Dead In Its Tracks
By: Karen B.
The young snakes were fast and efficient. The one coiled around Sam's ankle had already wrapped itself all the way up to Sam's waist trapping his legs inside the meaty skin and dragging him down, crash-landing him on his back with a loud grunt of pain.
The second snake attached to his shirt was just as super-fast, slipping round and round his upper body, gripping him in a tight hug. Newborn babies or not, the creatures were strong and powerful and apparently starving.
"Sam!" Dean slipped through the wet mud and bloody leaves, but remained standing as he slid the rest of the way across the forest floor, dropping straight to his knees when he reached his brother. He let the machete fall haphazardly next to him in the mud, his first instinct to try and pull the slimy skinned things off his brother. He tugged and pulled aggressively at the thick rope-like bodies, but the snakes only seemed to get pissed off and squeezed around Sam tighter, formfitting around the kid's body like a rock stars tight leather jumpsuit.
"Bobby!" Dean screamed again madly, hands now hovering, unable to find their heads or see their beady black eyes, and having no idea which ends of the snakes were which – their brown, diamond shaped color and size exactly the same – twins.
"Dee…Dean," Sam faltered, "I can…can…can't...uggh," he moaned arching upward a bit as the snakes applied more pressure.
"Son of a bitch." Once again, Dean reached out, this time grabbing hold of the nearest constricting coil around his brother's neck. The snake's skin was cold and slimy with mucous and blood and the thick body pulsed against his hand making it damn near impossible to hold on to.
"Ssssssssaaaam," Dean grunted, pulling upward for all he was worth, straining his every muscle trying to break the hold.
Sam watched the sky revolve in a dizzying array of panic and fear as the serpents continued to coil around him slowly forcing the air out of his lungs, his vision spotting black. But he wouldn't give up. Not on Dean, who was still tugging so hard his face had turned red. Sam struggled to help his brother to free him from the twin's grip. He arched his back further, puffing up his body, trying to loosen the rope-like beasts. They were just too strong and big, even as newborns.
Sam's blood vessels were already being cut off, his limbs numbing from lack of circulation as if they were plunged into a lake of freezing water.
"Cu…" Sam deflated, his entire body near paralyzed. Realizing one hand was free of the constricting coils, he instinctively clawed along the sloppy ground for anything he could use to help pry the snakes off. He could grasp at nothing, already tumbling into darkness as all the air was being squeezed out of him. "Cut 'em off," he choked out.
Dean glanced at Sam. His kid brother was gasping like a swimmer coming up after being underwater for too long, large wide eyes staring up at Dean, pleading for 'help.' Sam was in serious trouble. Dean had to do something now! Fast. He grabbed his machete out of the mud and stood, holding the large blade high overhead, panicked; about to hack down right in the center of the coiled, meaty blob of dark-gray diamond shaped scales.
"Wait. Dean. No!" A hand grabbed hold of Dean's. "You want to hack your brother in two?" Bobby panted.
Dean immediately dropped the machete. Shaking badly he went back to his knees near Sam's head. The kid blinked up at him in fear, his face wind-lashed red. Dean could just barely make out a vein in his brother's neck pulsing double-time between the snakes coils.
"Easy, Sam, easy," Dean said quietly, gaining some of his own composure back. "Try not to struggle so much. You understand me?"
"'Y's," Sam gasped.
Bobby dropped down on the other side, situated near the kid's waist, and shot Dean a look. "No way of telling how he's wrapped up in this snakeskin tortilla. Here." He handed Dean a survival knife – sharper and more precise than the machete – with a hard rubber grip and ten inch serrated blade. "Go fast, but go careful. More surgical-like cuts." He turned to Sam. "Son, you hold on. They're going to tighten down before they loosen, but I don't see any other way."
"Okay, yeah, okay," Sam panted breathlessly, face scrunching all up in pain and suffering.
Dean gripped the knife steadfast and bent low over Sam. "Do that calming, girly yoga breathing thing you do. You do that for me now, Sam, and don't you stop until I tell you too, you got me?"
There was hardness in Dean's eyes that bolstered Sam's confidence. He blinked up at Dean, slightly parting his lips and breathing slowly and as deeply as he could through his mouth, though it was more like slurping air through a weed, yet the technique seemed to already be calming him, gaining him back some control, quieting his fearful mind.
"Good, boy. Good, Sammy." Dean gripped the knife steadfast. "We've got this," he said again, nodding at his brother with a determined look in his eyes. "Bobby and I've got this. Just hang in there." Dean said firmly as he and Bobby got to work.
They started to cut into the tough skin, blood sluicing down their hands in rivulets.
The two snakes, right-off sensed something not good happening to them as they slithered and wound around their catch further. Sam was theirs and they weren't letting him go so easily.
