The Care and Feeding of a Sick Puppy

By PlatinumRoseLady and Kadysn

A/N: I read another fanfic the other day that featured a sick Sam, and it made me want to write one of my own, since I've already written a sick Dean earlier. Equal opportunity Winchester whompage, I say! But, since it's me and PRL here, I knew it'd end up full of schmoop too. As usual, this is set in the Daddy!fic/curtain!fic verse PRL and I write. I hope all those of you who follow what we come up with enjoy it, and feel free to leave reviews for us. *hugs*

You don't have to have read "Bugs and the Happy Box" to understand this, but it helps.

Summary: Sam is sick with a cold and feels like crap. It sounds like it's time for the kids to put together another Happy Box!

Words: 7173

It had been a rough few days, and Sam was tired and feeling worn out. It was getting close to the end of the school year and the kids in his class were antsy and, occasionally, fractious enough they didn't want to mind.

At home, Rose was busy with their kids and because of that, she was a little short-tempered. It rubbed off on Sam.

On top of all that, damn it, he felt like he was coming down with a cold. His nose had begun to run that morning when he went jogging, but by the time he got home, he was sneezing. His energy level was flagging, and if he had his druthers, he'd call in sick and stay at home, but he didn't plan on doing that.

Rose found him in the kitchen, standing by the sink, a steaming mug of coffee in his hands. One look at him and she knew what was wrong. She crossed the room to stand in front of him, and reaching up, felt his forehead. "Oh,'re sick, aren't you?"

Sam shook his head, trying to play it off that he was fine. "Nope, I'm j-just a little winded from running. I-I'll b-be f-fi-fi-achchoo! Ow, fuck!" Sam barked in pain and the hot coffee splashed all over his hand.

Rose quickly turned on the cold water and taking a firm hold of his wrist, washed away the hot liquid.

Sam allowed her to tend to him, even though it made him feel silly. He was a grown man, a husband and father, for crying out loud. When he tried to pull back his hand, Rose frowned up at him and kept her grip on him tight.

"Don't be a baby. Let me tend to this." Rose held his hand under the cold water a few more moments longer, then reached for a towel and dried him off. She studied the redness of his skin. "I think you'll live." She gazed into his eyes, and seeing how red they were getting, she could see his cold was going to be knocking him on his ass pretty quickly.

"Sit down. Let me get you some Tylenol, and I think there's some cold meds in the medicine cabinet." She glared at him. "Don't even think about going to work today. You don't want to take this to the kids."

"But, Rose..." Sam started to say.

She looked at him, really looked at him... and Sam felt his resolve weaken. She was giving him the "I'm not budging on this one" stare, and he knew from experience what that meant.

Just then they heard the sound of little feet walking down the stairs - the girls were awake, and Robin would be close behind.

He met Rose's defiant glare, and not having the energy to fight her, nodded. "I'll go call in."

By the time he'd finished his call and returned to the kitchen, Rose had the kids seated at the table and was handing out bowls for their cereal.

Julia looked up at Sam with a smile. "Mornin', Daddy!"

His voice husky, Sam gave her a weak smile back. "Mornin', sweetheart. How're my dumplings today?" He wanted to go to each of them and give them their usual morning kisses, but he didn't dare.

Angel, normally not as intuitive as her twin, gave her father a steady look. "You're sick, Daddy, aren't you?"

Sam nodded. "Yeah. I'm sorry, baby. Daddy can't kiss you this morning. I don't want you kids to get sick too."

Jeni bit down on her bottom lip, and Rose could feel the fear radiating from her. She lightly patted the young girl on her head and said softly, "Daddy just has the start of a cold. He's going to go upstairs and hop right into bed so he can get some rest and feel all better." She gave Sam another firm look, but this time she tossed in a smile as well. "Right, Daddy?"

Sam nodded. "I'll head on up." He knew, by this point, based on how he was feeling, bed would be the best place for him. In just the two hours he'd been up, his symptoms were increasingly worse, and he was really beginning to feel like shit.

He caressed each child's hair as he passed behind them, and when he reached Rose, he kissed the top of her head. "Don't worry about me. I'll take some meds and get some sleep."

Rose watched him leave the room, then turned and looked at their babies. Four sets of worried eyes met her own.

Robin sat slumped in his chair, his brown eyes dark with worry. "Will Daddy be ok, Mama?"

