Fear Itself

Disclaimer: Not mine.

Beta'd: By Muffy Morrigan. Thanks, chica!

Time Line: Anytime prior to season 4

This was a challenge fic with Phx using the word Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. Please check out her story!

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He was bored. Technically, he'd passed bored about two days and a box of Kleenex ago. There was no way he'd admit this to a soul, least of all his little brother, but Dean Winchester, demon hunter extraordinaire, had been defeated by the flu. Okay, he wasn't really hiding it all that well, but he wasn't copping to it either.

Sam had hovered the first few days, bringing soup, tea, and old monster movies on DVD to play on the laptop. By the fourth day Dean had been well enough he didn't feel like death on toast, but not quite up to death half-warmed over. He was, however, entirely done with Sam playing mother hen.

It wasn't what it sounded like. Sam had been awesome but after four days even his, 'lose himself in research for hours brother' had cabin fever. Dean had secretly enjoyed the small gestures while he'd been miserable. He never had to ask for anything, Sam just had it there waiting. The wastebasket handy, the decongestant, tissues, and always, something to drink just within arm's reach.

When the nurse routine had hit an all-time high coupled with the fact Dean truly was feeling quite a bit better, he couldn't stand to see Sam working himself into a fever-pitch of obsession. Organizing and cleaning had taken on a whole new meaning and quite frankly, it was unnerving to watch a six-foot-four man Swiffer dust a motel ceiling fan with mother-to-be nesting frenzy.

So, he'd sent Sam out.

"Look, man, I appreciate it, I really do, but you need out." Dean sneezed and groaned. His back ached from all the coughing. "There's only so much time you can spend cooped up in this room before you go crazy."

"Dean, I'm fine," Sam argued, his forehead curling with concern and, if Dean wasn't too sick to read his brother correctly, hurt feelings. "You're the one who's sick."

"Was sick," Dean corrected. Then, as if to prove himself wrong, he coughed until he could barely catch his breath.

"Really?" Sam raised an eyebrow, quirking it in Dean's direction, "and that was what exactly?"

"Encore performance." Dean smirked, running his tongue over fuzzy teeth. Maybe he could actually muster the ambition to brush this afternoon. "Just get out for a few hours, Sam. Take a walk, go to the library, or the diner down the road with one of those Tom Clancy books you like. I don't really care, just spend some time away from here, before you drive us both crazy."

And that look he'd wondered if he had read correctly? It was back in full force. Dean felt like he'd kicked Sam's puppy between the furrowed brow and sad eyes. God, how had their Dad ever resisted? John Winchester was a stronger man than he.

"Sorry," Sam said. "We do need a laundry run." He stood, picking up the duffel he'd packed their dirty clothes into with military precision. "Should only take a couple hours."

"Sam," Dean said, waiting for his brother to make eye contact. When it didn't happen, he tried again, louder. "Sam!"

Sam stopped, looking up. "What?"

"I don't need a break from you," Dean explained. "You need a break." He held up a hand when Sam opened his mouth to interrupt, "From this room."

Sam ran a hand through his bangs and sighed. "Yeah, maybe."

"No maybe," Dean said, "besides, I'm just going to sleep."

He could see the wheels in Sam's mind turning as he thought back to the last time he'd been sick and said those words to Dean. Realization slowly dawned on his face. "You can't use my own arguments against me."

"Yes, I can." Dean crossed his arms behind his head donning a self-satisfied smirk. He picked up the remote, flipping it into the air and catching it while he talked. "It's practically my birth right."

"Whatever," Sam huffed, but he smiled wide. "I'll be back in a couple hours, call if you need anything." Dean raised an eyebrow and started to speak when Sam interrupted. "Besides food."

Dean shot his brother a dirty look and settled back against the pillows. "Then I'm good."

Sam nodded knowingly and waved a hand at Dean. "Two hours."

"Go!"

Sam chuckled as he walked out the door. Dean turned on the television, idly flipping through the channels until he found something that looked vaguely interesting and settled back. Daytime programming was sketchy at best, but it was better than nothing. It seemed to be about a detective and a hot scientist, a very hot scientist.

He was barely watching, drifting close to the edges of sleep, when the detective shot a clown ice cream truck topper with his gun. Dean chuckled, thinking fondly of his brother. He wondered if Sam had ever been tempted to shoot a clown.

"…Coulrophobia…" the hot scientist said in the middle of her tirade. She might look like a supermodel, but she sounded like a geek. Speaking of geeks, she had given him an idea.

Dean looked around for the laptop and found it sitting on the table, of course, just where it should be if it wasn't tucked dutifully into the messenger bag. He pried himself out of bed, heading for the table when the idea of a shower and shave overrode his desire to tease Sam. He had close to two hours until his brother would be back, Dean had time.

