The System

Prompt: Dean pretends he's pretending to have a cold, and Sam pretends he's pretending to worry.

:::

"Hh-hahh... HH-hah... hh-HH-HKTCH!"

"Bless you," Sam and the interviewee say at the same time.

Dean wipes his palm on his suit pants, faltering as the good fabric registers against his skin but soldiering through. He smiles at the old woman and accepts the proffered tissue.

"I'm sorry," she says to Sam, "what was the question?"

Sam repeats it as Dean blows his nose, wipes it and snuffles and sneezes again.

"Goodness," the lady says, extending the Kleenex box again across the gap between their armchairs. "Have you got a cold?"

"Uh," says Dean. He flattens the fresh tissue bashfully against his knee, folds it in half and then in half again. He sniffles wetly. "I dunno. Maybe."

She narrows her eyes at him and nods knowingly. She turns to Sam. "Tea time, wouldn't you say?"

:::

"How you feelin'?" Sam asks in the car, loosening his tie. "Pharmacy run?"

"What?" Dean chuckles, chokes on some phlegm. "Oh, that in there?" He waves at the witness' house, backs them down the driveway. The garage door fades into the night. "I was just pretending."

Sam looks at him. "You were pretending to have a cold?"

Dean soberly returns his gaze. "Got her talking, didn't it?"

:::

"WIGKSH! XXSH!"

"Bless you twice."

"Thagks," Dean says, scrubbing a napkin under his red nose, "but those wered't real."

"No?"

"I thigk our waitress is sweet odd bee."

"She did bring you free soup."

Dean raises his brows, sweeps a palm through the air. "Exactly."

"So you're making her think you're sick so she'll bring you free stuff?"

"All part of by pladd."

"All part of your plan."

:::

"Hey," Sam says, swiveling his barstool toward Dean's. "Not tonight, okay?"

Dean's watching the pool table intently with glassy eyes. He spares Sam a frown. "These guys are perfect."

"No." Sam watches Dean's knee bob up and down. Dean chews absently on his thumbnail and sniffs. Sam sneaks a hand to the back of Dean's neck and finds it fever-hot. He scratches lightly at the base of Dean's skull. "Just no."

Dean bats him away, scowling. "You worried about my fake cold?"

Sam sighs. "I'm fake worried."

:::

In bed, Sam spoons up close behind Dean. He pats his brother's chest, rests a possessive palm on his belly. Dean shivers and blows his nose for the millionth time.

"You're a really good actor," Sam deadpans. "I'd swear you had the flu."

"I'm pretty convincing, right?" Dean sneezes, his stomach muscles crunching up. He sighs. "Wanna know my secret?"

Sam listens to him pulling fresh Kleenex from the box. "Uh huh."

"It's the Stanislavski system."

"The Stanislavski system," Sam repeats.

"More commonly known as method acting," Dean supplies. "I studied the flu. I learned everything there was to know about the flu. And then I... hh-HH-HEDGH-shuh!"

Sam rubs his chest to comfort him.

"And then I became the flu."

"You became the flu?"

"I'm living it. I'm breathing it. I am the flu."

Sam ruffles Dean's hair. He leans over and kisses his temple.

"What's your excuse?" Dean asks. "Why are you fondling me?"

"Oh," Sam says. "Uh. I'm improvising."

"Improvising?"

"Yeah." Sam pulls the blankets up higher and smoothes them against Dean's front. "You and your method acting gave me some really great material. I couldn't just block what you were doing. It would have been bad improv."

Dean rolls to face him. He turns bright eyes on Sam's, then nuzzles his chin. "That was some good improv, soldier."

Sam snorts. He strokes down Dean's warm back. Dean cuddles down, burying his face in Sam's neck.

"All in the name of acting," Sam tells the bedside lamp.


Purgatory Cold

Prompt: One of the Leviathans catches a cold and sneezes on Dean. Dean ends up with the mutated cold from hell.

:::

"Hhh... hh-hh-huh... hh-HH-KXSHSHH! Ugh." Snuffling, Dean returns the gas pump to its stand. He pushes two fingers under his nose and gasps. "Hih-DJSHH-uh!"

"Bless you," Sam calls, jiggling the bathroom key on a stick as he crosses the lot.

Dean waves a dismissive hand. An itchy, dismissive hand.

Not so much itchy as burning.

Dean looks down at the fingers he sneezed on. They're weirdly flushed.

"Hey," he mutters, drifting toward the rest room on instinct. His hand flares into pain and he breaks into a jog. "Hey!"

Sam turns to him, holding the door open, about to go in.

Dean barrels past and shoves his hand under the tap.

:::

"Hh-hhhh. HH-HH-hhhhh."

Across the cafe table, Sam watches tensely as Dean fights down the sneeze. Dean's got six napkins in his hands. He's arranged them over his nose like a small fortress.

"You okay?" Sam asks as Dean sags in the bright sunlight. Dean nods but doesn't move the napkins.

:::

"AH-HUEGKSSHSHH!"

A handful of tissues catches the sneeze. Dean hurriedly drops them into the motel wastebasket and watches to see if the plastic melts.

His hand is fine.

He pulls up eight fresh Kleenexes and blows his nose.

:::

"So, Leviathans."

Dean looks up from wrapping fresh gauze around his burnt hand.

"That last one was sick."

Dean fiddles with the medical tape.

"I think you've got a purgatory cold."

"A purgatory co... hh-hh-DZSHSHSHHH!"

Sam lunges, plastering a dam of toilet paper to his face just in time.

Dean's eyebrows rise. "Splashback," he says, scrabbling at the wad. "Splashback!"