Rose gently caressed her son's soft cheek, and gave him an encouraging smile. "He's going to be just fine. This cold won't keep him down for long, and do you know why?"

Robin smiled back. He knew the answer. "'Cause Daddy's a Winchester."

Angel chipped in with, "An' Winchesters are tough!"

Rose laughed and nodded, "That's right. Now eat up, guys. You've got to get ready for school..." The baby monitor in the kitchen crackled to life as the littlest Winchesters made themselves heard. Rose grinned, "Your brothers are in fine form this morning. Mommy's going to get them, so tuck in - and no food fights, if you bunnies don't mind."


By the time Sam crawled under the covers, he was chilling and shivering. His throat was sore, he was congested, his nose continued to drip like a faucet, and he ached. "Great," he muttered as he pulled the comforter to his chin. "That's all I need." He sighed and tried to remember the last time he'd been this ill. He realized it had been a few years. Angel and Julia had just been babies.

He was on the verge of sleep when he heard Rose creep into the room. He felt her sit on the edge of the bed, and sighed when he felt her cool hand cup his cheek. "F'ls good."

"What's that, honey?" Rose asked as she ran her hand over his damp, heated flesh.

"Y'r 'and," Sam mumbled.

Rose felt sorry for him. "You're running a bit of a fever. You're chilled, too, right?" She saw his body shiver under the quilts. When he nodded, she rose and went to the linen closet. "Let me get you more blankets."

Sam sighed as he felt the added weight of the covers as Rose smoothed them over him. "C'n I 'ave s'm water?"

"Sure, sweetheart, "Rose murmured, "just let me get these blankets around you and help you sit up."

"I don'," Sam began to speak, until a violent coughing attack shook his long frame. Rose helped him to sit up and gently rubbed a circle on his back, trying to help ease the spasm. She got him seated, and then quickly got up and filled a glass of water in their bathroom. She came back to the bed, and sat down beside him, holding the glass gently to his lips.

"Small sips; take small sips, Puppy," she cooed. "Don't want you to spit it back up."

As sore as his throat felt, the water still tasted good to him as Sam swallowed it down.

When Rose took the glass away, Sam lowered himself back to the mattress. "M' sorry."

"For what, honey? For getting sick? It's no wonder. You've been running yourself ragged lately." Rose felt guilty. She should have seen, as well as felt, this coming on, but she'd been so busy with the babies, she'd not paid attention to Sam's health.

All she got in response from him was an unintelligible murmur. She caressed his hair, leaned down to kiss his fevered brow then rose from the bed. At the doorway, she looked back at him a moment longer, then silently closed the door behind her.

She leaned on the door, and sighed, running her fingers through her hair. The twins were playing in their playpen in the living room - she could hear their happy babble as she walked downstairs.

AJ and Gabe looked up from their toys and happily babbled at Mommy. She walked over and checked each baby's diaper - both dry. She picked up AJ and then Gabe, giving each baby a nose kiss.

"Mommy's been a little neglectful of Daddy, you two. What should she do to make up for it?"

AJ cooed and Gabe babbled a stream of baby noise, for all the world sounding as if he was giving her advice. "Chicken soup, huh? You think Daddy'd like some home-made soup?" She gave each little boy a loud, smacking kiss. "What a great idea! Come on, you can watch Mommy make it so Daddy can have some when he wakes up."

Sam tossed and turned, trying to find the most comfortable way to sleep, but he just couldn't find it. Finally he just lay there staring at the ceiling and decided he was going to stay wide-awake...

... he wound up falling asleep five minutes later.

When he opened his eyes, Sam had no idea where he was, but it sure as hell wasn't his bedroom. He was fully dressed, standing in front of a large building painted a bright, garish green color, strung with twinkling lights. Above the doorway in bright pink letters were the words LAFF HOUSE.

Sam swallowed - the building looked harmless enough, but for some reason he felt like he shouldn't go in there…that something unpleasant was waiting for him inside the darkened doorway.

Sam took a step to back up... and suddenly found himself walking forward. Before he could stop himself he'd walked right into the building.

Inside it was dark, so dark that Sam was hard pressed to see his hand in front of his face. Suddenly, the lights came on and he found himself... staring at himself. He was standing in a room full of mirrors. Everywhere he looked there was another Sam looking back at him.

It took him a moment before he realized it wasn't just a room, but a maze; the mirrors split off and he could walk down a corridor, turning every now again to avoid bumping his face. It was a little weird, but not too upsetting.

