Winchester Rules

by Visionairy

Sam may be young, but he's beginning to realize that both Dean and his dad are keeping something from him. And if that's the case, a sick Sam decides, it can go both ways.

A/N: This story is dedicated to KKBelvis and based on a line from her story, A Spot to Remember – "And what about the tiny white spots decorating the back of Sam's throat, that time the kid got tonsillitis and had to have them removed. " Thanks, Karen, for your friendship, encouragement and all your wonderful stories!

Kicking his blanket off, Sam flipped his pillow over trying to find a cool dry spot. It was impossible to sleep in the overheated room, and he could still hear his brother and father talking quietly in the next room. For the tenth time that hour, he wondered what they were talking about.

1:24 AM … Dean said he was staying up to work on homework, and to go over with Dad. Sam may only be eight, but he wasn't stupid. Never having seen his dad actually look at Dean's school work, despite all the times Dad and Dean had to huddle to go over it, Sam wasn't buying it anymore.

Sam flipped over again, trying to find a comfortable spot on the uneven mattress. No matter where he moved, his sheets were damp with sweat. His right ear was still hurting, and his throat was really sore. This was the fifth time in the past year that he'd ended up like this - each time being dragged to the doctor with a sore throat and ear ache. Dad wasn't one to fuss over him if he was sick, but he had Dean keep a closer eye on him and make sure he took his medicine.

Sitting up in bed, he scooted over closer to the wall to see if he could hear anything, but all he could make out were their deep voices. Dean's voice had dropped over the last year, and now he could sound positively threatening when he wanted.

Sam couldn't wait till his voice lost it's higher tone, so he could sound more like them, and Dean would stop calling him Daphne. Trying to force down the urge to cough, Sam was reminded how badly his throat was burning. He really needed a glass of water. He looked around the room, but there was nothing available. Since there wasn't a cup in the bathroom either, they really couldn't blame him for going out there to get it.

Sliding over the side of the bed, Sam tried to find the one board bordering his bed that didn't creak. If he was more suspicious, he'd think they'd arranged that on purpose. If he were less determined, it would have stopped him.

Slowly he eased himself off the far end of the bed and stepped two boards over and then followed that board till he reached the wall where the boards were tightest. Hugging the wall, he circled the room until a long stretch to the fifth plank over took him in front of the door.

A little WD-40 on the door would have made his venture complete, but despite the fact that the Impala was oiled to perfection, every hinge between Sam and the kitchen in this small house screamed like an old tom cat. Slowly Sam eased the door open, hoping that the noise would not be heard down the hall.

Just as Sam had the door open far enough to squeeze through, the door suddenly swung wide open. Dean was smirking down at him. "What cha' doing up, squirt?"

Sam took a couple of steps back not caring if the boards squeaked now.
"I was getting some water," Sam glared at his brother, "And who can sleep with all the 'homework' you and Dad are working on."

Dean ruffled his brother's hair and moved into the room. "Yep, but it's all done now." Walking to the opposite side of the room, Dean threw his old army surplus backpack on his bed, then grabbed a towel and headed back for the door – no boards squeaking along the way. "I'll get your water, Squirt, but get back into bed. Cause you know, of the two of us, you definitely need more beauty sleep." Dean messed up his hair more as he passed, and shuddered, "Scary."

Sam tried to decide whether he'd use the water to sooth his throat, or just to pour over his brother's head.

As soon as Dean left the room, Sam checked out the zipper tabs on Dean's backpack. Sure enough, they were in the exact same position as Sam had set them when they'd come home from school. No way that would've happened by accident. So, just as Sam had suspected, the late night hushed voices hadn't been discussing homework. Dad, maybe, but why was Dean keeping secrets from him too?

Dean suddenly appeared back in the room, handing him the water and grabbing his toothbrush from the dresser. "Dude, what's with your obsession with my backpack?

