Today's my birthday, so I'm going ahead and posting this. It was originally published in Rooftop Confessions 6. Please do a birthday girl a favor and leave me a review to read! Enjoy!
Take a Midol and Call Me in the Morning
"Guh!" Dean doubled over with a grunt, clutching his abdomen as he struggled not to topple out of the neon orange plastic chair he was sitting in, compliments of the Sunnyside Emergency Room.
"Y'okay, man?" Sam asked, concerned. He set aside the forms he'd been filling out while they waited to be seen and leaned forward to see Dean's face, trying to gauge whether he needed to run for the doctor.
"No, I'm not okay, Sam," Dean snapped. "Feels like someone's ripping me open with a friggin' fireplace poker. How could I be okay? It hurts."
"Well, that's why we're here," Sam soothed. "To find out what's wrong." Of its own volition, his hand reached out to rub Dean's back, trying to ease his brother's pain. The glare Dean gave Sam made him re-think the blatant comfort, and he removed the offending appendage before Dean could rip it off and beat him over the head with it.
Dean slowly sat back up again, trying to look normal, though his skin was unnaturally flushed and he moved gingerly. "It's odd that it came on so suddenly," Sam mused aloud, trying to analyze the situation so he could find a solution. "I mean, we know it wasn't anything you ate—we both had the same thing for lunch and I'm fine. No symptoms at all."
"Thanks for pointing that out, Sam." Dean cast a sour glance in his little brother's direction.
Sam had the grace to look sheepish. "Sorry, Dean. I just can't figure it out. We've been together all day and nothing unusual's happened. And it's not like we're in the middle of a hunt. We've just been drifting since that case wrapped a few days ago. Otherwise, I'd wonder if something was doing this to you. It's just weird."
Dean grunted at that, though whether in pain or agreement was difficult to tell. "If you ask me, my symptoms are what's weird. On top of everything else, I feel like I've swelled up or something. Even my jeans are tight. And not in a good way," he clarified. He waited expectantly but Sam stayed silent, apparently mystified by this revelation. Dean frowned at his brother's failure to grasp the injustice of the situation and be appropriately outraged on his behalf. "Dude, these are my lucky jeans!" he complained. "I took out a wendigo in these jeans." He fingered the worn denim almost mournfully. "D'you think that witch shrunk 'em? I knew we shouldn't trust a witch with our laundry. I told you, Sammy. Freakin' witches. First they off the rabbits, then it's on to a guy's favorite pair of jeans. Where's it all end, Sam?" He gave a world-weary shake of his head.
Sam valiantly refrained from rolling his eyes at Dean's dramatics. And Dean called him a drama queen? At least the conversation seemed to be keeping Dean's mind off the pain, so he went along with it. "It's laundry, Dean, not Dad's journal. Just clothes," he couldn't help pointing out. "Besides, she was trying to do us a favor—repay us for our help on that case. We couldn't just refuse. Anyway, I thought it was nice. I like wearing clothes I didn't have to wash myself."
"I know," Dean grouched, giving him another sour look.
Sam sighed. "Not this again. I told you, I did the laundry last time. It's your turn!"
"I don't remember you doing laundry," Dean said stubbornly.
"Yeah?" Sam challenged. "Maybe that's because you were unconscious at the time. Getting slammed into a cliff face by a werig often has that effect. You were out for three days, Dean! When I finally got tired of watching you drool into your pillow, I ran out to take care of the laundry." In truth, Sam hadn't been able to stand looking at the blood-encrusted clothing any longer, knowing the sacrifice it represented.
"So you supposedly did the laundry while I was unconscious?" Dean asked, clearly skeptical. "That's convenient," he muttered.
"Actually, no, it wasn't," Sam said hotly, remembering the desperation that had driven him from the hotel room. He'd had to do something more than just wait and worry about whether Dean would ever wake up. He'd finally convinced himself that when, not if, his brother woke up, he'd want clean clothes to wear, and had attacked the task with a vengeance. "It wasn't convenient, Dean," he stressed again. "So why don't you try not jumping in front of me next time? I'm a big boy, Dean. I can take care of myself!" He punctuated this statement with an exasperated glare.
