sam wasn't entirely sure how any of this was his fault, but did feel certain his Dad wouldn't let this go without telling Sam what a waste of space he was.
After all, Sam had failed.
Sam had given up during his punishment, and succumbed to the heat.
No father would want a son like Sam Winchester.
He couldn't wait any longer. Desperate to get it over with, Sam pushed back the covers and sat up. Tentatively swinging his legs over the bed, he pressed down with both feet and hands, and stood up, swaying. Shaking with the effort, he took a pace forward.
John and Dean immediately glanced over, and neither looked too happy to see the youngest Winchester out of bed.
"Sam, get back in bed, now!" John barked out, and regretted it when Sam flinched, hung his head and turned away dejectedly. "Sammy," he called softly. "I'm sorry, kid. Didn't mean to shout."
But what he got for an answer was Sam's slumped shoulders, and the kid shuffled his way awkwardly back to bed. It was a little slow going, having used up most of his energy on getting up in the first place, and his sunburn probably didn't make things any easier.
Dean sighed, moved quickly across the room and gently pushed his little brother back under the covers.
"If you need anything, just say. Ok?" asked Dean, worriedly searching Sam's sad face. "Whatever you need, kiddo, just relax and stay put."
"I just..." Sam sighed, eyes watering a little.
"What, Sam?" Dean asked, gently.
Sam looked up at his father, tears spilling over and stinging his face.
"I wanted to say... I'm sorry, Dad. Sorry for being such a failure," the kid hung his head again, mumbling, "I can't seem to do anything right. Guess you must be pretty disappointed with me."
The silence was worrying, until a warm, gentle hand forced his chin back to face John. His father was smiling sadly, eyes suspiciously bright.
"You're not a failure, Sammy," John rubbed a thumb over Sam's cheek, gently wiping away a stray tear. "You're a pain in my ass, strong willed, hot tempered, stubborn... smart, determined, loyal, but never a failure. And I'm so damn sorry for implying you're a bad son, 'cause you just ain't, kid. I shoulda let you explain."
"But Dad..." Sam began but John shushed him.
"Most of all, I'm sorry for sending you out in that heat, for nearly killing you," said John with a little sniff. "Can't believe how stupid I've been. I didn't even give you an out, just threatened you with more if you stopped. But you kept going... Sammy, I know it's a lot to ask, but d'ya think you might forgive me one day?"
Sam nodded, the movement a little jerky. "I do already," he whispered. "Can I ask you something?"
"Sure, son. Anything."
"Uh... what do you want me to do next time?" Sam felt nervous asking, afraid his Dad might think him petulant. "I mean, next time a class over runs, do I just get up and walk out?"
John sighed. He really hadn't thought that through properly. There was no way on God's Earth he should have been encouraging his son to disobey a teacher, but that's exactly what he'd done. And wasn't that really the bare origins of this mess?
Sam had made the right decision, and John had punished him for it.
"No," John reached up and gently ruffled Sam's hair. "You played the game according to the rules, but I lost my temper and threw the board in the air. You made the right call, kiddo, especially with the cops present. You had no choice."
Sam's eyes widened. "How did you know about that?"
John glanced at Dean. "Over to you, buddy."
Whilst Dean explained to Sam about Jimmy's phone call, John set about distributing the food. Two large bowls of fresh chicken and vegetable soup, and thick beef salad sandwiches, along with two chocolate milkshakes and some fresh fruit, appeared on the nightstand beside Sam.
John sat back with his own food; a large pepperoni and cheese pizza, which the brothers eyed longingly as each piece was chewed and devoured.
Dean tried his best not to sulk when he tasted the soup and found, to his surprise, that it was excellent. The sandwiches were delicious despite the salad, which Dean began surreptitiously removing and pushing on to Sam's plate when he wasn't looking...
Dean nearly dropped his sandwich when his father barked at him.
"What?" he replied innocently.
"Eat your salad!"
The kid sighed dramatically. "Just one slice of pizza?"
John shook his head, grinning smugly...