Sam just shrugged his shoulders and headed back to his bed, floor squeaking all the way.

Dean paused for a minute, and Sam felt his brother's gaze traveling over him, "Hey, short stuff – maybe I can get another camo bag next time we hit the surplus store. If so, you can have mine."

A grunt was all the response he got for his effort.

Sam crawled back into bed and tried to get comfortable. If he faced the wall, he laid on the ear that was hurting, which just made it that much worse. But if he laid on his back, he ended up with drainage all down the back of his extremely raw throat. He wasn't about to turn to face Dean and have him think he wanted to talk. He kicked at his sheets and then stilled. If he showed he was hot, Dean would be all over him.

A month or two ago, he would have told Dean that he felt like crap, and Dean would have taken care of him - brought him some Tylenol and a throat lozenge. Dean had even made Dad take him to the doctor the last few times he'd felt this bad – making a big deal about it and all. Not this time, Sam decided. He didn't even know what they'd been talking about, but they had been keeping things from him, and that was enough for Sam to want to keep things from them, too.

Dean finished his nighttime routine and crawled into bed, snapping the light off along the way. "G'night Sammy," Dean offered. But Sam pretended he was already asleep.

By the time Sam got up, courtesy of Dean's grazing him with his unused backpack, he realized he was already running twenty minutes late. "Morning, Rip. Ya' got ten whole minutes to be ready for school now. And you know Dad's not going to wait for you."

"Me?" Sam choked on the word and swallowed. If anything, his throat was worse.

Fortunately, Dean had already turned to grab his jacket. "Dad's got a job next state over. It's just you and me runt, for the next four days. But if you get it in gear, he'll drop us off at school on the way."

Great, they were being left alone again. Ever since Dean had turned 10, Dad had been leaving them alone more and more as he took jobs out of town. And Sam was old enough to know that other dad's didn't do this – at least not leaving their kids alone. But he knew the 'Winchester Rules', foremost of which was – 'We do what we do, and we shut up about it.'

They always had to pretend Dad was home even when he wasn't. Don't make a scene, don't get into trouble, don't bring any attention on yourself. All so nobody would find out that they spent a lot of time on their own now.

He didn't understand why, but both Dad and Dean said that their Dad's work was really important and this was the only way it could be done. So Sam had learned to accept that Dad did what he did, and Sam shut up about it.

Pushing himself slowly off the bed, Sam was frustrated that he wouldn't be able to take a shower, his sweat-damped pajamas sticking uncomfortably to his chest and legs. And now he'd just have to run some water over his chest and face, get dressed and head out. He felt exhausted, and his throat and ear had decided to ratchet it up a notch overnight. Sam looked around, but couldn't find any Tylenol and wasn't about to ask.

Before he could look further, Dean came back in, grabbed his bookbag and headed for the door. "Five minutes, squirt. I'll grab you a muffin and some juice for the road. Just," and he waited for Sam to look at him, "…don't make Dad wait."

Sam grunted his agreement, and turned before Dean could see the pain register on his face.

One of the advantages to being the new kid was that it made it fairly easy to get through the day without having to talk to anyone. Lunch was the only exception. He'd recently met another kid who was a bit of a loner. Nick was a quiet kid – crazy smart, but with minimal self-confidence, and a border-line hypchondriac. His lack of social skills, as far as Sam was concerned, were more than offset by the unusual stories he could come up with or obscure trivia he knew.

Sam enjoyed the conversations they'd have. Today, though, Sam wasn't up for any talk. Still feeling hot and exhausted, with his ear and throat killing him, he could barely keep his head up. He was trying to swallow down some yogurt when Nick nudged him, "Not feeling good?"

Sam glanced across the table, "I'm good," and took another cautious spoonful of yogurt.

"Oh yeah," Nick laughed incredulously, "You sound good. Yogurt, juice, and the way you're swallowing …I'd say you had a wicked ass sore throat."