"Yeah, yeah." Dean just waved off Sam's very valid point. A grimace of pain crossed his features and he wrapped his arms around his abdomen again, his face graying out as he tried not to throw up from the sudden nausea.
Sam sighed, deflating. It was hard to maintain his annoyance when his big brother was clearly in pain. Besides, there was no point. Dean would never change. He would always be the stubborn, self-sacrificing jerk that Sam had known his whole life. Sam had no doubt that even if they lived to be ninety, Dean would still treat him like a kid brother who needed to be protected at all costs. It was just the way Dean was made. And really, it was kinda endearing. Inconvenient and annoying, yeah, but…endearing, too, that he cared so much.
"So, we're pretty sure it was the witch, right?" Dean persisted, bringing him back to the conversation. "That shrunk my jeans? Freakin' witches," he muttered darkly.
"Maybe you just gained some weight," Sam suggested dryly. "It happens."
Dean looked at him as if he were speaking another language. "Impossible," he finally declared. "This here?" He patted his flat tummy, grimacing a little when another pain hit him. "All muscle, Sammy." He gave his brother a smirk that almost had him looking like normal.
Sam snorted. "Impossible, Dean, really? With the way you eat?"
"Hey!" Dean looked offended. "So I enjoy my food. So what? I'll have you know I get plenty of exercise." He gave Sam a conspiratorial grin and waggled his eyebrows. "If you know what I mean."
Sam did roll his eyes this time. "Yeah, yeah. You're a real ladies' man. Wonder how the ladies feel about love handles?" he teased, expecting Dean to come back with a growled "I did not gain weight, Sam," or even a cocky "Chicks dig love handles, little bro."
What he did not expect was for Dean to go from his normally cocky, brash self to insecure and uncertain in a heartbeat. "You think I'm fat?" he asked, looking hurt.
Sam froze, a deer-in-the-headlights look glazing his eyes. He felt off-balance by the sudden shift in Dean's mood. It had just been banter, same as always, and all of the sudden, it was like he'd stepped on a landmine. Dean looked really upset, and since when had Dean ever cared about his weight? What was going on with his brother?
When Sam didn't immediately respond, Dean persisted, clearly not willing to let it drop. "It's the jeans, isn't it? You think these jeans make me look fat?" he demanded, his voice anxious.
Without conscious thought, Sam automatically shook his head, an ingrained response left over from his time with Jessica. That particular question always warranted a denial, without exception. He'd learned that the hard way. Dean frowned at him, obviously doubting the sincerity of his knee-jerk response. Grasping desperately for a change of topic, Sam said, "Let's go through your symptoms again. There's gotta be something there."
Dean sighed, slumping a little in the uncomfortable chair, but complied. "Abdominal pain. Nausea. Exhaustion. Elevated temp. Half the time, I'm tryin' not to throw up; rest of the time, I'm starving. I feel like a blimp. I'm really sore and achy all over, and dude—" Dean looked around to make sure no one was listening and lowered his voice to a mere whisper, "even my nipples are sore." He crossed his arms defensively over his pecs and looked miserable.
Sam was taken aback by this newest revelation. "Ooookay…well, whatever it is, I'm sure the docs'll be able to take care of it, Dean." He paused, trying to shake the mental image that had sprung into his brain. "And man, just—TMI, okay? No more talking about nipples," he said sternly. "Just…try not to worry." Lame, as far as advice went, but it was all he had at the moment. For his own part, Sam couldn't help but worry. Dean was admitting to being in pain? Worrying about his weight? Talking about his…Sam shuddered, cutting the thought off. It was like he'd fallen into an alternate universe. One he desperately wanted out of. Right. Now.