:::

"Hungry?" Sam asks as he pulls away from the bar.

Dean looks up from counting his brother's pool earnings. "You are so buying." He grins, and coughs, and Sam grins back, and then grins wider. Dean laughs and coughs and coughs some more and when he wakes up they're on the shoulder.

"Sam?" he says, listening to the windows crank down.

"Yeah," his brother answers, rough-voiced. "Yeah. I think you cough poison gas now."

:::

Tucked up in bed, Dean hacks into a plastic bag. He ties it off and Sam lobs it out the window. Then Dean pulls on bright green dishwashing gloves and blows his nose, careful of his burnt lip.

"I'b goigg to die," he tells Sam.

Sam strokes back his hair and gets another plastic bag.

:::

"Okay," Dean says, throwing his duffel in the trunk. "Let's never do that again."


Untitled

Prompt: Dean is suuuuper kitteny weak from some kind of scary surgery he's had recently, and very soon after Sam brings him home he catches a cold and every time he sneezes it nearly knocks him over completely (oh, yeah, he also refuses to stay in bed). Of course, Sam is a crazy hovering grabby-handed fool. But Dean loves him anyways.

:::

It's the middle of the afternoon when Dean opens his eyes, pale-faced and groggy.

"Hey," Sam says immediately. He stretches open his paperback and lays it face-down on the coffee table.

Dean blinks in his direction, his face set in a precautionary scowl. He inhales sharply and yawns, showing teeth.

"How you feeling?" Sam asks, checking his watch. He gets up pads across the faded carpet, swipes a bottle off the bedside table. He shakes it, dropping into the chair beside the bed.

Dean's up on one elbow, peering at the black cast that encases the other one. His mouth moves soundlessly and he clears his throat. "Morning."

Sam opens the bottle of antibiotic syrup and measures out a spoonful. The fake banana smell fills the room. "Open up," he says. He brings the spoon in close and Dean takes it in at the last second, closes his lips around it. He makes a face at the taste of it and Sam grimaces in sympathy.

Dean sniffs and goes back to squinting at his broken arm. "Had a dream."

"Yeah?"

"You were made out of spaghetti." Dean notices the bowl of grapes Sam's placed casually on the bedside table. He gazes at them in drowsy wonder.

Sam turns and picks some free of their stems. He turns back and Dean's asleep.

:::

Sam wakes up in the dark and reaches instinctively for the lamp. It lights up his brother on the other bed, perched at the edge, his head dipped forward. Dean straightens in the brightness and teeters a little in place.

"Dean," Sam says.

Dean nods at him. The pouches under his eyes are huge. "Sammy."

"What do you need, man?"

Dean coughs and clears his throat. "See a man about a horse."

Sam gets up, helps his brother to his feet. "You're due for a Vicodin."

Fretting his arm against the back of Sam's neck, Dean bursts into a loopy grin. "Nope."

:::

"Mmm," Sam groans, wriggling his belly against the mattress. Over the hum of the magic fingers he can hear Dean pausing in his chores. Then the sound of guns being dismantled resumes.

"I get it now," Sam expands. "I get why you do this."

"Yeah?" Dean sounds bored. "Why's that?"

"'Cause it feels amazing." Sam jiggles a handful of quarters. "Was it this good at the other places?"

The can of gun oil clacks as Dean shakes it. "You can start a survey."

:::

"HH-T-T-XXSHSHH!"

"Whoa," Sam says, getting to his feet as Dean catches himself against the kitchen counter. Sam watches his brother sniffle, the good hand supporting his weight, the bad hand dangling uselessly from his sling. He brings him a paper towel and stands in easy reach while the flush of the sneeze drains back out of Dean's face.

"Bless you," he adds as Dean blows his nose one-handed.

:::

"It's just a cold," Dean says, brushing down the suit on its hanger.

Sam thinks of Dean stretched across the front seat of the car, his head in Sam's lap. He thinks of his shocky-cool skin and the white bone poking up through his elbow.

He puts the cranberry juice on the desk beside Dean. "I know."

:::

"Hh-hhhhh. HHH-hhhh. Hh-hh-GHTCHH-huh!" The sneeze pitches Dean forward on the couch. He bangs his knee on the coffee table.

Sam sits down next to him and opens up the laptop. He puts it deliberately on top of his brother's research notes. "Old school or new school?"

Dean looks at him over a cupped hand. He sniffles.

Sam passes him a tissue. "Lugosi? Van Damme?"

There's some owlish blinking, as if the sneeze has made Dean dizzy. Sam pats his chest. "If only there was a way to harness the power of these sneezes. You could be a super-weapon."

Dean coughs and palms his forehead. He settles back against the cushions. "I think I have a fever," he mumbles, and pokes his nose into Sam's shoulder.

Sam presses his hands to Dean's face, his throat, his head.

:::

"Good news," Sam says, putting away his phone. "Hospital's got the results back. No infection."

Dean looks up from the bed, where he's drawing the Metallica logo on his black cast with a whiteout pen. "Told you."

Sam sits down on top of the covers. He admires Dean's handiwork. "I'm glad you're alive," he says suddenly.

Dean gives him an appraising look. "Okay. Thank you."

Sam traces gentle fingers along his brother's warm hairline. He grabs Dean's ear and wiggles it lightly. "Yeah."

He starts to get up, but Dean interrupts. "Hey, not so fast." Dean shakes the whiteout pen. "It's almost your turn."

Sam settles back against the headboard, his shoulder flush with Dean's. He turns and kisses his temple. Dean draws.