At least, until the music started.

Suddenly, there was music everywhere - it wasn't so loud that it kept Sam from thinking, it was just there, and when Sam realized what it was his blood ran cold.

It was circus music.

"Oh, no..." Sam whispered, full of dread…because where there was a circus... there were clowns.

The voices came next: soft, teasing voices that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere. "Sammy, Sammy, come play, Sammy..."

Sam began to back up, a whimper building in his throat.

Reaching blindly behind him, he tried to find an exit all the while scanning the room, just seeing his panic-stricken face wherever he turned…

and still the voices taunted him: "We're gonna getcha, Sammy. We're coming and we're gonna getcha... Don't you wanna play with us, Sammy? All we want to do is make you laugh and laugh and LAUGH AND LAUGH..."

Sam, a tear slipping down his face, didn't feel like laughing. If anything, he felt like curling up in a ball and hiding. Where was Dean? Where was Rose? How the...

He reached behind again... touched something soft. Something that 'honked.'

Sam turned around... and saw that he was holding onto the big red nose of an enormously fat clown. The clown's painted lips pulled back, revealing a mouthful of white teeth.

"Gotcha!" The clown chortled.

The air was suddenly full of wild laughter and shattering glass, the mirrors breaking into nothingness as clown after clown stepped through them. All of them laughing, all of them reaching out white gloved hands for Sam.

He was too weak and (as much as he hated to admit it) too frightened to fight back. In a moment, the clowns had him pinned to the floor, holding his arms and legs, rendering him immobile.

The lead clown stood over him, his belly rolling as he chuckled. He shook his finger playfully at Sam and said, "You've been a very bad little boy, Sammy Winchester!"

"Wh-what?" Sam managed to stammer, even as he tried to get away.

The clown leaned down until he was face to face with Sam. "You've kept us locked away in here, locked away in the back parts of your mind for SUCH a long time, and we haven't been able to play with you! But now we're free..." He dragged one finger down Sam's face giving him a quick chin tickle. "And now we're going to play all we want!"

The clown's painted lips turned downwards in the mockery of a frown. "But like I said, you've been bad. And what happens to bad little boys, fellas?"

The other clowns began to laugh again and said one word: "Spanking!"

The head clown nodded gleefully. "Thaaaaaat's RIGHT! Bad little boys get a spanking..." From the pocket of his baggy pants, the clown pulled out a HUGE paddle - it looked more like the oar for a canoe. Sam's eyes became HUGE and before he knew it the clowns had picked him up and had him face down on the ground.

"Trust me, Sammy, this is going to hurt YOU a lot more than it's going to hurt ME!" the clown cackled, raising the paddle to begin the beating.

Sam squeezed his eyes shut, waiting for the rain of blows to start... when the air was suddenly torn by the roar of some furious, gigantic beast. Sam's head was violently pushed into the ground so that he couldn't get his eyes open, but he could still hear.

What he heard was the clowns screaming and running around in panic, as something, some kind of animal, was tearing them apart. Suddenly his arms and legs were free, and he was able to turn over.

What he saw made his eyes widen. The only clown left was the lead one - and he was locked in battle with a huge panther!

The battle seemed to rage on forever, until the great cat leapt into the air in a fluid leap, and pinned the clown to the floor. With a swipe of its mighty claws, the clown deflated like a popped balloon, until he was just a piece of ragged fabric.

Then the cat turned and walked over to Sam, who was now sitting up but still too wary of this creature to move. Was it friend or foe in this crazy place?

The great cat placed its paw on Sam's shoulder... and spoke. "Are you okay, Daddy?"

"'Daddy?'" Sam nearly fell over at that one. "Why would you call me that?"

The cat cocked its sleek head. "Because you are my Daddy! You took me out of that scary place where that bad man threw me!"

Sam's jaw dropped. "L-Lucky? But you... you're... this..."

The cat leaned forwards and nuzzled Sam, its purring like the revving of a Harley….

Sam woke up to the sensation of soft fur rubbing against his forehead. A sneeze blasted forth, completely bringing him out of the weirdest dream he thought he'd ever had. He reached up and pushed the furry creature away, not surprised to see that it was Lucky, the cat's small black head and white whiskers within an inch of his face.

"Gah!" Sam croaked, his throat dry and raspy. He shifted position, and groaned as he registered how achy his body was. As he struggled to sit up, he saw Lucky follow him to sit beside him near the edge of the bed.

