Summary: Pre-series – Sick Sam – There was nothing like cleaning up after a carsick kid on the side of the road...
Disclaimer: Not mine
Warnings: Minor language
A/N: Obviously not a drabble, but this was inspired by the E/O Challenge word-of-the-week, which was "sparkle".
Sparkle /ˈspärkəl/ n. – an American brand of paper towels.
When I'm carsick, you pat me on the head... ~ Neïmo
It was one of those strange things men liked to do – buy paper products in bulk.
Napkins, tissues, toilet paper, paper towels...all of which came in convenient packs of 1,000 – either rolls or boxes, depending on your product of choice – and all of which were priced just too good to pass up.
"It was on sale!" the husband would enthusiastically defend to his wife once he had arrived home with enough napkins to last generations.
And the wife – fondly remembering that last pair of shoes she had purchased which had happened to not only know her first name but had also proven able to yell it quite loudly – would quirk a smile; knowing what it was like to get swept up in the thrill of such a siren call.
After all...a sale was a sale, whether it was on shoes or tissues.
"And besides..." the husband would continue wisely. "...you never want to run low on this..." he would counsel as he affectionately patted his haul of enough toilet paper to last a lifetime.
The wife would arch an eyebrow at that ridiculously obvious – yet inarguably true – explanation; leaning in the doorway of the kitchen with her arms crossed over her chest; more amused by the second as she stared at her husband proudly surrounded by his loot.
There would be a beat of silence.
"Can I keep 'em?" the husband would ask shyly; a grown man asking permission to keep his spoils; staring with wide eyes like a kid asking to keep a puppy that had followed him home.
The wife would sigh the way her husband would expect her to do.
"Please?" the husband would add.
The wife would smile – because what woman didn't want to hear a man say "please"? – and then would nod and roll her eyes as she tried to figure out why she loved that man she called her husband...and just where the hell they were going to store 1,000 rolls of paper towels.
As a result, paper towels would end up stashed in cabinets, in closets, under beds...and even in the back of the car.
Although today, Mary Winchester had to admit that she was thankful for her husband's purchase of said paper towels.
And he knew it, too...the smug sonuvabitch.
"Boy..." John began, having too much trouble keeping a straight face as he tore yet another wad of paper towels from the roll and handed them to his wife. "Good thing I bought all of these, huh?"
Mary glared from the opposite side of their minivan; wondering why moms always got stuck doing the nasty jobs...and wondering how their fun family road trip to a local amusement park had unraveled so quickly into the disaster it currently was...which included cleaning up baby vomit as they stood on the side of the highway with traffic whizzing by like the drivers thought they were on a racetrack.
"Good ol' Sparkle paper towels..." John praised, and Mary half expected him to pat the roll he held like it was a loyal, well-trained dog. "It's the thirst pockets that make them so effective."
Mary's glare intensified; not in the mood to hear her husband wax poetic about a product she was presently using to mop up milky puke in the back of a sour-smelling minivan. "If you don't shut the fuck up about your precious paper towels..."
John openly laughed at his wife's implied warning. "Oh, Mary. You know I love it when you talk dirty..." he teased her and then tilted his head. "But little ears..." he reminded – just as she would always remind him every time he let an F-bomb fly.
John glanced to the front seat where Dean and Sam were currently stationed; the reminder to his wife about their language policy unneeded since the four-year old was oblivious to everything at the moment...except the squirming five-month old he expertly held in his lap.
Mary still heeded the warning – after all, she didn't want her kids growing up with potty mouths – and sighed; inwardly collecting herself. "Sorry," she told her husband.
John shrugged. Because the language rule was Mary's, not his; he just enjoyed calling her on it whenever the rarity occurred.
Mary sighed again and then glanced to the front seat. "Dean..." she called and waited for her four-year old to turn around; smiling when he finally did. "Everything okay up there?"
Dean nodded, though he looked worried as his gaze flickered between his mom and his baby brother; Sam resting securely in the four-year old's arms.
Mary frowned and leaned further into the minivan; her eyes scanning her five-month old before she glanced back to her oldest. "What?"
Because as far as she could tell, Sam was fine now. He had been fussy before he threw up...fussy after he threw up...and fussy while Mary had changed him into fresh clothes under the shade of the minivan's lifted rear door.
But as soon as the kids had been relocated to the front of the vehicle and Sam had been placed in Dean's arms, the baby had almost instantly settled; had seemed to listen as Dean had sang the Batman theme song – over and over – and had only occasionally whimpered or sighed as his big brother had held him in the front seat while Mary and John had set about their task of cleaning up the backseat.
Mary had shaken her head as she had first surveyed the mess; always amazed how a baby so small could spew so much vomit in such a short time.
Because it had all happened so fast – one second Sam had been crying...and the next, Dean had been screaming that Sam was sick and had demanded John pull over.
