Itchy and Scratchy
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Family/Humor
Characters: Sam, Dean, Bobby (gen)
Warnings: a few bad words (see Characters)
Wordcount: 1100
Disclaimer: Not mine. If they were, they would get to stay in better hotels
Set anytime you like post-Season 1.

Sam wakes up absently scratching at his chin. He's not really thinking about why he itches, but if he were, he'd suppose it was from skipping a day shaving.

When he and Dean stop for lunch at a diner and he's digging at his wrists with blunt fingernails, he doesn't really think about it then, either. They're in mosquito country, and a little itching goes with the territory.

Spending the evening sitting at his laptop and abrading his calves through his jeans, he dimly wonders if he'd accidentally bought wool blend socks, or picked up some spiny little burrs kicked up in a weedy parking lot, or something.

Denial is impossible to maintain the following morning, when he can no longer ignore the fire spreading beneath his skin and he looks at himself in the bathroom mirror to find a rash extending across his shoulders. It's unexpected, what with the multiple layers of clothing that generally protect him from mosquitoes, ticks, and spiders. He doesn't know what's causing this, and he hasn't been this itchy since . . . since they'd been hunting the tulpa and Dean had pranked him. But they weren't starting that again, were they? Sam leaves the bathroom to assess/accuse his brother, only to find Dean trying to gouge the skin off his own forearm.

"You too, huh?" Sam's mood changes instantly once he realizes this is a shared misery.

"Me too what?" Dean can be articulate, but not before he gets his morning coffee.

"The itching. I've had it since yesterday, at least. I guess it's bug bites?"

"How can it be from bugs? We both wear like nine layers of clothing, and I haven't seen or heard anything sharing the motel with us. It's not like you can even sleep with skeeters in the room, Princess," Dean snorted.

Sam grudgingly acknowledges this, "Okay, okay," and added, "Is it just me, or are these marks in a straight line? Like they were part of a pattern or something?"

"Yeah," says Dean, reluctantly, not liking this at all. What unseen sinister force was using their skin as a canvas?

Sam follows up on Dean's unspoken thought. "Have we pissed off any witches lately?"

"Not that I know of. It's been months since we've crossed one. Pretty long wait to spring a trap, dontcha think?"

"OK, something else, then. Uh . . . ."

Both men rack their brains, rapidly suggesting and discarding various theories. Too subtle for demons, too corporeal for ghosts, too mundane to be the fae.

Having exhausted all possibilities, they agree they will have to call in reinforcements, otherwise known as Bobby.

Unsurprisingly, the older hunter was less than excited about a research project that entailed Sam and Dean emailing him rather candid photos of themselves. On the other hand, he sounded unnecessarily amused by the time he called them back a couple of hours later. It was Dean that picked up the call.

"What demonic SOB is responsible for this?"

"And 'hello' to you, too."

"Aw, c'mon, Bobby, we're suffering here." It was true. Dean sat down on the bed while awaiting the answer. Also, so he could scratch his ankle.

"Well, the good news is that it's definitely not demons, witches, or fairies."

"Yeah, we kind of . . . "

"Y'all have bed bugs, son."

"What?"

"I said, you have bed bugs."

Dean jumped off the bed and started twitching.

"Uh, what do we do about that?"

"How the hell would I know? I'm a hunter, not the Orkin man."

After getting off the phone with Bobby and relaying this less that awesome development to his brother, Dean stood by, literally, while Sam cranked up the laptop.

Sam started reading aloud. "'Dwellings can become infested with bed bugs in a variety of ways, such as . . .' huh . . . 'visiting an infested area (apartment, subway, movie theater, or hotel) and carrying the bugs to another area on their clothing, luggage, or bodies. Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human blood. They are usually active at night when people are sleeping,'" continued Sam.

Dean shuddered. "So they're like tiny little vampires then? Like I said, demonic. Does it say how to get rid of them?"

Sam went on. "Natural enemies of bed bugs include the masked hunter insect, also known as 'masked bed bug hunter.' Hey, another kind of hunter!"

"Sam, we are not fixing this by adding more bugs!"

"Uh, ok, well, it says here bed bugs tend to nest and lay their eggs in the seams of fabric - so we'll have to either thoroughly wash or else throw away all our clothes."

Dean grudgingly allowed that having to wash his favorite Metallica tee shirt in super hot water sucked, but was preferable to the alternatives.

"And . . . " Sam trailed off, and frowned.

"What? Like this can get any worse."

"We'll have to check the Impala, too. We've been carrying them around for a couple of days, they're probably in the upholstery."

Dean was speechless, and the expression on his face prompted Sam to stop reciting bedbug facts and to start looking for another motel.

Sam opted for laundry duty, once a close look through a magnifying glass confirmed that yes, the bed bugs had left little spots of blood in the car, and Sam couldn't take any more of an outraged Dean muttering "They're bleeding on my seats?!" Much to Sam's consternation, his brother was repeating this loudly enough to be heard over the sound of the carwash vacuum, to which Dean had surrendered his entire stash of quarters - usually reserved for motels featuring "Magic Fingers" - to feed the machine in a frantic attempt to rid his baby of what he was referring to as "the plague." Sam concluded that he himself would be better off spending his afternoon in the laundromat following up on the research indicating that "psychological effects" were one of the possible symptoms of bed bug bites. Both men were ignoring voicemails from Bobby asking whether or not they were done with their current hunt. And they were definitely too busy to work out how the man managed to insert airquotes - they both despised the things - around the word "hunt."

Eventually the brothers got out of their very clean car and entered their very clean motel room and settled down in their very clean sleep clothes.

"'Night, Dean."

"'Night, Sam."

"Sleep tight."

"Sam . . . " Dean growled warningly.

"Don't let the . . "

"Sam!"

"'Night, Dean."

"'Night, Sam."

END

A/N - Sam is getting his bed bug intel from Wikipedia.

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