"How can I not be worried, Sam?" Dean hissed. "My whole body's out of my friggin' control," he ranted. Then he stopped, abruptly looking remorseful. "Sorry. I shouldn't be yellin' at you. I know you're just tryin' to help."
"Uh, don't worry about it, Dean." Sam shifted uncomfortably in his chair. Dean never apologized—not with words, anyway. This whole thing was creeping him out. "I know you're…not yourself."
"No, don't make excuses for me, Sammy. Not this time," Dean said, shaking his head mournfully. "I friggin' ruin everything," he said in self-disgust.
Sam's eyes widened in alarm at the direction this conversation was headed. "Really, Dean, it's fine," he insisted, hoping to head off further emo outbursts Dean was sure to regret later.
"Don't know why you even stick around," Dean continued, as if he hadn't even heard Sam. The overhead fluorescents caught a slight glimmer in Dean's eyes. Sam did a double-take. Those weren't…surely they couldn't be…tears?
Nonplussed, Sam struggled with helplessness. But he had to say something, had to address the unasked question. He couldn't just leave Dean feeling like this. "You're my brother," he said simply. In the end, that's all there was.
Dean turned wet eyes on him and saw the truth of the statement in Sam's face. He grabbed his little brother in a fierce hug.
Sam froze in shock, but allowed himself to relax into the hug. He patted Dean's back awkwardly, while trying not to hyperventilate. Dean was hugging him? Voluntarily? Without one of them dying first? That was so not like Dean. He felt a shaft of panic pierce him, threatening to unravel his calm. This whole situation was freaking him out. He couldn't stand it anymore. He had to do something. He gently pulled away from his brother, feeling his desperation grow. "Listen, man, is there anything I can do? Anything you need?" he asked urgently.
Dean sniffled, then looked thoughtful. "Chocolate?" he said tentatively, as if feeling the answer out himself.
Sam just gaped at him, too bewildered to speak.
"Yeah, that actually sounds really good," Dean decided, perking up. "You got any chocolate?" he asked hopefully.
"Wh-what?" That one word was all Sam could choke out. He suddenly knew how Alice must have felt when she woke up in Wonderland.
"Dunno." Dean shrugged, looking bemused. "Just feel like chocolate might make me feel better right now. Something gooey."
"Gooey?" Sam echoed blankly, feeling as if he'd lost the conversation—and his mind—somehow. What was going on here?
"They probably have something in the caf downstairs," Dean said helpfully. "And get me some hot tea while you're down there," he added after a moment's consideration.
Sam could practically feel his throat closing up in horror. This was worse than he'd thought. "Dean," he said slowly in his most calm, patient voice—the voice you'd use with someone balanced on a tightrope above Niagra Falls—because, Heaven help him, he did not want any more tears, "in all your life, I've never known you to willingly drink hot tea." He reached up to feel Dean's forehead and was even more disturbed when Dean actually allowed it. "You're a little feverish," he said worriedly. "Maybe I'd better go get a doctor."
He moved to do just that but Dean grabbed his sleeve, pulling him back down into the chair, and looking at him with imploring eyes. "You're just going to leave me here?" Dean asked pitifully. "Alone?"
Sam just gaped at him. This clingy stranger was not his stoic, confident, nearly-invincible big brother. "Christo," he muttered lowly.
Not low enough, though, because Dean heard him. "Did you just Christo me, Sam?" Dean asked, incredulous.
The hurt he could see beneath the accusation made Sam cringe. "Uh, I just thought… Uh. Better to be…" He squirmed uncomfortably in his chair and gave up with a sigh. "Yeah. Yeah, I did." He grimaced in apology.
"Well that's just great, Sam!" Dean exploded, though he was careful to keep his voice low in deference to the other ER occupants. "I'm sitting here, in pain, just tryin' to keep it together, and you accuse me of being possessed?"
"Well, it's just…you're not acting like yourself," Sam tried lamely to justify his behavior. "I mean, you're asking for chocolate, not wanting me to leave your side, and…it's just weird. What am I supposed to think?" He spread his arms in question.