Sam bit back a moan, now alternating breaths between his mouth and nostrils, staring straight upward at the leaves above and concentrating. His one free hand still poked out from between the coils, all five fingers opening and closing in time with each inhale and exhalation.
"Bobby?" Dean called, still not taking his eyes off his work.
When Bobby didn't answer, Dean glanced up at him.
Blood splattered across Bobby's shirt as he made cut after cut. He took a second to look across the snakes at Dean. "Making progress," he said quickly, a small muscle in his right cheek twitching .
'So are the snakes.' Dean vocalized without the use of words.
'Won't let him die, son,' Bobby telepathically stated back, his eyes blazing with fire.
Dean nodded and went back to cutting.
The snakes turned and twisted with shocking strength even though Bobby and Dean had cut deeply through in more than several spots.
"They regenerate fast," Bobby rasped harshly. "Gotta find their damn heads."
Dean bit his lower lip bloody, every slice and dice full of responsibility, fear, friendship, and brotherly love. Out of his peripheral vision he watched Sam struggle under the powerful hold. His brother's calm breaths were now turning to quick jerky ones, his face shockingly white and his lips bloodless.
"Sammy?" He leaned toward him but didn't stop working.
"Trying," Sam took in one hard inhalation after another hard inhalation, his lungs burning from the pressure. He was helpless and losing control. Not able to focus on the leaves above any longer, he watched as Dean and Bobby frantically tried to free him.
Everything started to twirl at Mach speed, the forest a colorless, dream-like carousel. Sam's oxygen was depleting fast, so was his trust that Bobby and Dean 'had this'. "Dean. Hur-hurr – " Sam's words were cut off by a bubbly gulp of air.
Dean paused, looking hard at Sam. The kid's hazel eyes were bulging, sweat dripping down his flushed face and pin-straight strands of hair sticking to his forehead making him look like a feverish four-year-old. The sight of his brother suffocating right before his eyes brought Dean to near madness. "Come on, Sammy, don't try to talk," he whispered, hunching over and going to work on the scaly loop around his brother's neck. Only this time Dean kept his eyes on Sam as he cut, needing his brother to feel he really was with him in his struggle.
Sam's eyebrows shot up. What are you doing?
Dean could feel Sam's fear thrumming through him, yet he smiled. "Sam, I won't cut you, won't let anything happen to you, promise." Dean's tone was reassuring and stable and confident even though he wasn't sure he could promise such a thing. "Got me, pal?" he said using an authoritative, demanding tone.
Exhausted, but reassured, Sam gave a slight nod of his sweat-slicked head, his breath slipping in and out of his mouth in short sporadic pants, knowing if he breathed any slower he wouldn't be breathing at all.
"Just keep sucking in air." Dean went back to focusing on the task, snake blood leaking out from between his fingers, his protective instinct kicking up his pace as he sawed faster.
Seconds were hours.
Near unconscious, Sam pulled in harsh wheezing breaths, straining and sweating profusely as the snake's big bellies crushed him further, breaths coming shallower and shallower.
"Dean," he whispered lethargically, feeling himself fading fast.
Realizing what was happening; Dean stopped what he was doing just in time to see Sam's gaze wandering off, slanting lazily off to the right, unfocused and blank.
"Hey!" Dean stopped and grabbed his brother by his exposed hand and squeezed. Sam's flesh was cold to the touch–lack of circulation–but Dean ignored that fact. "Hey. Over here, bitch," he ducked his head until Sam's gaze slowly slid back to meet his. "I'm getting you out of this, Sammy, but you have to give me something here. You understand what that means?"
Seeing his own fear mirrored in Dean's eyes, Sam squeezed his brother's hand back in a death grip. "Means I have to–"Sam swallowed. "T –"he rasped. "To give all I've g-got," he stuttered in barely a whisper.
Dean gave a weak smile.
Sam hiccupped for a breath.
The brother's eyes wouldn't leave the other for what seemed like an endless amount of time, both knowing too well, understanding without a doubt what was about to happen next.
Sam's eyes filled with accepting trust as he suddenly found himself slammed against a brick wall, stuck between a hard place and well…a hard place, unable to release a breath or take one in, his lungs frozen. He went completely stiff, could feel the light leaving his eyes.
"Sammy, no," Dean uttered in devastation, letting his knife plop to the mud.
"Dean, keep on task," Bobby's shout was a mere tickle in Dean's ear, his full concentration on his quickly fading brother.
Sam made an odd gurgling noise deep in his throat, his eyes mere slits, his attempt to talk failing, replaced by a faraway gaze, his lips moving but no sound or air coming out.
"Damn you, Sam," Dean spat. "I need you to listen to me, okay? Just listen and keep your eyes open. We're getting these bitches off of you. We don't give up." Dean kept hold of Sam's hand, pushing the fingers of his other roughly through Sam's hair. "Tell me you hear me. Stay with me, pal!"