A half-smile curled up the corner of Sam's mouth, but he just shook his head.

"And the way you're holding your ear while you're sitting there …."

Sam dropped his arm and sat up straighter.

"…it's driving you crazy too, huh?"

Sam shrugged his shoulders. "I'm fine," he managed, struggling not to wince as he said it.

"Uh huh." Nick sat staring at Sam thoughtfully as Sam tried to look as healthy as he could.

"Your hair's sticking to your forehead …," Nick continued on as if he were already the doctor he planned to be, "… so that means you have a fever." Sam grimaced and rolled his eyes at his friend.

Suddenly Nick's hand shot out towards Sam's throat. Without even thinking, Sam knocked it away - hard.

Nick grabbed his wrist and glared at his companion. "That really hurt." He rolled his wrist a couple of times. "I guess it's not broken. Sprained maybe." He touched it again experimentally, and Sam just shrugged a half-hearted apology.

"What were..?" Sam croaked.

"I just wanted to know if the glands in your throat were swollen."

Sam scowled.

"Well, it matters. How many times have you had this in the past couple of years?"

Sam thought back. Yes, he guessed he'd had it a few times. Each time, Dean was getting more annoying in taking care of it. They'd actually been to the doctor for those – not a common experience in the Winchester household. So Sam showed three, then four .. shrugged and showed five fingers.

"Yep, that's what I thought." Nick looked very self-satisfied. "Guess you'll be going to the hospital soon."

Sam looked up, alarmed, and almost choked on his yogurt. He raised both eyebrows at the other boy.

"Yep. You have tonsillitis. Same thing happened to both my brother and me. A few ear aches, a few sore throats, and next thing you know, they have to remove your tonsils – well adenoids usually – and sometimes your tonsils too."

Tonsillitis. Sam had heard the doc mention that at some point last time his throat hurt. He sure as hell hadn't told him that he'd have to go to a hospital and get his tonsils out! Sam stared over at Nick, who was happily digging into his hamburger now that he'd solved Sam's issue.

Sam kicked him under the table, rolling his outstretched hand for more information.

"Well, actually, I had to get both my adenoids and my tonsils out, while my brother only had to get his adenoids out. Not much difference, though mine hurt a lot more and longer." Nick swallowed again as if to determine if he might have caught it again. Then he smiled to himself, "But hey, I got to stay home from school for a week, and Mom let me lay on the couch and watch TV all day, and she brought me milkshakes and ice cream whenever I wanted it. All my aunts and uncles and cousins stopped by and brought me gifts. Other than the operation, it was pretty cool!"

An operation – in a hospital? Outside of 'We do what we do and we shut up about it', Sam had learned recently that one of the other hard and fast Winchester Rules was apparently 'Thou shalt not go to a hospital'.

Earlier that year, their dad had come home bleeding and semi-conscious from one of his jobs. Dean didn't think he knew about it since Sam had been asleep earlier, but when Sam heard the noises and snuck down the hallway to see what was going on, he had seen how badly his dad was hurt. Dean was so busy helping their dad he hadn't noticed Sam watching terrified from the hallway.

Dean unwrapped three long deep slices on their Dad's leg, and was practically begging to let him take him to the hospital, but all Dad kept saying was, "No hospital, Dean – you know that." He made Dean sew him up himself. Sam watched until he couldn't take it anymore and he weaved back to the bathroom to throw up.

Since then Sam had realized that no matter how badly Dad got injured on his jobs, and no matter how much medical help his brother had to provide, a hospital had not been an option.

"Hey," Nick poked Sam's arm, "you should go see the school nurse. She'll call your mom and she can come get you and take care of you."

Sam looked quickly back up at Nick. "No,' he emphatically whispered, "I'm fine. Really."

"Sure you are Sam," Nick shook his head fondly at his misguided friend, "Don't worry, once it's over, I'll get you a card too."

So, what do you think? Any comments would be truly appreciated.