"Wanting my brother with me when I'm in pain is weird, Sam?" Dean demanded, but then didn't give him a chance to answer. "Wanting something to eat when I haven't had anything in hours is weird? Wanting a little friggin' sympathy instead of logic when I'm sitting here, feeling like something's ripping me apart from the inside out, is weird to you?!"
He was so ashamed of himself that Sam couldn't hold his brother's gaze. When Dean said it like that, it didn't sound all that weird. He was always nagging Dean to let him help; it was just so unlike Dean to ever admit he actually needed anything in the first place. And now, the one time he did, Sam practically accused him of being possessed. He'd really screwed up.
"Sorry, Dean," he said sincerely. He held his breath, not sure what to expect with the volatile way Dean had been acting. Anything but the tears again, Sam silently pleaded. Dean could even take a swing if he wanted, just so long as Sam never had to see that look in his brother's eyes again.
But Dean just sighed wearily. "Forget it," he said, waving a hand as if to wipe the incident away. His face was still flushed from the low-grade temperature he was sporting, and now from the recent rant, as well. "I overreacted. I know you didn't mean anything." He rubbed his forehead. "Got the worst headache, all of a sudden," he muttered.
Like a chameleon, Dean was calm again, though clearly still not feeling well. Still, his anger had dissipated like a snowball in the sunlight. Come to think of it, Dean's moods had been swinging like a pendulum from one extreme to another all afternoon. Wait a minute…mood swings? That phrase kept rebounding in Sam's mind until it finally shook something loose.
"Hold on a minute, let me think. I might know what's going on." Sam went over the conversation he'd just had with his brother. It definitely wasn't anything supernatural they'd encountered, but Sam could swear he'd heard someone talking about the symptoms Dean was experiencing. He ran through them again in his mind. What could it be?
He thought about the mysterious ailment and the people they'd encountered recently, trying to fit it all together into a picture that made sense. And then the last piece popped into place and he had to bite back a smile, turning his chuckle into a cough. The relief he felt was nearly overwhelming. Dean was going to be fine. Physically, at least. Mentally, well…he might be scarred for a while. Sam snickered to himself, but made sure not to do so out loud.
"What?" Dean demanded, seeing dawning awareness on Sam's face. "You know what's wrong with me?"
"Um…" Sam couldn't hide the guilty grimace. "Yeah. Yeah, I think so. You, uh, remember that witch we were talking about? The one involved with our last case?"
"No, Sam," Dean growled with considerable sarcasm, "one of my symptoms is complete memory loss. Of course I remember! She shrunk my favorite jeans!"
"And uh…you remember how at one point you asked her if she was PMSing?"
"Yeah," Dean snorted. "Dude, she went crazy. Freakin' witches with their feminist issues."
"I'm pretty sure it's all women who hate that question, Dean, not just witches," Sam pointed out dryly.
"Yeah, well, what's that got to do with what's happening to me?" Dean insisted impatiently.
Sam cleared his throat nervously. His brother was not going to like what he had to say. "I think she, uh…found a way to get her revenge, Dean."
"What're you talking about?" Dean asked, confused.
Sam ticked the symptoms off on his fingers. "You're achy and sore, irritable, tired, emotional, bloated, having mood swings, craving chocolate…"
Dean let out a low groan as another wave of pain hit him, doubling him over.
"…and you're having cramps," Sam finished matter-of-factly. "Face it, man, she gave you PMS."
Dean looked horrified. "What?! No!"
"'Fraid so, Dean," Sam said, not without sympathy. "Trust me, I saw Jess go through it enough to recognize the symptoms. It didn't occur to me at first because, well…" he gestured to Dean vaguely with one hand.
"PMS? She can't do that! Can she? I mean, that's…that's—" He went from outraged to pitiful again in a matter of seconds, "—that's just mean."
"Sorry, man." Sam had to bite the inside of his cheek really hard to keep from laughing. He was a good little brother, he was. And right now, his big brother was hurting. There'd be plenty of time—the rest of their lives—to tease Dean about this. And after all the comments Dean had made about him being girly, he would. Oh, he definitely would. But now wasn't the time.