Sam blinked slowly, his death grip slipping.
"Sammy?" Dean swallowed hard.
Sam choked, eyelashes fluttering like butterfly wings, his white lips quickly assuming a bluish color, but remaining parted. Sam's tongue was thick and heavy trying to poke and push words out, but no words would come, only a deep down rattle that rumbled and bubbled from somewhere inside his chest.
Frantic, Dean let go of Sam's hand, and grabbed hold of the sides of his brother's head instead, dipping down within an inch of Sam's face. "Come on, man, hold on," Dean begged, fingers digging cruelly into the sides of Sam's temples leaving marks, utterly freaked.
"I see you, you slimy bitch," Bobby announced loudly.
The twisted up snakes suddenly constricted further and there came the sound of bone cracking.
Sam's neck arched far backward, tiny white air bubbles soundlessly slipping past his lips.
"God, no," Dean looked back, "Bobby, they're killing him."
Bobby growled feverishly grappling for a head before it could curl into the mass of bodies and hide again.
Sam made a crocking sound.
Dean whipped around just in time to witness his brother's final gasp. His eyes making rapid up and down movements until they finally rolled all the way up into his head and his mouth fell open.
"No, no, no," Dean shouted, watching as Sam's skin turned from pure white to pale blue.
"Dean?" Bobby didn't need to waste time looking; he knew. Just kept hacking and trying to untangle the rubber-like bulk.
"Not breathing, he's not breathing," Dean shouted, as he immediately slipped a hand under Sam's neck and lifting it as far back as he could and started mouth-to mouth.
"I got one!" Bobby announced pinning one of the writhing snakes at the neck with his forearm, grunting and sawing through the thick muscles.
The snake's jaws opened wide and Bobby realized his whole head would completely fit inside its mouth and shivered hard. But the threat of his face being chomped off wasn't why he trembled. Hearing Dean begging his little brother to' just breathe' was what scared the hell out of him, taking ten years off his lifespan.
Bobby put everything he had into cutting faster. The head hung by a thread. He made one final cut, severing the head and tossing it off to one side. The dying body wiggled and waggled like a runaway garden hose, blood spurting all over. Not stopping, Bobby went straight to loosening the dead body from around Sam's torso.
"Is he breathing yet, Dean?" Bobby questioned too busy to stop and look and hoping to hell that he'd loosed the dead snake enough to give Sam's oxygen deprived body a break.
Dean sat back on his heels, fear flooding through his being like ocean tides. Cupping a palm over Sam's nose and mouth he waited holding his own breath.
There was nothing.
Sam wasn't ventilating properly, the coils around his neck and chest far too tight to let any air trickle in.
"Yes? No?" Bobby shouted in frustration, going straight to searching for the remaining reptile's head.
"His airway's blocked." Dean bent back over and tried to breathe again for Sam, pinching the kid's nose snug, encircling warm lips securely over cold ones, and initiating two fuller, longer breaths of air.
It was like hitting a brick wall. Sam's chest didn't move up or down.
The last snake suddenly doubled its efforts to hide its head, looping and twisting and curling around its safe haven.
"Dean?" Bobby yelled.
Dean tried again and again to the point of dizzy; desperately pushing air into Sam's lungs.
"I can't." Dean sat back up, shaking his head in anguish. "Friggin' bitch. I can't get any air into him," he mumbled, staring helplessly down at Sam, the whites of his brother's eyes peeking out from under the shade of long lashes.
"Dean, help me find the other head!" Bobby ordered sternly.
Dean drew back further as if hypnotized. Unable to see the pulse in Sam's neck, he tried to work his fingers past the snake-like rope to check for one, but the damn thing was like a sailors knot. Dean quickly picked up Sam's lax, cold wrist-the only visible part of him besides his hair.
"Sammy, please," Dean begged, feeling for some sort of rhythm.
"Heartbeat?" Bobby barked in a shaky voice.
Dean gulped, feeling dizzy and sick. "I can't tell."
"Dean!" Bobby shouted. "The other head," he reminded the distraught older brother. "Hurry. It's Sam's only chance."
Dean shuddered giving one last look at Sam's slack face, then roared a wounded battle cry as he took up his survival knife once again and stared slicing and dicing like a Ninja warrior, desperate to free his brother.
Sam's energy was drained; he floated in a relaxed, dream state in a faraway beautiful land. Everything was lush-green and warm-gold. He felt the flutter of petal soft wings, white wings that encircled him, comforted him, and begged him to give in. But distant whispering pleas forced him to twist and turn away from the comfort and now he found himself floating in darkness, afraid, alone, abandoned.