Fact was John had been telling the truth about the food. Meredith had pulled out all the stops, taken food from her own home to prepare this meal for his sons, but there was only enough for two growing boys. And so John, rather reluctantly as it happened, ended up with the pizza.
But he couldn't deny it. It sure tasted great.
John was snoozing on the sofa bed in the corner of the room, an empty pizza box lying on the floor beside him. One last slice of pizza remained, grease congealing in large globules around the pepperoni, the cheese cold and stringy.
A disembodied hand appeared from round the back of the sofa, and if it's possible for body parts to think, then its' thought patterns might have been running along the following lines:
Hmm. Pizza. One slice left. Owner appears to be asleep.
Chances of a safe recovery without the owner waking up.
Hmm. Chances of a safe recovery and successfully lying to the owner without getting finger tips chopped off.
Chances of a safe recovery and successfully lying to the owner that a mischievous squirrel had leapt inside the bathroom window and made off with the prize.
A big fat ZERO.
The hand didn't seem to care all that much after all, however, because in the next instant, the single, solitary slice of pizza was gone.
Dean sat on Sam's bed, both boys munching quietly on what appeared to be half a slice of greasy pepperoni pizza with cold stringy cheese, and watching an old episode of Red Dwarf. Dave Lister, space bum extraordinaire, was busy extolling the virtues of Wilma Flintstone to his shipmate The Cat.
Lister: D'ya think Wilma's sexy?
Cat: Wilma Flintstone?
Lister: Maybe we've been alone in deep space too long, but every time I see that body, it drives me crazy. Is it me?
Cat: Well, I think in all probability, Wilma Flintstone is the most desirable woman that ever lived.
Lister: That's good. I thought I was going strange.
Cat: She's incredible!
Lister: What d'ya think of Betty?
Cat: Betty Rubble? Well, I would go with Betty... but I'd be thinking of Wilma.
Lister: This is crazy. Why are we talking about going to bed with Wilma Flintstone?
Cat: You're right. We're nuts. This is an insane conversation.
(A pause of about a heartbeat and...)
Lister: She'll never leave Fred, and we know it.
Dean snorted and Sam smiled, carefully. His surnburn was still making him miserable, especially as laughing was out of the question, so smiling was his only option.
That sure sounded familiar.
The brothers had taken quite a shine to the British science fiction sitcom a few years back when Dean was sick with flu. Stumbling on the channel by pure chance, Sam and Dean were hooked right from the get go. They found the strange accent of Dave Lister a little hard to understand at first, but soon got the hang of it, and spent the entire weekend watching every single episode.
When Dean had taken to calling his little brother 'Rimmer' or 'Smeghead', a reference to Sam's shared trait of anal retentiveness with the ship's hologram, Arnold Rimmer, an all out prank war began, and ended with Dean tampering with Sam's shampoo. Then Sam was simply 'baldy' for a few months until his hair grew back.
"Hey Sam?" Dean didn't look away from the TV.
"Yeah?" Raising an eyebrow, Sam wondered at the sudden seriousness, and it worried him.
"I've always had thing for Rogue."
Sam blinked in relief, then turned to study his brother, wincing again when the movement stretched his sunburned skin.
"Rogue? As in..." he made a 'roll on' gesture with his hand.
Dean shrugged. "As in Rogue from the X Men."
Gently licking his lips, Sam thought that through and hid a smile. "You do know you wouldn't be able to, uh, touch her or... uh... anything? I mean, you'd never even get as far as first base without being fried like a potato chip."
Dean sighed, a big stupid grin on his face. "Yeah, but man, what a way to go."
Sam snorted. "Yeah right. Your downstairs brain'll explode!"
"Dude! Please!" Dean grimaced then indicated his nether regions with a hand wave. "A little sensitivity here, ok? Not-so-little Dean has feelings too ya know..."
"Oh God!" Sam rolled his eyes in despair. "You named your..."A small shake of the head. "You're unbelievable."
"I never fly in the face of public opinion," came Dean's smug reply.