Lucky mewed at him and rubbed his head against Sam's arm.

Sam gently picked him up, thinking to himself how light Lucky still was. How small.

Yet as he looked into the cat's deep green eyes, he could never doubt the love that Lucky had for his family... or that his family had for him.

Even sick, Sam still managed to chuckle as he held the cat in his arms and gently stroked his soft fur. "You saved me, Lucky. Well at least the Dream-Me." He kissed the feline between his delicate ears. "Thanks a bunch, Little Guy."

Lucky looked up at Daddy and meowed. What WAS Daddy talking about?

Sam chuckled. "Forget it. I'm rambling." He gently placed the cat on the pillow beside his head, and with a sigh lay back down for some quiet clown-less dreams, certain he was being watched over by the best bodyguard on four legs.

Rose checked in on Sam periodically through the morning, in between fixing him some chicken noodle soup and putting the babies down for their nap. With the girls at school, and Robin having a play date with a friend after his morning kindergarten class, Rose was able to concentrate on caring for Sam between her other chores around the house.

She was standing over the stove, stirring the soup, when she heard a sound from the doorway. There stood her Puppy, his hair a mess and his eyes and nose reddened, but he was up and on his feet. She crossed the room to him, and gazed up into his puffy eyes. Caressing the muscles of his chest soothingly, she asked, "How're you feeling, baby? Can I get you anything?"

Sam shook his head, and shivered slightly. His voice gravelly, he said, "Nuh, uh. Just came down for a cup of tea. I thought maybe it'd help my throat."

Rose cupped his beard-coarsened cheek. "Sit. I'll get it for you. Want honey and lemon in it too?"

Sam nodded as he pulled out his chair and sat. "Yeah. Thanks." He looked around the room then up at her. "Where're the boys?"

"Taking a nap. Robin's at the MacGregor's for the afternoon." A steaming mug of tea in her hand, she carried it across the room and set it on the table in front of Sam, then sitting, reached out and smoothed the hair out of his eyes. "Lara called and invited him over. I didn't see anything wrong with it." The MacGregors were friends of theirs from church; their son Danny was currently Robin's closest non-family friend.

Sam shrugged. "S'ok with me." He took a sip of tea and grimaced as his sore throat struggled to swallow. He propped his head on a hand and closed his eyes.

Rose gazed at him, sympathy for him clouding her dark eyes. "I have some chicken noodle soup simmering, if you think you can eat any. It's homemade."

Sam opened an eye and looked at her. "Maybe later, ok? I'm not hungry."

Rose knew that when Sam was hungry, he'd let her know - and when he WAS hungry he'd probably be starved. She gave the soup one more stir, and brought a spoon up to her lips.

Sam watched as she daintily blew on it, and took a small swallow. He could tell she was rolling it around in her mouth, making sure it was perfect. She wouldn't give him less.

It still floored him sometimes that he'd found her - this beautiful creature, who'd stuck by him through all of the utter insanity that was a Winchester Life.

And yet, Rose had stayed - not only stayed, but also had thrived. Had married him, given him beautiful children, given him... a life.

In spite of his illness and general feeling of all around crapiness, Sam smiled.

Rose turned just in time to catch that smile on her husband's face. She put her hands on her hips, and asked, a smile of her own spreading wide, "What? What are you grinning at?"

"You. Just you." Sam held out his arms to her, and when she came and sat on his lap, he wrapped those arms around her slim form. He buried his face in her neck and whispered, his voice low and husky, "Always you."

Rose held him close, concerned about the heat radiating from him. Cupping his head, she surreptiously felt for fever, and sighed as she noted it didn't appear to be much higher than it had been that morning. She still worried. He didn't get sick often, but when he did, she knew it was because he'd worn himself down, screwing with his immune system.

"Honey, I know you're not hungry, but would you eat a little bit of soup? For me? You need nourishment." She wasn't above using a little bit of a guilt trip, or bribery, as long as it was in his best interest.

Sam tried to deny his hunger again - and shut his mouth tightly when his stomach rumbled with a growl loud enough to - well, if not wake the dead, at least give them a headache.

He glared down at his abdomen (trying to ignore his giggling wife) and muttered, "Thanks a lot. Traitor."

Rose got off his lap and walked back over to the stove. She poured him a mug of soup, walked back over to the table, and placed it before him.

She placed the spoon in his hand and said one word, making damn sure she used her "Mom voice."