He couldn't think straight or speak inside this distorted dream. Something was wound around his throat. His chest heavy, body ridged and hot, then suddenly cold and numb, yet he couldn't shiver.
The whispering became louder.
Orders were being barked out. Agitated and panicked. Someone was begging him to do something. The more he listened, the more he was pulled from the darkness, the cold and numbness wearing off. The voice equaled pain and Sam so desperately wanted to ignore the pain, but he couldn't.
"Come on!" Someone yelled right in his ear, demanding something of him. "Damn you." A hand clasped his shoulder and shook violently. "Sam! Sam! No, Sammy!"
"There's still a pulse. Weak but there. Keep breathing for him," an older voice instructed.
Immediately, warm air blew down his throat and lifted the heaviness in his chest.
"It's a bad day for dying, boy," the older voice muttered.
Sam felt like a fire breathing dragon had taken up root in his lungs. He tried to move, to run away from the uncomfortable pressure and heated flames, but couldn't.
"This isn't working." The hand on his shoulder was back, fingers digging in, shaking. Bruising. Hurting. "Sammy!"
Sam tried to bat a hand out through the darkness.
"Keep at it, Dean."
Dean? Sam frowned, his awareness raising a notch, images flashing like a camera in the darkness.
A bloody glob, legless creatures, still as statues, two forked, flicking tongues, white fangs striking out, without sound and amazing speed. Slimy ropes looping around him, strong muscles flexing, tightening and releasing, squeezing, body-to- body friction, too hot, so painfully hot. He couldn't breathe, his world dark, void, cold.
Please. Get them off me. Get them off.
Sam felt himself sinking further away, the images fading and the pain leaving again. That should have been a good thing, but all it served to do was to freak Sam out, he tried to work his throat muscles, take in some air, but his efforts where met with nothingness.
"No, no, no." He heard someone sucking in a deep harsh breath, felt trembling lips sealed over his mouth firmly, familiar fingers massaging the sides of his throat as air trailed down to reinflate his lungs for him.
"Now, Sammy! Now, damn it!"
The booming voice in his ear was like an electric jolt. Sam began to twitch, his body shifting slightly. He let out a harsh croak, neck arching back, Adams apple sliding up and down as he drug in a deep and painfully grating breath.
"We got him back. We got him," the older voice announced gleefully. "Told yeah it was a bad day for dying."
Sam's eyes snapped open in fear and panic and confusion, staring blurrily up, his heart banging like a brass gong in his chest.
"Again, Sammy. That's it. Do it again," Dean said, steadfastly keeping two fingers pressed to Sam's neck. "Slow it down. Just breathe, little brother, breathe. Nice and simple, it's all you have to do." Dean gave a megawatt smile.
"Nuuuh." Sam's head moved from side to side, legs kicking, arms twitching at his sides. The snakes? He could still smell them; still feel them knotted around him even though somewhere inside his mind he knew they were gone.
"Calm down." Dean winced, watching his brother's fast and frenzied struggle to regain himself. "Come on, bro, calm down. You can breathe now." Dean gripped Sam's head between his hands and raised him up a little, peering deeply into his eyes. "You can breathe now," he repeated. "Come on."
Sam's entire body was shaking and bucking as he painfully wheezed and gasped for air, his eyes glazed in confusion, his brain deprived of thought.
"Help me get him onto his side." Bobby came into view. "He'll be able to breathe easier."
Dean hurriedly worked with Bobby, gently rolling Sam onto his left hip. He sat in the wet muddy leaves, placing Sam's head in his lap, happy to see the kid's skin slowly coloring back to normal.
"D'n," Sam coughed a few more times, and then twisted onto his back, blinking upward, searching.
"Right here. I'm right here," Dean assured, fingertips butterflying down the side of Sam's cheek.
Sam sighed, his eyes doing a fluttering roll, his lack of strength staggering.
"Hey, hey, no, no." Dean crowded over him. "None of that crap." He traded fingertips for palm, patting at Sam's cheek a little too eagerly.
Sam's eyes continued to flutter, the sky above whirling. The worried face in his blurred in and out and spun the opposite way of the sky making him nauseous. Sam focused on the fast moving lips, listened to the voice, the words sounding muffled like they were deep underwater where there was no air.
Sam shook his head. "Can't." He couldn't breathe. His lungs were stuffy and hot. Space, he needed more space. "Off," Sam sputtered, desperately surging upward with every ounce of strength he had left in him.
"Whoa! Sammy!" Dean situated his knees in the mud, using his full weight and both hands flat to Sam's chest to press him back down. "Yes you can, man. Come on," he shouted. "I need you with me now."
Sam's eyes went wide with dread as he weakly brushed at his body.
"Geeze, kid really is afraid." Bobby frowned, getting up from where he was sitting next to Sam and stepping back, giving the space the kid obviously needed.
