TITLE: Time Traveler's Flu (in which Dean Gets Cuddled by Sheriff Mills)
CHARACTERS: Sam, Dean, Sheriff Mills
A/N: Tag to 7.12. Idea somewhat stolen from maypoles. Sorry/thanks!
SUMMARY: Time travel is hard on the system. Sam and Sheriff Mills impose some downtime on sickie-Dean, and reminisce.
In the morning Sam finds Dean sitting on the edge of the bathtub, peering abstractedly into the hole in the floor as he brushes his teeth. His face his pale, his throat dappled with strawberry bruises.
"Hey," Sam says, reaching for his own brush. He coaxes toothpaste from the wrinkly tube and shoves the bristles into his mouth, gaze running over his brother as he scrubs his own enamel.
Dean waves weakly, gets up and spits into the stained marble sink. He scoops water into his mouth with a cupped hand, pressing into the wall with the other. Sniffling, he wipes his mouth and nose on his bare arm.
He steps toward Sam, who's blocking the path around the gap in the floor, and Sam starts to move, but changes his mind, puts a hand on Dean's chest. It's warm through his shirt, and Sam frowns.
Sam leans over and empties his mouth of minty foam. "How you holding up?"
Dean makes a show of rolling his eyes, but he's gripping the square edge of the basin with both hands. "No heart-to-hearts before coffee, Sam."
"Remember when you went back and saw Mom, and then you got the flu right after?" Sam sets down his toothbrush without rinsing it, examines Dean's bloodshot eyes. "And then after Samuel Colt, it was the same thing."
"Caffeine. I'm serious."
"Headache's that bad?" Sam clasps his brother's shoulders and guides him past the hole, then steers him down the hall toward the good bedroom, the one Sheriff Mills has just vacated.
"Whoa, whoa." Dean's voice is breathy from last night's strangulation. "Bossy McHustlepants. Naptime can wait. We've gotta jet."
"Dick Roman's gonna give plenty of speeches, Dean. We can afford to miss this one."
"Well, I don't want to," he wheezes, shuffling along under Sam's arm.
"Last time you had time traveler's flu, you threw up in the car and it stank for a month." Sam releases Dean and corners him against the wall with the sleeping bag. "A month."
Dean's eyes are bright with anger, but before he can retaliate, Sheriff Mills' voice from the doorway draws their focus. "Am I interrupting something?" She's got her coat on, purse slung over her shoulder. She holds up her car keys. "Breakfast run. Any special requests?"
"Coffee," Dean rasps.
She frowns at Dean for a long moment, turns to Sam. "Did I overhear something about time traveler's flu?"
"Ask the guy with the fever."
"Look, this is all very touching, but there's a Leviathan douchewad making a public appearance this afternoon and I want a front row seat."
"Fever?" The sheriff brushes past Sam, passing him her bag. Testing Dean's forehead with the back of her hand, she whistles. Dean shoots Sam an affronted look over the top of her head. "Okay. I hate to do this, but I'm pulling rank. As your elder, I hereby order you climb into that sleeping bag and stay there until further notice. Do I make myself clear?"
Dean swallows. Sam gives him a startled shrug.
"Yes ma'am," he says at last, bending down stiffly and stuffing his legs into the bag. She squats beside him, chases a sweaty strand of hair off his forehead and pats his shoulder.
"At ease," she murmurs. Standing, she reclaims her purse and heads for the door, car keys jingling.
Dean coughs sharply into the pillow, grunts and plants a palm across his eyes. "How come you never get time traveler's flu?"
Stretched out on the bedroom's dirty grey carpet, Sam's polishing off his second bacon-egg biscuit and debating the third, which the sheriff - Jody - apparently expects him to eat. Dean's pasty-faced in his makeshift bed, getting intimately familiar with the hot water bottle Jody's brought him. She's parked herself against the wall by his pillow, one hand wrapped around a paper cup of coffee, the other playing idly with Dean's hair. He's taken his medicine and Sam can see it kicking in, the pain lines in his face smoothing out, eyelids getting heavy. The sheriff picks up his half-drunk cup of tea and moves it to her other side so he won't knock it over in his sleep.
"You hit a home run with that ginger tea," Sam comments.
Jody scratches lightly at Dean's scalp, looks to Sam. "It's the number one home remedy for time traveler's flu."
"Apparently," Sam chuckles. They share a smile. "Seriously though. There was this one time when we were kids, and we were staying at Bobby's." Her expression flickers and Sam goes quiet for a moment. "Dean got sick..." Dean's squinting at him, fighting to stay awake. Sam shakes his head as he remembers. "He barfed all over Bobby's desk. There was a manuscript from the 1300s... this guy right here nailed it. Ugh, it was friggin' nasty." Dean mumbles something unintelligible and the sheriff strokes his temple. "He got this look on his face right after. Just devastated. He loved Bobby... we all loved Bobby. He was so worried about what the old guy was gonna say." Jody rubs up and down the back of Dean's neck and he nuzzles into her thigh. "So I go and get him, and I bring him into the room, and he sees the mess, and Dean with his face all zombie-white and his eyes bugging out... and he goes right for Dean. He crouches down in front of him and puts a hand on his shoulder, and he says, 'Better out than in, kid.' And he takes him upstairs and gives him a bath, and puts him to bed with a cup of ginger tea."
Sam flips his third foil-wrapped biscuit over on the carpet, picks idly at the wrapper. "That tea worked like magic. Dean fell asleep, and when he woke up he felt better. Bobby gave him some to take home and he stashed it away somewhere, somewhere in his stuff, because after that, whenever I got sick, bam, there was a cup of that stuff in front of me." Sam picks up the sandwich and peels it, raises it in a toast. "Ginger tea."
Dean jerks in his sleep, then rolls onto his back with a sigh and a businesslike frown. Jody rests her palm on his brow and for a few seconds she doesn't move. Her eyes, when she looks up, are glistening. She lifts her coffee high. "To ginger tea."