Sam knew that not even his best Puppy Eyes ever would work on her. She was a mom and she had her own considerable powers.

He ate.

His throat screamed bloody murder, but he had to admit the heat of the broth and the wonderful taste made the pain worthwhile.

Rose stood over him, watching, until he'd eaten almost half the cup. When he frowned up at her and said, "It was wonderful, babe, but I just can't eat any more," he set the cup down and sighing, began to massage his forehead.

"Headache?" Rose asked, moving to stand behind him. When he nodded, she pressed against his head and drew it back to rest against her stomach. "Relax. Maybe if I rubbed your temples and your neck..."

As soon as she began doing so, Sam exhaled loudly. "That's...that feels good," he mumbled softly.

Rose's talented fingers went to work, and within moments, Sam was utter putty in her hands. His eyes drifted shut and his lips curved up into a smile. He began making soft noises, deep within his chest, sounds of total contentment.

Rose smiled, and managed to hold in her laughter - there was just something hysterical about her strapping, six-foot-plus husband almost purring under her touch.

She began to sing, very quietly, to cover her mirth, and Sam's eye cracked open at her choice of song.

"'You Are My Sunshine', Rose?" he mumbled. "'M not one of the kids..."

She grinned lovingly. "You don't have to be five years old to have this song sung to you. Just hush and let me continue." When he closed his eyes once more, Rose picked up the song where she left off. She felt his body relax under her fingers, the weight of his head against her warm and comfortable.

Even after her voice faded into silence, she continued to massage him, and it didn't surprise her when he fell asleep there in his chair. She whispered softly, so as not to disturb him, "Oh, my sweet, gentle man...I love you more than my next breath."

Sam's lips curled into a semblance of a smile, even in sleep.

Rose stood there for several minutes, letting him doze, her hands gently caressing his shoulders and chest, until finally he stirred and opening his eyes, looked up at her.

"Did I fall asleep? I'm sorry!"

Rose shook her head, and laughed softly. "No reason to apologize, Sam. You're sick; you need all the rest you can get. In fact... I know just what you could use right now."

"Oh, really?" Sam opened his mouth to say more, but instead of loving words, he started to cough.

Rose gently patted his back then started to rub in a circle, helping to calm the spasm. "You could use a nice warm bath," she finished. She held out her hand. "C 'mon, I'll set you up in the living room until your bath's ready."

"Rose I don't need to be pampered. It's just a cold," he said as he followed her out of the kitchen, and with a tiny shove from her, onto the couch.

Rose cocked an eyebrow. "If I was the one who was sick, wouldn't you be pampering me?"

"Well... yeah. But that's different!" Sam replied, finishing that statement with another coughing attack. When he could pull together a breath he finished with, "You're... m'wife... I'm supposed to take care of you."

Rose got down right in his face, cold fumes be damned. "Listen here, sparky. I love you just as much as you love me, and I retain every bit as much right as you do to do some pampering when it's called for. Got it?"

Sam couldn't help but smile at the attitude wafting from every pore of this woman he adored with every cell in his body. He blinked, considered his words then just said a silent 'Fuck it!' "If you insist."

Rose stood back to her full height, and giving him one last glare, said, "Stay put until I come for you."

Sam nodded, his energy to give her any further argument having dissipated. "Go do your thing," he waved her away. "I'll just quietly die right here."

Rose snickered. "Oh, so now the pity party begins? When did you cease being my husband and turn into Dean?"

That got the reaction she was looking for - Sam's eye sparked with surprise, and his mouth dropped open in shock. She giggled, "Gotcha!" then playfully booped him on the nose and walked upstairs to draw his bath.

He stretched out on the couch, and told himself he wasn't anything LIKE Dean. Dean acted like a five-year-old when he got sick.

Sam figured he acted at least like a six-year-old. Maybe seven.

"Bossy little minx," he growled, "you just wait 'till I'm—" he sneezed, "feeling better."

It only took Rose a few minutes to get the water running in the tub, and while it was doing so, she searched through her available bath salts. "Ahh, there it is!" she sighed with satisfaction as she pulled out a sizable bottle of Eucalyptus Mint. "That's the ticket!" She poured a generous amount into the water, and sighed loudly as the refreshing scent filled the room.

As the tub continued to fill, she gathered a fresh bath sheet in a plush forest green, and a soft bath sponge. She gave one last look over the room, and satisfied, she nodded and went to fetch her man.