Sam sloshed about weakly under Dean's hands, a heavy wheeziness rasping in and out of his open mouth.
"Stop flipping out, Sam. Need to look at you." Dean gripped both Sam's shoulders and held firm.
Sam heard, but his oxygen deprived mind was having a hell of a time processing. The snakes were gone. He knew that, but had to keep reminding himself. They're gone. Gone. Gone. But then why could he still feel their coiled bodies writhing around him, dragging him down, and squeezing the life from him.
Deciding to take a gentler approach, Dean pulled Sam up to his knees and held the kid close and flat against his chest. One hand at the center of Sam's back, the other threading up into his long hair and bringing Sam's head to rest on his shoulder at the crook of his neck, cradling him secure and safe.
"They're gone, Sammy. It's just me." Dean gripped Sam's hair in a fist when the kid tried to pull away. "You can breathe. We're breathing together." Dean took in deep breath after deep breath his chest expanding, pushing against Sam's. "Listen," he inhaled. "Just listen," he exhaled right in Sam's ear.
In and out. In and out, Dean tutored his brother on the simple task.
Sam finally stilled, his jittery body draping over Dean in sudden limpness, arms dangling at his sides. His mind shifted. The scent of Right Guard and beer breath settled in and took root. His brother had him. "Dean." One hand reached up to grip Dean's shirt.
"That's right, that's my, boy," Dean whispered, still sucking air in and out, puffing into Sam's ear. "Better," He muttered, releasing Sam's hair, placing his hand gently on his back instead.
Sam swallowed painfully. "Better," he assured in a strained voice, concentrating on every breath as the tight feeling in his chest left.
Dean wiggled a hand up between them, easing Sam upward so their eyes could meet, keeping one hand at Sam's back the other against his chest, holding the kid's weight sandwiched between his palms.
Sam wordlessly scrambled to pull his shaky legs under him, but didn't get very far.
Dean readjusted his hold; he twisted behind Sam and pulled the kid down. "You're not walking anywhere, dude."
Sam quickly realized this and lay back against Dean, weak and heavy and awkward. He raised a hand up to touch Dean's face, but a popping sound stopped him. "Guh,"he cried out, thrusting upward and doubling over trying to escape the pain as his hand dropped to his side, floppy and useless. "M' arm," he panted, face turning green, teeth gnashing together hard enough to chip porcelain.
"Sam?" Dean called softly.
Sam couldn't answer, his body trembling as he bit back small sobs.
"Easy. Easy, Sammy," Dean soothed, now rubbing circles on the kid's back. While Sam remained hunched over and quivering, Dean triaged his brother without ever touching him. From elbow to wrist, Dean could see by the deformed angle and extremely swollen balloon-like flesh what was wrong.
"Broken?" Bobby asked.
"But good." Dean and Bobby grimaced at one another.
"Least he's not a horse," Bobby said, tipping his hat to shade his eyes from the drops of rain still slipping off the leaves. "Between us we could help him walk back," he suggested.
"You think you can do that, Sammy?" Dean asked, continuing his massaging.
"Fine," Sam groaned. "I'm…I'm fine," he gagged, listing sideways.
Dean shook his head. "Yeah, we're not going anywhere like this," he told Bobby firmly, pulling Sam back slowly and gently being sure not to wrench any part of his brother until he had him resting snuggly once again against his chest.
Sam could do nothing more than sag back, gagging in Dean's arms. "Give…just give me a minute," he swallowed reflexively.
"Sorry, son, you're going to have to take more than a minute I'm afraid, "Bobby muttered.
Sam shifted uncomfortably opening his mouth to protest, the sharp pain in his arm making his stomach flip and flop.
"We could carry him," Dean offered.
"I don't know about you, Dean," Bobby continued. "But my back can't hold a kid his size. Truck's eight miles back. Be like corner pocketing an eight ball using a rope instead of a stick."
"Guys," Sam barely said the word, his throat raw, chest heavy, all his limbs going as soggy as bread soaked in a bowl of milk, and for some stupid reason he itched all over the place. But still he tried to inch his way higher up on Dean's chest.
Dean glanced down at Sam seeing the kid's misery, and his face crumpled. "Yeah, you're right, Bobby," he agreed. "Stay still," he pressed Sam back keeping him from sitting up and going back to talking to Bobby. "A two-week old, three-legged kitten would make it before he ever did. What about your truck?"
"Guys," Sam uttered in a pitifully weak voice, his tongue flapping lazily about in his mouth like piece shoe leather.
"Trucks not heavy-duty, but Old Ethel should be able to Baja her way through the path we cut."
"Old who?" Dean hiked a curios brow, picturing the old rusty-yellow truck wearing a polka-dotted skirt and white granny wig.
"Guys," Sam coughed.