"No, but you'll be flying through that damn wall," John Winchester's gruff voice made the boys glance over to find their father watching them, one eye open and glinting evilly, "if I find out you've been feeding your sick brother pizza!"
Sam smiled again, and snuggled down against his pillows a little more.
"Its fine, Dad. I don't feel sick or anything and I only had a half slice."
John frowned, but winked discreetly at Sam.
"I think it's time Dean went on a diet, anyhow."
"What?!" Dean sat up like an angry merekat. "Oh hell no. Dean Winchester does not do the D word. Ever!"
"Yep, 'fraid so," John nodded, sadly. "It's grated carrot and lettuce from now on, Dean. Don't want you getting flabby!"
"Flabby?!" Dean shrieked loud enough to earn a thumping through the wall from the neighbours, accompanied by a deep "Hey! Shut your bitch up! People are trying to sleep!"
"Oh my God!" Sam couldn't breathe for laughing. Ignoring the pain, he was soon rolling around on the bed, clutching at his sides. "I can't believe that guy just called you a bitch!"
Dean glowered at his laughing family, turned up the volume on the TV, crossed his arms and sulked.
When Sam's phone showed up at the motel, courtesy of Jimmy, the Winchester family headed north. Sam was still a little shaky from the heat stroke and needed somewhere safe to recover.
It was during a stop for gas John began really pondering their destination, and then Sam gave him an idea.
Sam shifted in the front passenger seat, the upholstery sticking to his body in spite of the wide open windows. Though the ambient temperature was slowly dropping it was still uncomfortably warm and muggy. But he was kind of relieved that his brother hadn't mentioned the flakes of skin littering the car's interior. His face, arms and neck were finally shedding the damaged tissue, gradually revealing a smooth, fresh complexion.
"Damn, what wouldn't I give for a cool breeze… or any breeze at all would be nice… may be some snow," Sam gratefully accepted a fresh ice pack from Dean. "Thanks dude."
"Snow? Forgotten what the stuff looks like." Dean sighed, closing the cooler lid. "We could build snowmen, have a snowball fight, make snow angels, I could shove some snow down your neck for ya... ya know, just to keep you from getting too warm." He was grinning just a little too widely for Sam's liking.
"How 'bout So Little Dean gets some snow-time too, huh?" Sam retorted with a scowl and immediately regretted the pull on his sun kissed face.
"Your hand gets anywhere near GI Winchester, it'll be the last thing you ever do!" Dean replied, eyeing his brother with disgust.
Sam shuddered. "Yeah, 'cause that's something I fantasize about," he drawled, sarcastically. "And, dude! Quit naming your body parts; it's freaking me out!"
"That's right," Dean nodded, all big brother smugness on show, "just keep up the attitude and you'll be sleeping outside on a park bench..."
"Boys!" John's stern voice finally caught their attention, though neither of them missed the slight hitch of amusement. "When you two girls have finally quit bitching, you mind telling me what you think of spending some time up at Uncle Bobby's cabin?" He peered in the driver's window at his sons, one eyebrow raised.
Dean turned in his seat to look at his brother. Some kind of silent communication was going on. In the past, John had felt a little envious of the strong bond between his sons, almost like a form of telepathy, but now he was just pleased they were back in sync. For a while there, John had wondered if his recent foolishness might have damaged their connection beyond repair.
"What d'ya say Sammy?" Dean smiled hopefully at his little brother. "There'll be snow up there."
Sam's eyes were shining with the possibilities.
"A chance to get out of the heat?" he grinned back. "I'll take it!"
John, who was still leaning in through Dean's window, pulled out, gently thumped the roof and strode over to his truck.
"Saddle up!" he called out, a big smirk on his face, followed by "Forward ho!"
The Winchesters set out on a quest for some proper R&R.
And this time, Sam was included.
See disclaimer at the end of chapter 2 re: medical facts.
Cheers for all your wonderful reviews, my darlings.
Many, many thanks again to Phx and Sendintheclowns for whipping this little fic into shape.
Any further mistakes are mine.