DOWN TIME

The boys are recovering from 'flu and they both need some serious down time; Dean's determined to make the most of it.

For your delectation, I bring you suffering, sweat, sneezing, snot and bags of sympathy. This one is for one of my lovely readers and reviewers, MasonDixon ...

Disclaimer: Don't own, want but can't have. Such is life :(

Chapter 1

xxxxx

November is grey; November is miserable; November is heavy, damp and bone-chillingly cold.

The Winchester brothers had more reason than most to hate the month of November, but right now, sitting in a grotty cut-price motel room staring through a grime-frosted window at the freezing rain falling from charcoal grey skies, Sam had to admit it … notwithstanding the Winchesters' tragic past; November sucked ass.

xxxxx

Sam sat at a shabby wobbly-legged table and kneaded his forehead, closing his eyes as he felt his throbbing head begin to droop. The residue of a vicious 'flu bug that had assaulted his system over recent days was still loitering, leaving his whole body weakened and generally feeling like it had been put through a wringer.

He had felt increasingly crappy for a few days and remembered having a vague notion that he might be coming down with something, then … POW! The damn thing hit him like a freight train. Before he knew what was happening, he was a shivering, sneezing, feverish wreck; sleeping for hours on end, and then in times he was awake, feeling so utterly crap, he was inclined to wish he was still asleep.

Throughout it all, Dean had been there. A supportive, caring presence; quietly, without question or hesitation, doing what needed to be done. Remaining close at hand without hovering; nursing and nurturing his suffering brother without fuss or ceremony and all the while managing the job with the calm reassurance of an old hand and without turning it into a chick-flick.

However, nature had eventually taken its course and Sam was now slowly recovering. Unfortunately, the flip side of that turn of events was that the bastard bug had latched onto Dean with a vengeance and suddenly Sam found himself in the role of caregiver to a desperately sick brother.

He had been taking care of his sick and un-cooperative brother as best he could for a couple of days now, and as much as he wanted so much to return the devoted care he had received from the wheezing lump under the threadbare mustard-coloured comforter, physically he simply wasn't up to the job.

His aching limbs were turning every lethargic movement into a trial; every step felt like he was wading through cement, and if he didn't close his eyes soon …

xxxxx

His eyes snapped open to the sound of violent coughing. He glanced up at the clock, blinking to clear his vision, and realised an hour had passed since he closed his eyes.

Shifting upright from his uncomfortably slumped position, he groaned as his spine creaked and crackled in protest at having to move, and leaned heavily on the table to heave his useless diseased carcass into a standing position.

Stumbling stiff-legged across the room, he sat on the bed next to Dean, and placed a warm hand flat on his brother's convulsing back, gently rubbing to soothe the painful barking coughs that were racking Dean's hunched, fever-stricken body.

The coughing fit gradually subsided and Dean looked up at his brother through watery, bloodshot eyes, wiping his wet nose along his wrist.

"Water, bro?" Sam offered a glass, which Dean took shakily.

"Feel li' shit," he croaked, his voice barely a whisper as he lifted the glass to sore, chapped lips.

"You look it too," Sam smiled, still rubbing his brother's back through his sweat dampened T shirt.

"Your stupid fault," Dean croaked again, panting as his strained lungs struggled for breath, "caught this pile o crap off you."

"Quit moanin', and save your energy for getting better;" Sam took the water out of Dean's hand, placing it back on the nightstand and gently eased him back down into the bed. "you need to rest dude," he murmured.

Dean gave a long wet snuffle; "hate the 'flu." He turned onto his side and burrowed down into the sagging mattress, allowing Sam to pull the comforter up over him. Sam patted his shoulder; "get some sleep dude."

Shifting slightly, Dean let out a barely audible, rattling sigh and Sam realised that was it; his brother had drifted off into a much-needed healing sleep. He was on his own again.

Trudging back across the room, he poured himself a coffee and headed over to the window to sit once again at the little table.