"The walk back shouldn't take long," Bobby continued. "You sure you can handle this end?"
"Guys," Sam rasped out a little glob of spit foaming on his lips.
"What?" Bobby and Dean barked at Sam.
"Bigger problems," Sam offered flatly barely able to keep his eyes focused. "That thing had babies. You know what that means."
"Holy crap, Bobby, he's right," Dean said, shoulders stiff as he urgently hovered over Sam protectively, sizing up the immediate area.
"Taker her easy, boys," Bobby injected calmly, "Damn snake's a freak of nature. Has both lady parts and man parts."
"A Hermaphrodite," Sam sighed. "Relax, Dean," he muttered.
Dean didn't relax. Not just yet. "You mean that thing had…er… a …he," he shook his head. "And…uh… she…a…a he-she."
Bobby rolled his eyes. "All that and brains too, unlike you, yeah idgit."
Sam gave a small chuckle but was cut off by another unforgiving gagging fit that ended on a kneeing sob.
Sam caught the questioning look Bobby gave Dean.
"Guys," Sam took a breath. "I can make it," he whispered, trying to hold his head up high in proof.
Dean shook his head 'no' fashion at Bobby.
"I'm on it," Bobby said, and broke into a jog, heading back down the cut path.
Sam squirmed uncomfortably against Dean, scratching an itch on the side of his neck against Dean's shirt. "D'n. I said…I can make it."
"Make what, dude? Spit bubbles?"
Sam tried to retort with something smart assed, but only succeeded in producing a hearty, raspy cough.
"Hey, easy." Dean ran his fingers through Sam's sweaty hair.
Sam closed his eyes, wishing he could reach the itch on his sweaty back. "Itch in every possible place," he griped, miserably.
"Huh?" Dean squirmed about in realization as well. "Me, too." He glanced around. "Damn mosquitos."
After getting Sam checked out, his broken arm put in a cast, and the bite mark on his chest flushed clean at the local ER, Bobby had found them a motel room to hold up a few days in. The room was small and clean, decorated in powder-puff-girly- pink.
Bobby stood at the foot of the turned down King-sized bed and sighed with sympathy at Sam and Dean both huddled under the covers together.
"You two are one hot mess," he grumbled, rubbing at his chin and wincing at the sight of the raw, red, oozing, blistery rash that had broken out all over both his boys.
"Not as hot of a mess as this room is, Bobby," Dean sulked loudly, eyes roaming the sparkly pink on pink and yet even more pink room. "Could have gotten us a room with two Queens at least."
"What's a matter with you, boy? Your new boudoir isn't sexy enough for you?"
"All of me is sexy enough," Dean snipped, "For me." He titled sideways a little and whispered confidentially in Sam's ear, "What part of me would be my boudoir?"
Sam titled sideways toward Dean and whispered back, "A boudoir is a ladies private bedroom, Dean."
Dean shifted uncomfortably. "I knew that. Was just checking to see if you knew."
Bobby humphed, "Jug heads, I don't need the aggravation." He rounded the bed to Dean's side handing him the remote control. "Watch TV."
Dean snatched the remote and started clicking. "There's crap on TV, and this is all a bunch of crap," his tone cranky and irate, reaching to scratch at the side of his neck.
Bobby grabbed his wrist stopping him. "I told ya before, boy. This isn't crap and it isn't mosquitos. It's poison ivy, and if you go on a scratching at it you'll infect it. Don't touch," Bobby said letting go Dean's hand and shoving candy wrappers and pop cans out of the way. He pulled the covers down exposing Dean's bare chest and sat on the edge of the bed beside him. "You're both broken out all over." He squirted white cream out of a tube he held and started to rub it all over Dean's chest, neck, and arms.
"Hey, that's cold," Dean yelped, squirming about.
Bobby shrugged easing Dean up so he could get at his back. "Think I'm havin' fun, boy? But it's the only way to help get rid of the rash," he grouched.
Dean cringed. "Don't say rash."
"Okay, your outbreak."
"Bobby." Dean cringed again. "Stop."
"Inflammation," Bobby said a wryly little half-smile on his face.
"Sammy, little help here," Dean said, turning to face his brother who also was covered head to toe in redness and white cream.
"Would you prefer Toxicodendron radicans?" Sam injected the skin around his eyes tight.
"What the hell?" Dean shuddered and fidgeted as Bobby laid him back against the pillows.
"It's the scientific name for poison ivy, Dean." Sam writhed against the mound of pillows stacked behind him.
"Shut up," Dean grumbled, lower lip pouting.
"Where else you itch, boy?" Bobby asked, squirting out another liberal glob of cream onto his fingers.