Sam stood and reached down to help Dean up. "C'mon, we need to get you out of here. They won't be able to help you." He got Dean to his feet, and, with his brother leaning against him, helped him out to the car.
Dean was breathing hard by the time they got there, the cramps hitting hard and fast every few minutes. "Chicks really go through this every month?!" he asked, appalled.
"Yeah. Some get it worse than others, but…yeah," Sam confirmed. "Jess…she used to get it pretty bad."
"What can we do?" Dean asked, sounding lost as he settled into the passenger seat. He turned to watch Sam get behind the wheel.
"First, let's get back to the motel," Sam said, smoothly pulling out of the parking space and heading in that direction. "We'll get you hooked up with a hot water bottle and some warm tea. That'll help with the cramps. Then I'll hit the drugstore, treat you to some chocolate and Midol."
"Midol? What's that?" Dean looked wary. "You sure it'll help?"
Sam nodded sagely. "Jess always said it was a wonder drug. She'd absolutely freak if we ran out when she was…you know. Sent me out once at four in the morning, in the middle of a storm, to get some. It'll help." He looked back over at Dean, who still looked worried. "Don't worry, man, you're in good hands. I have lots of experience with this. Trust me."
Dean's eyes looked watery again, though Sam couldn't tell if it was from the emotions or the cramps. "Thanks, Sammy." Emotions, then.
Sam just smiled sympathetically and patted Dean's arm. "No problem, big brother. You'd do the same for me. Only, well don't take this the wrong way, but…I really hope you never have to."
Dean just grunted, then looked horrified as an idea struck him. "You don't think she made me like this for life, do you?"
"Nah," Sam dismissed, though he wasn't quite sure that was true. The witch had been pretty ticked off at Dean. And witches weren't exactly known for being forgiving. Still, no reason to freak Dean out any more than he already was. "I think she knew you'd learn your lesson after just the once," Sam reassured, hoping he was right.
Dean sighed in relief.
"Still," Sam ventured. "Couldn't hurt to send flowers or something. Y'know, bury the hatchet."
"Sam, that witch gave me PMS!" Dean protested. "And ruined my favorite pair of jeans! And you want me to send her flowers?" he demanded.
Sam sighed, shaking his head. He'd just have to do it himself and sign Dean's name to the card. For both of their sakes. He couldn't take a lifetime of Dean with PMS.
Dean let out a hiss as another cramp hit him hard. Sam heard him curse through gritted teeth, something that ended with "freakin' witches." After a minute, the pain seemed to pass. He looked over at Sam with weary eyes. "This blows out loud, dude."
"I know," Sam said, promising himself that if the flowers didn't work, he'd take other, more drastic measures. One way or another, he'd get Dean free of this spell. Yeah, his brother could be insensitive at times, but he didn't deserve this.
Sam let out a sigh of relief when they pulled into the spot in front of their motel room, knowing that Dean's pain was nearly over. Like any good little brother would, Sam came around the car to help his brother out. "C'mon, Dean, let's get you settled in."
Hours later, Sam entered the hotel room, loaded down with duffels of now-clean laundry that he'd somehow gotten stuck washing, even though it definitely wasn't his turn. He cast a suspicious look at his sleeping brother, wondering if he kept getting hurt on purpose, just so he wouldn't have to do his fair share of the laundry. Sam dumped the bags on the bed furthest from the door as he considered the possibility. Reluctantly, he had to admit that, sneaky as Dean could be when it came to getting out of chores, his brother just had a penchant for getting hurt—usually while saving Sam's own butt, or in a misguided attempt to protect him from something.
Sam studied the sleeping form of his brother on the other bed. Dean was really out of it—he hadn't even stirred at the sound of Sam's entrance. The observation made him feel a little guilty for the snicker he'd had earlier at his brother's expense. The day had obviously taken a lot out of him.