When she got to the foot of the stairs, she looked into the room and grinned. There he was; stretched out full length, sound asleep. "Poor baby. I hate to wake you-" She crossed the room and leaned over him. Rubbing his chest, she said softly, "Puppy? Wake up, honey. Your bath's ready."

Sam did many things really well. Research. Being a good husband. Being a loving Dad.

Waking up gracefully when he was sick? Not so much.

Sam's eyes opened slowly and the growling/snorting/what the HELL was that noise that he made almost made Rose jump back in surprise. Honestly, he sounded like a grizzly bear!

"Do you need a spittoon, or should I just back up while you let one fly?" Rose asked with more than a little sarcasm.

Sam tried to glare, and it came off looking like the most pathetic Puppy Eyes in the history of Puppy Eyes.

He coughed and, because he felt not a little congested, pounded himself on the chest. "Sorry," he said huskily as he crossed the room toward the stairs with Rose at his heels. He made his way up slowly, not surprised to feel her rest her hand on his lower back as she followed him up.

By the time they reached the bathroom, Sam had his t-shirt pulled off. He tossed it to the floor near the door, soon dropping his pajama pants and underwear beside it. Steam billowed, and even with his nasal congestion, he could tell which bath salts Rose had used.

He sighed as he lowered his tall frame into the scented water, sliding down a little to rest his head against the bath pillow Rose had placed there to lean on. He took a deep breath, and felt the eucalyptus fumes fill his achy lungs.

Rose sat near him on the closed lid of the toilet and watched as he sank into the water. "Feel good?"

Sam nodded. "Yeah. God, yeah!"

Rose smiled as she watched him relax, letting the warm water work its magic.

Sam admitted to himself - when it came to taking care of someone, his Rose was the best.

Rose, for her part was watching Sam and just... well, truth be told, she was ogling him. She couldn't help it - he was gorgeous. On top of being sweet, brainy, sometimes silly... and hers.

He looked over at her, and grinned. "Care to join me, Rosebud? The water's just perfect."

Rose had to giggle. "You're so funny, Sam. Even sick the way you are, you're ready to pull me into the tub with you and play." She reached out and tweaked his nose playfully. "Silly man. Hold that thought, and when you can stay awake for longer than 15 minutes at a time, and can breathe like you're supposed to, then we'll talk. Or not." She winked saucily at him.

Sam had to admit she was right, but he couldn't resist teasing her back. "Well, 30 minutes, at least. When I make love with you, I like to" He grinned up at her, and chuckled when he saw how her eyes went a little darker.

"Brat," Rose muttered under her breath before she lowered to her knees beside the tub, and reaching for the sea sponge, lowered it into the water, filled it, and ran it over his chest.

Sam was about to protest that he was quite capable of bathing himself... when the rest of his body tweaked onto the fact that his hot, sexy wife was running that nice warm sponge over him, taking such good care to clean him.

For once, Sam listened to his body and not his brain, and shut up. If Rose wanted to take care of him, who was he to argue?

Instead he sighed, might have moaned a few times, and definitely, at least once, flat-out trilled in pleasure as Rose ran the sponge over his long, muscular frame.

"You're so beautiful, Sam," Rose murmured as the water ran in rivulets down his body.

Sam snorted (or tried to - it came out like a half-snort/half-sneeze.) "'M not beautiful," he muttered. The warm of the bath and Rose's gentle caresses were making him drowsy again.

Rose couldn't believe her ears. "You're not-" She dropped the sponge on his chest and, reaching out, thumped him on the head just as she did to Dean when he made an asinine remark. "Listen here, Winchester. No more comments like that, ok? You are the most beautiful man on God's green earth, inside and out. I don't want to hear that out of you anymore. Not one word!"

Sam looked at her, both startled as well as bemused. Her temper was amazing to behold, and he got not a little enjoyment out of watching her remonstrate him. He relaxed back and grinned as she continued to lambast him.

That is, until she stopped her tirade in mid-sentence when she finally saw the amusement on his face. She growled, and thumped him on the head again. "I swear, Puppy, your brother's not the only brat in this family. Arrrgh!"

"Can I help it if I think you're cute when you're mad?" Sam questioned, his eyes wide and innocent, a cheeky smirk on his lips.

Rose, opting for the path of least maturity, stuck her tongue out at him, and Sam cracked up laughing.