He shivered.

The fact was, the damn room wasn't helping. The feeble heating only just managed to take the bite out of the damp chill which permeated it's depressing, mouldy space, and this just wasn't benefiting either of them in their slow recovery.

He examined his options. They could stay put in this damp, cold, craphole of a room; they could move on and try to find somewhere else more conducive to recovering from illness that didn't max out their one remaining credit card or they could go somewhere where they knew they would find a warm welcome, a helping hand and could stay as long as they needed.

xxxxx

Sam smiled as the phone picked up the other end.

"Sam," there was a smile in the familiar, gruff voice; "how ya doin' boy?"

"Not so good, Bobby," Sam replied, the hoarseness in his voice reinforcing his words, "we've both had the damn flu."

"Ah damnit, that's bad luck;" came the reply.

"Yeah, I'm just about getting' over it, but Dean's still in a real bad way; it's gone straight to his chest as usual."

"Ah, crap!"

Sam smiled, "that about sums it up."

"Look Bobby," he sighed; "I was thinkin'…"

He heard a chuckle on the end of the phone that suggested Bobby knew exactly what he was thinking.

"Yeah?"

"I was wonderin' if we could stay at your place for a few days," he asked.

There was a pause; "Sam, you know you're always welcome, both of you; it's just, the thing is…" Bobby began.

"Just until we get over this bug," pleaded Sam; "Bobby, Dean's real bad and this damn room's as damp as a troll's ass;" he sighed, " he'll end up with pneumonia if we stay here."

There was a long intake of breath on the other end of the phone; "what I was about to say, Sam, was that ya know ya both always welcome at my place any time ya like, ya don't have to ask." He paused before continuing, "the only thing is, I ain't there at the moment."

Sam wilted as he saw his plan of a friendly pair of hands helping him with Dean's care vanish before his eyes.

"I'm in Vermont, workin' a werewolf case," Bobby continued apologetically, "won't be comin' back until after the full moon next week."

"Thanks Bobby," Sam tried not to let his disappointment colour his voice; "that's okay, appreciate you letting us stay, anyway."

"I ain't there but my niece, Diana, is stayin' at my place while I'm away," Bobby stated.

"Sam's ears pricked up; "niece?"

"Yeah," Bobby replied, "she's a nursin' student an' she's on a sabbatical studying for her next round of exams at the moment, so she offered to come over and look after Rumsfeldt for me for a few days while I was away."

"Niece?" Sam repeated, still not quite recovering from the bombshell that Bobby had such a relative.

"Yeah, niece," Bobby confirmed with an exasperated sigh, "jeez boy, ya gone deaf?"

"You never mentioned her before," Sam observed.

"I don't talk about her or introduce her to the huntin' fraternity, I wanna keep her safe, an' well away from all that sort of crap." Bobby answered, "as far as she's concerned, I'm a freelance lecturer in metaphysics and folkloristics, and that's why I've got a house full of weirdo books and I travel a lot."

Nodding down the phone, Sam could see the sense in that logic.

"But, I reckon there ain't no secrets between me an' you boys now," Bobby added; "so you may as well meet her."

"Well, if you're sure she won't mind us descending on her;" Sam smiled, "I think it'll be better for Dean."

Bobby laughed, "I'm sure she'll enjoy the company, an' appreciate havin' a sick patient to practice on!"

"I'm sure the sick patient'll appreciate it too," Sam grinned.

"Oh, an' by the way," Bobby added before hanging up, "she's twenty one and pretty, an' if I find your brother has tried to have his wicked way with her, I'm gonna go after him with my bolt cutters."

Sam cringed at the thought of Dean singing castrato for the rest of his life.

Putting his phone down, Sam turned to the look at the unmoving lump that was his brother.

xxxxx

A pretty, twenty one year old trainee nurse and a sick brother; Sam began to seriously question the wisdom of his decision.

xxxxx

tbc