"Someplace you… will… never… go. "Dean scratched at the crook of his arm, then the side of his neck, then his chest and stomach and…"Damn it," he barked, nabbing the tube, jumping out of bed making a beeline to the bathroom and not bothering to shut the door. "This friggin' sucks," he blurted, a second later poking his head out of the doorway. "It's a foo-foo chick's bathroom," he bellyached.
"He always this bitchy?" Bobby glowered over at Sam.
"Mmmm," Sam hummed his agreement, his throat still hot and swollen, body achy and itchy all over, especially his casted arm.
"You okay, son?" Bobby asked quietly.
Sam moaned, the fingers poking out of his cast twitching as he tried to adjust his broken arm on the fuzzy pink pillow it rested on.
"…toothbrush holder, shower curtain, fluffy rugs… even the toilet seat is chick-pink," Dean continued his ranting from inside the bathroom.
"Dean, can the attitude," Bobby boomed. "Your brother here has a broken arm. How many times have you heard him complaining?"
"Why aren't you covered in head to toe, Bobby? You were rolling around in the same crap Sam and I were," Dean grumbled, still inside the bathroom.
"Immune to the stuff." Bobby walked over to stand by the door. "Hand me a cold cloth, boy."
A second later Dean was in the doorway, wet washcloth in one hand, tube of white cream in the other, fixing Sam with a worried look.
The kid's face was puckered in pain as he tried to get comfortable on the king-sized bed, scooting to the left, to the right, sitting forward, and leaning sideways only to finally jam himself back into the mound of pillows behind him.
"Sammy? How bad?" Dean asked his voice suddenly husky with worry.
"No worse– "Sam broke off with a strained yawn. "Than…than before," he finished, taking in a few shallow breaths.
Dean raised his eyes to Bobby.
"He's still really weak." Bobby walked over and snatched the dripping towel from Dean and moved over to the small cooler on the table near the window and pulled out a blue gel pack.
Dean stood silent, staring. Sam's hair was mussed, his face flushed, throat ringed with lavender bruises that matched the lavender circles under his exhausted eyes, and forehead pinched probably against a pounding headache.
Sam rubbed at his throat. "I'm okay, Dean," his voice a tiny mew. "But you won't be," he said, spying the tube of white stuff in Dean's hand. "If you put any of that cream on your –" Sam's eyes traveled downward.
Every muscle in Dean's body stiffened and he shifted from foot-to-foot uncomfortably glancing down. "Oh, son of a–" he suddenly wailed, dropping the tube to the carpet and dancing a jig, a pained expression on his face.
Sam grimaced. "Too late."
"What in tarnation is his problem now?" Bobby asked tiredly as he stepped up to Sam's bedside and gently laid the gel pack against the kid's throat.
Sam's eyes filled with gratitude, couldn't believe how wonderful that felt. He smiled up at Bobby. Thank you.
Bobby smiled back, patting Sam's shoulder, and then lightly placed the wet washcloth on his forehead. Any time, boy.
Dean jumped up and down awkwardly. "Bitch," he moaned, eyes watering. "Bitch, bitch, bitch," he continued to rant and dance about.
Bobby's smile faded to a scowl as he turned to consult Dean. "Did you put that cream where I think you put that cream, idgit?"
"My sea of tranquility was itching," Dean gritted out his teeth. Tottering across the room like a bow legged cowboy coming off a long cattle drive, he crawled back into bed, drawing up the sheet.
"His sea of what?" Bobby looked wide-eyed at Sam.
"You know." Sam's voice trailed off.
Bobby got the point immediately. "You dumbass, Dean, you know what hangs out right there."
"Yeah, thanks, I know. Crap." Dean wormed around under the covers. "And now I itch and burn at the same friggin' time."
"Tried to warn you," Sam chirped.
Dean frowned at Sam. "What the hell is that white stuff anyway?"
"Preparation H," Sam laughed.
"It's not just for hemorrhoids anymore," Bobby chuckled nonstop. "Good for those puffy bags under the eyes, and a wrinkle cure too."
Dean studied the older hunter's face. "Right, because that's really helping your cause there, Bobby." He reached over and took the washcloth off Sam's forehead and brought it under the blankets with him. "Ahahaha," he moaned in obvious relief, his movements teeping the bedcovers.
Bobby glared at Dean like a Doberman who'd treed the annoying neighborhood cat. "Burns like the dickens don't it, kid." He grinned widely.
Dean continued to tackle whatever he was tackling under the covers, glaring at Bobby and rendered speechless.
"Good," Bobby said satisfactorily. "Now that we have that settled, I'm heading out for supplies. You two stay put." Bobby stormed off grabbing his keys and heading for the door. "And, Dean, give your brother back that washcloth right now."
"Fine." Dean pulled the cloth out from under the sheets and moved to place it back on Sam's head.
"Stay away from me with that thing," Sam snarled in disgust, turning his face into his pillow to escape.