Dean was lying on his side, fast asleep, body curled around the hot water bottle resting against his abdomen. Chocolate wrappers were strewn around him on the bed like fallen soldiers on a field of battle. A nearly empty mug of herbal tea sat on the table beside the bed. Oddly enough, Dean appeared to be holding something in one outstretched hand, fingers curled around it in a loose fist. Curious, Sam leaned closer to get a good look. It was a jumbo-sized bottle of Midol.
Grinning and shaking his head, Sam set about straightening up the room. He poured the remaining tea down the drain and washed the mug, collected all of the chocolate wrappers and threw them away, and removed the water bottle from under Dean's arm before he could roll over on it in his sleep and burst it.
But when Sam went to retrieve the bottle of Midol to put it in the first aid kit, Dean's grasp on it tightened. Sam tried futilely to pry it from Dean's hand, but his brother had a death grip on the medicine. "Nuh uh," Dean finally grunted after Sam's third attempt, clutching the medicine tightly to his chest like a kid with a teddy bear. Sam couldn't help but snicker at that, but he let Dean keep his security blanket.
He stopped to spread an actual blanket over the sleeping figure and, satisfied he'd done all he could for now, went over to his laptop. Sam quickly booted it up and found the page he needed, downloading the song he'd chosen while doing laundry. It was perfect. Dean would have a fit when he heard it. Which was kinda the point, after all.
Sam smirked at the thought of his brother's face when the song blared from the Impala's speakers. Really, Dean could hardly blame him. After all, antagonizing and taunting were the two staples in any little brother's job description.
Oh yeah, this was gonna be good. Sam could hardly wait.
Three weeks later
"Dean, you didn't. Tell me you didn't!" Sam stared at his brother, aghast. Like watching a train wreck, he wanted to look away, but his horror kept him transfixed.
"What? I don't know why she flipped out," Dean said defensively. "All I said was that chicks shouldn't complain so much about giving birth. I mean, we've had broken bones, dislocated joints, gunshot wounds, been tortured, for heaven's sake—you don't hear us complaining. It's just labor—how bad could it be?"
Sam blanched. "Oh, Dean," he groaned, covering his face with his hand. "No. No, no, no, no, no. This isn't happening. Not again!"
"What'd I do?" Dean asked, expression all innocence.
"Did you learn nothing from last time?" Sam demanded. "PMS? Hello, ringing a bell?"
"Oh, chill out, Sammy. Not even a witch has the power to make me pregnant," Dean scoffed. "Besides, it's gonna be a good day, dude. I can feel it. Check it out." He did a slow twirl in front of Sam, gesturing down at his pants. "Dude, it's my lucky jeans!" Dean beamed, looking like he'd just won the lottery. "I don't know what you did when you washed 'em, but they fit again! This is awesome!" he said happily. "Best day ever." He grabbed his bag off the bed and headed out toward the parking lot, practically bouncing as he walked toward the Impala, which gleamed brightly where it waited for him, loaded and ready for action. "Get the lead out, bro!" he called back over his shoulder. "We got creatures to kill!"
Sam sighed, pulling out his cell phone and scrolling through the numbers there for the newest addition to his contact list. "Hello, is this 'Flowers by Flora'? I need to place an order. A big one." He grabbed his bag and started out to the car while she went through his choices, not wanting to miss what came next.
From outside, the Impala's engine rumbled to life. Immediately, easily heard though the open windows, country music blared out of the speakers at full volume. "Man! I feel like a woman!"
Sam burst out laughing, watching through the window as Dean tried frantically to turn the volume down or eject the tape. Neither would work, Sam had seen to that. He laughed harder, tears streaming from his eyes. Oh yeah, the wait had totally been worth it, to see this look on Dean's face.
Until, that is, Dean looked up and saw him standing there, laughing so hard he could barely breathe. "Sam!" he roared, and reached for the door handle, catapulting himself out of the car.
Sam dropped his bag and ran as fast as his long legs could carry him.