He started a fresh pot of coffee brewing before jumping into the shower. The water felt as good as Dean thought it would and he stayed in longer than he intended just enjoying the spray. After a quick shave, he ran a toothbrush quickly over his teeth before settling down in front of the computer, fresh cup of coffee in hand. He felt human for the first time in days.

It didn't take long to verify coulrophobia was a fear of clowns. In fact, it seemed his brother was hardly an anomaly when it came to the grease-painted ones. Now, Sam's fear of midgets was harder to find or pronounce, but he took several minutes to commit it to memory.

The doorknob rattled, the only warning he received before Sam entered the room. Of course his brother had walked instead of taking the Impala, leaving the car for Dean. However, it had denied Dean the advance warning of the throaty engine. He started guiltily and Sam raised an eyebrow, his mouth curling in an amused grin. "Busty Asian Beauties?"

"No." Dean groaned inwardly. Not that what he'd been doing was any less embarrassing. "I was looking up coulrophobia."

The amused grin fell off Sam's face as he tossed the laundry duffel on his bed. "Why?" he asked casually, steadfastly refusing to look in Dean's direction.

"Guy on TV shot a clown decoration."

Sam snorted, laughing lightly as he came to sit at the table. "I can understand that. Of course, it's no worse than aviophobia which is probably more related to claustrophobia and loss of control than flying, you know." Sam eyeballed Dean's coffee and then stood up to get himself a cup, refilling his at the same time.

"I don't have control issues," Dean protested, barely able to contain a grin at Sam's snort of disbelief. "Now, achondroplasiaphobia is what? Fear of growing so tall the world is full of midgets?"

"It's no worse than murophobia," Sam said, talking into his coffee as he took a sip.

"Hey, millions of people died from the plague. Rats are nasty, Sam."

"Uh-huh." Sam leaned back in his chair, long legs stretching out into the limited available space of the small room.

"We're both better off than this lady," Dean said, turning the computer so Sam could see the screen. "She has bambakophobia – a fear of cotton balls."

Sam quirked an eyebrow. "Now, you're just making crap up."

"No, I'm not. Check it out."

Five minutes later they were both laughing as the clip rolled to a stop. "Okay, I take it back." Sam sucked in a deep breath in an obvious attempt to regain his composure. "You're not full of crap."

Dean narrowed his eyes, spinning the lap top back around in his direction. "You never said I was full of crap."

"I didn't?" Sam asked, his expression the picture of innocence.

"I'm pretty sure - no."

"Huh."

Dean continued his phobia search as Sam grew contemplative over his coffee cup. The companionable silence was nice, comfortable, a welcome respite in their often hectic lives. He lifted his eyes from the screen long enough to see Sam's thousand yard stare and smiled fondly. His family may be small, and weird, but it was his and Dean wouldn't change it for anything.

He was just about to power down when one more phobia caught his attention and he laughed.

"What?" Sam asked, snapping back to awareness in an instant.

"Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia," Dean said, pronouncing it slowly and carefully.

Sam mulled it over for a moment. "Fear of the number six-six-six?"

"Yeah," Dean laughed, "can you imagine?"

Sam shook his head. "It's incredible what people are scared of when they ignore so much of the stuff out there that they should fear."

"Says the clown boy," Dean said, chalking it up to a win when Sam scowled. "You wanna get out of here for awhile?"

"I already paid for tonight," Sam said, shaking his head. "You could use one more night of downtime anyway."

"So, let's go to a movie," Dean shrugged.

"Really?" Sam asked with enthusiasm and a hopeful look.

"Yeah," Dean said, wondering why they didn't take more time out for normal. "Let's go."

Minutes later they were headed out the door. "Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia," Dean laughed again. "Like any of that apocalyptic stuff is real anyway." Sam gave him an odd look, but fell into step beside him as they headed for the Impala.

Dean wouldn't change his family for anything.

……….…………………………………………………..Supernatural………………………………………………………

AN: So, in all fairness to Sam and Dean, I have a fear of heights and spiders, my son bridges and yes, clowns, and my husband? Well, he's afraid of cotton balls. He suffered through a migraine one day until I came home from work and he tossed the bottle of painkillers at me.

"Please," he begged.

I opened the bottle to find he'd poked his finger through the foil seal only to hit the wad of packing cotton inside. I laughed as I pulled out the cotton and handed him the bottle back. Of course, then I promptly rubbed my fingers on the cotton, squeaking it right by his ear.

My husband knows some colorful swear words. LOL!

Thanks to all who read!