Mary quirked a smile as she remembered her four-year old sharply issuing that order – and her husband actually following it – and then blinked, refocusing on the issue at hand.
"Dean..." Mary called again as she watched her oldest gently pat Sam's head; his small fingers carefully carding through the baby's fine hair in a soothing motion. "What's wrong? Is he okay?"
Dean shook his head. "We shouldn't go to the park if Sammy feels bad."
"He threw up," Dean further explained in response to his mother's confused expression and looked at Mary like he sometimes worried about her ability to take care of his brother...especially if she couldn't put two and two together in this situation. "People throw up when they feel bad."
Mary smiled at the four-year old's logic. "True..." she allowed. "But sometimes babies throw up for no reason."
Dean arched a skeptical eyebrow.
Mary's smile lingered, knowing her oldest had learned that gesture from her husband; John always having been able to express more with his facial expressions that most men could express with words.
Mary sighed and tossed the vomit-saturated paper towels she still held into the plastic grocery bag in the backseat floorboard; wrinkling her nose as she did so – because mother or not...this particular task was still gross and smelly.
Mary then awkwardly angled her body to reach for Sam as he continued to sit nestled in Dean's arms in the passenger seat; palming the baby's small forehead and cheeks to check his temperature.
"Fever?" John asked; glaring over his shoulder as some dickhead obnoxiously – and unnecessarily – blew the horn as his car sped by on the highway.
Mary shook her head. "No. Not that I can feel anyway..."
Sam whimpered and scrunched his face; suddenly squirming in obvious discomfort.
Dean continued to card his fingers through Sam's hair; his small hand offering comfort as the baby once again settled with a sigh. "See?" he asked, as if his brother's movements proved his point. "I told you he feels bad."
Mary watched her baby, unable to argue that her youngest did seem physically uncomfortable; slightly drawing up his chubby little legs like he did when he was colicky and cramping.
Mary sighed again, hating when one of her kids got sick...especially so suddenly, which seemed to be little Sammy's preference – fine one minute, yet spiking a fever or throwing up the next.
Mary glanced at John as he continued to stand on the opposite side of their vehicle; seeing her concern mirrored in her husband's expression and nonverbally asking his opinion.
John shrugged, still holding the roll of paper towels as he leaned against the open sliding door of the minivan. "Do babies get carsick?"
Because Sam had seemed fine when he had woke up that Saturday morning...fine at breakfast...fine as they had packed up and set out for the day's trip.
It was only when they had been on the road for about half an hour that the baby had started becoming fussy; squirming in his car seat and half crying in that way babies did when they were irritable or uncomfortable.
Mary had tried verbally soothing her youngest from the passenger seat while Dean had sat beside his brother and had bounced toys in front of the baby's face.
But nothing had seemed to satisfy Sam.
Then seconds later...
John inwardly cringed at the memory of their five-month old gagging and coughing while Dean had yelled about it and Mary had twisted in the front seat to see behind her...and then had gasped at the mess, which even now still covered the backseat almost 20 minutes later; vomit having the uncanny ability to slip into every nook and cranny.
John sighed. "Do they?" he pressed, still asking about whether or not babies got carsick.
Mary shrugged; because she didn't know. Her knowledge of babies had come from her experience with Dean; but Dean had never gotten carsick as an infant, so she was clueless on this.
But John's suggestion made sense.
Because Sam had been fine when they had left the house that morning; but the baby had never ridden in a car for more than 30 minutes at a time until today...and it was after about 30 minutes that Sam had started becoming fussy...and then shortly after that, had thrown up. So it would stand to reason – especially in the absence of fever or any other symptoms – that the baby had indeed been carsick.
"Huh..." Mary mused as she came to the conclusion and nodded at her husband. "I guess so. That's the only explanation that makes sense."
"Great," John replied dryly; his gaze flickering to the front seat and then back to his wife. "Bet that comes from your side of the family..."
Mary rolled her eyes at her husband's teasing and sighed; scanning the rest of the pukey mess still covering her baby's car seat.
John did likewise. "What the hell are we supposed to do with a kid who gets carsick?"
"Well, we can't leave him at home..." Mary answered and smiled when John scowled in response to her smartass reply. "So, I guess we'll have to figure something out. Maybe I'll ask Dr. Owens if he has any suggestions the next time Sammy has an appointment. But for now..." She sighed and gestured toward the mess splattered in the backseat. "...we just clean up after him and hit the road again."
"And leave the windows down..." John added, looking like he wanted to gag from the sour smell that continued to fill the minivan even with the sliding doors flung back.
Mary laughed, always amused when her badass, ex-Marine husband seemed to pale at the sight or smell of a baby's bodily functions.
Mary smiled. "Wuss..." she teased and winked as John cut his eyes at her. "But I still love you."