Rose rolled her eyes. "Oh yeah, you're feeling better." She stood up and held her hand out. "C'mon, let's get you toweled off and back into bed..."

"Alone?" Sam asked, giving her a full-on Puppy Pout plus Lower Lip Wibble - a combination she was never able to resist...

... at least until now. "Yes, alone, you ninny!"

Sam smirked. Yeah, he was still sick, and may very well be so for another couple of days, but he knew he'd never be too ill not to flirt with and proposition his wife.

He was sick - not dead.

Rose left Sam sleeping once more, after having gotten him settled back in bed, and after soothing a thick layer of Vicks Vapor Rub™ on his broad chest. It hadn't taken him long to drop off; the relaxing bath and another dose of cold medicine had knocked him out quickly.

The kids began showing up a little while later; Lara MacGregor having picked up the girls from school for Rose. She deposited all four, and with a wave, drove off.

Rose knelt and kissed her kids lovingly. "Daddy's upstairs asleep, so if you'd play quietly, I'd appreciate it, ok?"

Julia gazed at her, her eyes so like her dad's, a smoky blue-green. "Is Daddy feeling better yet?"

Rose smiled and nodded. "Maybe a little, precious. He still needs to sleep. Why don't you guys get your stuff put away and play quietly while I check on your brothers, then we'll all have a little snack, ok?" She ran a caressing hand over her daughter's hair as she stood up.

The kids made themselves comfortable in the living room; Angel and Jeni sitting on the couch, Julia sitting cross-legged on the floor with her favorite doll. Robin had picked up Lucky and was softly talking to the cat, asking him about how Daddy had been.

He looked up at his sisters, frowning slightly, "Lucky says Daddy was coughin' really hard and that he was all sniffly."

Jeni looked over at Angel, worry filling her eyes. "We should do something nice for him," she said softly.

"Like what?" Julia asked.

"I dunno," Jeni shrugged, "but just playing quiet doesn't seem like enough."

Angel suddenly bolted off the couch, a great big smile on her young face. "I know what we can do! Don't you guys 'member what Ethan and Seth did when Uncle Dean was sick?"

Julia squealed in happiness and Robin broke into a wide smile. "Happy Box!" they both chorused.

Jeni looked confused. "What's a Happy Box" she asked.

Robin, in his excitement, explained. "Uncle Dean got really sick las' year. Ethan and Seth made him a Happy Box so he'd feel better, an' chase away the nasty bugs that maked him sick." He raced to the toy box that was kept in a corner of the living room, and dug out his plastic container of well-used crayons and markers. He held it up and grinned. "I gots the colors!"

Julia and Angel, as one, went for some paper and a few coloring books.

Jeni, catching on, went out into the garage and hunted down an empty box. She squealed a little when she found a shoebox, still in good condition, which held a small ball of twine, a few rubber bands, a few screws and nails, and a girl's barrette. She shrugged, then dumped the items onto Daddy's tool bench, then carried her find back into the house.

"Look, I found us a box!" she said, holding up her prize over her head as she dashed back into the Living Room.

Angel beamed and gave her newest sister a thumbs-up and an "Awesome!" (both of which she learned from Uncle Dean.) "Now - we gots to make lots and lots and lots'a pictures, and they all gotta be full of colors so the bugs inside Daddy will go away. Julia - you draw a whole bunch of butterflies, and... Robin, you draw a bunch of suns with smiley faces on 'em. Daddy'll like those."

"What about me?" Jeni asked.

"You and me are gonna draw our whole family, Jeni! And we'll make a big sign that says... um... that says..."

"How about 'Get Well Soon, Daddy'?" The kids all looked up and there stood Rose, a baby in each arm, a warm smile on her face. She walked into the room, and sat on the couch. Gabe and AJ cooed and babbled at all the paper and colors. Whatever their sissies and bubba was doing, it looked like fun!

When Sam woke up next, the room was dark, even though the curtains at the windows were open. Just a little moonlight shone in, enough that Sam was able to see that it was now evening. He pushed himself up to sit on the edge of the bed, and taking note of how he felt, was relieved that he could at least breathe. His chest felt less heavy, and for the first time that day, felt rested.

He took a little time to use the restroom, washed his face, and brushed his teeth. That accomplished, he headed downstairs, and before he'd even reached the bottom, he could hear the cheerful voices of his children. He stood at the end of the hall that opened to the living room, and just grinned.