Dean shrugged, the washcloth going back under the sheets. "Aw," he sighed some more.
"Knock it off you two. Me and ol' Ethel will be back in two shakes."
"Why'd you name your truck, Ethel?" Sam asked, groaning as he struggled to lift his casted arm to reach an itch on his good arm.
"Just keep still," Dean muttered to his brother, drawing a hand out from under the covers and reaching over to scratch the itch for him.
"Dean, I mean it. Don't touch me –"
"Shut up, Samantha." Dean scratched the itch.
"Uh, guh," Sam moaned unable to wiggle away, his forehead wrinkling from the pounding headache he sported.
"You boys are a pain in my ass," Bobby crossed back to the bathroom, stuffing the keys into his pocket as he went.
"Plenty of Preparation H left," Dean sniped sarcastically after him.
Bobby came out of the bathroom growling like an oversized bear.
"Right," Sam jumped in. "So, uh, who's Ethel, bobby?" he asked trying to change the subject quickly before Bobby ate Dean alive.
Bobby walked over to Sam's side of the bed, not taking his heated stare off Dean. "Ethel Merman. Gypsy Rose Lee, Hello Dolly, Annie Get Your Gun," he said, placing the fresh, cool cloth to youngster's forehead.
Sam sighed blissfully, closing his eyes.
"Welcome, kid," Bobby beamed down at him.
"Those all the chicks you slept with way back in the day?" Dear quirked, going back to doing whatever the hell it was he was doing with his washcloth under the sheets.
"Watch yourself, boy, respect the truck," Bobby warned. "Beats the hell out of naming her after some dirty dancer," Bobby grumbled in an ornery tone, hands on his hips.
"Hey," Dean pointed a finger at Bobby. "Swayze rules."
"So what would you have me name her?" Bobby barked.
"Chiquita banana, Old Yellower, Butter cup, Pac Man," Dean smirked, thinking of the old rusted-yellow pickup.
"Vincent Van Gogh," Sam suggested, eyes still closed, squirming against Dean trying to get at an itch on his back.
"Huh?" Bobby and Dean queried.
"Dutch artist, painted sunflowers representing life in its different stages," Sam smartly said, giving a little cough a shiver running down his spine, peeking open his eyes.
"Good one, Geek," Dean chuffed proudly.
"Thanks, Dean," Sam responded happily.
"You know what your two problems are?" Bobby asked.
"No what?" the boys asked together.
"You think too much," Bobby pointed at Sam. "And you think too little," he pointed at Dean looking ticked.
"Think we hurt his feelings," Sam whispered, wiggling against the mattress trying to get at an itch at the center of his back.
"I think you're right," Dean whispered back.
"Shutup, idgits," Bobby said peevishly. "Now listen up. Sam, you stay in bed," he ordered. "And you," he pointed a stern finger at Dean. "You stay on Sammy watch." Bobby did a military-styled about face. "I'll be back with the pink stuff." Bobby went to the door banged it open and banged it shut.
"Pink stuff?" Dean asked Sam.
"Calamine lotion," Sam took the washcloth off his forehead and tossed it on the floor, turning on his side to face away from Dean. Guh…my back itches." He fiddled about uncomfortably.
Dean reached a hand toward his brother's back.
"Don't touch me, Dean. I know where your hands have been."
"Fine." Sam closed his eyes.
A few minutes of silence ticked by.
"Sammy," Dean called.
"Mmmm," Sam mumbled sleepily.
"Can I put the pink stuff on my –"
"No." Sam shivered, scooting a little farther away from his brother. "Not unless you want your sea of tranquility to fall off. Now let me go to sleep, Dean."
"Just Peachy." Dean grumbled hitching himself up onto one elbow so that he could peer over at his brother.
It didn't take but a minute, before Sam's breathing softened and his muscles totally relaxed, his neck sinking deeper into his pillows.
"Sam?" Dean whispered.
Sam didn't answer. Didn't move.
"Hey, bro?" Dean called again a bit louder.
Nothing. Not an eye flutter or a twitch. Kid was sound asleep.
Scooting a tad closer, Dean examined Sam's face. His skin still held an edge of white too it, but his lips were pink and his expression was smooth.
"Rest easy, bitch," Dean cooed.
Sam flashed a brief reflexive smile in his sleep. The exact same way Dean remembered his baby brother smiling in his sleep when he was just two months old –all sweet and dreamy and full of precious innocence.
Dean felt all warm inside as he rested a gentle hand on his brother's side, feeling the rise and fall of Sam's breathing. Satisfied the kid's respirations were normal and calm and slow he whispered ever so quietly, "I'm watching out for you, Sammy."
Sam gave an opened mouthed smile this time, still obviously sound asleep.
Dean lay back down on his own pillow. "You better not have gas, dude."