John playfully glared. "You only love me because of my paper towels," he returned and tore off a fresh wad as his wife motioned for more to continue cleaning up baby vomit.
"Good ol' Sparkle..." Dean remarked from the front seat; echoing John's words from earlier and causing both of his parents to laugh.
Dean narrowed his eyes; not understanding what was so funny as he continued to hold Sam while watching his mom and dad complete their task.
"Like father, like son..." Mary observed about John apparently passing on his love of hoarding paper towels to their oldest and felt strangely happy even as she mopped up the remains of her baby's breakfast.
Because Mary had always craved normal...and this was it – being a wife and a mother.
Even the gross parts were like heaven to Mary in comparison to what she had lived through before John Winchester had come along and had rescued her from a hunter's life.
In the next ten minutes, the task was finally complete – the roll of paper towels practically gone; the plastic grocery bag mostly filled with soiled rags; the minivan's backseat relatively clean; and the kids strapped in where they belonged...Sam in his car seat and Dean right beside him.
"On the road again..." John sang, impressively nailing the Willie Nelson twang. "I just can't wait to get on the road again..." he continued and smiled at his wife over his shoulder as he signaled his return to the highway and eased the minivan into the flow of traffic.
Mary smiled – loving when her husband was such a dork...and knowing no one ever saw that side of him except her and the kids – and then glanced in the backseat as her blond hair swept around her face from the breeze created by the minivan's open windows.
"Everything okay back there?" Mary asked her four-year old; her heart swelling with love and pride at how intently Dean was watching his baby brother; knowing her oldest took his job as a big brother very seriously and would be the first to know if something was wrong with their youngest.
Dean nodded. "Sammy's okay right now, Mommy," he reported and smiled. "I'm watchin' him."
Mary returned his smile. "I know you are, sweetheart," she praised. "You're a good big brother."
"I'm an awesome big brother," Dean corrected and then nodded for emphasis before glancing at Sam strapped beside him in his car seat. "Don't 'cha think, Sammy?"
Sam gurgled and kicked his chubby legs; his fisted hands punching the air as he smiled; tiny dimples showing in his fat little cheeks.
Mary's smile widened – thankful that at least one of her kids had gotten John's dimples – and suddenly wanted to cry from how adorable her baby was...and how sweet her four-year old was...and how amazing her husband was...and how lucky she was.
Dean grinned at his brother and playfully shook the baby's sock-clad foot. "Sammy agrees," he proudly told his mom. "I'm awesome."
"Like father, like son..." John quipped – echoing Mary's words from earlier – and winked at his wife as she cut her eyes at him.
Mary laughed and then glanced over her shoulder. "Let me know if we need to pull over again, Dean," she reminded her oldest and then looked at John. "Maybe if we can spot the warning signs, we can stop before Sammy gives a repeat performance. Might take longer to get where we're going, but it's better than cleaning up puke."
John wrinkled his nose but nodded his agreement with that plan. "Sounds good."
Mary nodded as well. "And then we'll just have to figure out the rest later..." She paused. "I mean...I know we don't usually take a lot of long car trips. But still...I don't want Sam to get sick whenever we do have to travel."
"Absolutely," John agreed. "He'll be fine. We'll figure it out."
Mary nodded again and sighed; glancing out the window and tucking her hair behind her ear as it continued to blow in the breeze.
There was a beat of silence; the radio playing low and Dean saying something to Sam in the backseat, though both sounds were drowned out by the wind roaring through the open windows.
"Good thing we'll never be traveling cross country, huh?" John remarked, still thinking about Sam's bout of carsickness, and smiled at his wife.
Mary shrugged. "Never say never."
John pulled a face. "Right," he drawled. "Like we ever go hardly 50 miles from Lawrence..."
Mary shrugged again and glanced once more over her shoulder – thankful to see Sam was finally asleep in his car seat – and then winked at Dean as her four-year old stared back at her and held his small finger up to his lips in a hushing gesture.
"I like to be home," Mary stated simply, facing forward and explaining to her husband why she liked to stay so close to Lawrence's city limits.
Because she had never had a home – a family – quite like she did now.
"I know," John agreed. "I like to be home, too." He paused for effect. "After all, that's where I keep most of my paper towels."
Mary rolled her eyes. "Oh my god," she replied, trying not to laugh at her husband's lame humor...and failing. "Shut up."
John laughed as well.
"Good ol' Sparkle..." Dean commented, obviously listening to his parents' conversation in the front seat and adopting his dad's tendency to refer to the paper towels by name as if they were a family friend.
John nodded. "Got that right, Dean..." he praised his oldest and winked at his wife. "Never leave home without 'em."
A/N: There's no timetable for updates on this, but I'm thinking about it becoming a multi-chapter story chronicling the woes of Sam's carsickness over the years...because obviously they do end up doing a lot of cross-country traveling.