The three girls and Robin were all lying on their bellies on the floor, accompanied by Lucky who was curled up asleep next to Robin, and they were busily coloring and talking, their little voices filled with enthusiasm. The babies, six-month old AJ and Gabe, were in their playpen, babbling and cooing. Rose – his lovely, wonderful Rose – was ensconced on the divan, surrounded by her knitting supplies, her hands moving rapidly as she created yet another work of art.

Rose looked up and seeing Sam, smiled broadly. "Hey, honey! Feeling any better?"

At her voice, all of the kids currently on the floor jumped up and moved to surround their daddy, grabbing onto whatever part of him they could reach. Robin clutched a handful of Sam's pajamas, and wouldn't let go.

"Daddy! You's up! You feelin' bedder?" His eyes, so much like Rose's, glistened with a mixture of concern and happiness at seeing his daddy up and around.

Sam knelt to the kids' level, and throwing his arms wide, gathered them all close. "I'm better, son. Not over it completely, but better."

Julia had her face buried in her dad's throat, and like her brother, held on tight. Angel had her arms around his neck, hugging him from behind, and Jeni – quiet Jeni – held onto his right hand. Her eyes, a soft gentle blue, were locked on his face, concern filling them.

One by one, Sam held them close, hugging them and kissing their foreheads. It had been less than a full day, but he had missed them. Having them close felt good, and he sighed happily.

Rose looked on from the divan, her heart filling with joy as she watched Sam give each child some attention without ignoring the others. Even ill, she knew, Sam was an amazing father, and the level of patience he showed astounded her. She grinned as the kids led him further into the room, accompanying him to the divan where he collapsed beside Rose.

"Hey, baby," Sam smiled over at her as he reached out and ran a hand over her thigh. "Apparently, I was missed."

"Apparently!" Rose chuckled back. She gestured down to the floor where the kids had been creating. "The kids have been working on something for you."

"Oh yeah?" Sam checked out all the papers strewn along the carpet, along with pages torn out of coloring books. "What is all this?"

Always the spokesperson of the kids, Angel picked up a handful of pages and carried them to him. "We're not finished yet, but we started making a 'Happy Box' for you, Daddy, just like the one Uncle Dean got when he was sick."

"Really?" Sam took the papers she handed him and looked at each one. His eyes crinkled at the corners with delight at what his babies had done for him. "All this is for me?"

Robin pulled himself up on the couch and snuggled close to his daddy's side. "Uh, huh. Alls of it's for you. We wanted to get rid of those nasty bugs makin' you sick."

Sam leaned down and kissed the top of his son's head, then smoothed it with a gentle hand. "Thanks, guys. This is awesome. It totally is, and it must be working already. I feel better!"

Jeni, the shyest one of the bunch, hung back a little. Though not yet an official, legal Winchester, she was definitely one if love and an open home was all it took. Her adoption into the family hadn't been formalized, but Sam couldn't love her more had she been created from his loins. He saw her standing back as the other kids swarmed around him. He raised a hand and waved her over. "Baby girl, c'mere. Show me what you did."

Jeni smiled softly at him as she made room for herself between him and Rose. She leaned her blonde head against his upper arm until he lifted it and pulled her close. "Those are mine," she pointed to a few pages, all of them bright with bold colors and happy images. "See the rainbow?" she pointed out, proud of what she'd created for her new daddy.

"I see it, sweetheart," Sam said as he kissed her forehead. "It's beautiful, just like you." The pleased look she gave him made his heart fill until he swore it was ready to burst.

Rose commented, "These bunnies worked hard on it, but those guys over there," she gestured to the playpen where the babies were playing, "supervised." Setting her knitting aside, she rose from the couch and fetched first AJ, handing him to Sam, then Gabe who she held onto herself. "Our kids missed their daddy today."

Sam grinned as AJ thrust his little fist into his mouth then babbled around it. Caressing the little boy's dark blond locks, he asked, "Hey, big guy! Did you help your bubbas and sissies?"

AJ cooed and drooled, slobber moistening his dimpled chin.

When Sam looked over at Gabe, AJ's identical twin, he wasn't surprised to find his son playing with his own chubby toes. The boy was fascinated with them, more often than not trying to put them in his mouth. Reaching out, Sam ruffled the baby's hair, getting a one-toothed grin in return.

Surrounded by his family, Sam was content. It had been a long day, and he still wasn't feeling up to par, but he knew if all it took to make him well was his family's love, he knew he'd be 100% in no time.


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