Summary: Sam learns that carnival food is not to be trusted. Missing scene for ELAC.
Categories: Gen, Hurt/Comfort (Limp!Sam/Protective!Dean), Angst, Humor, Missing Scene
Word Count: 2,129
Spoilers: Hell House, In My Time of Dying, Everybody Loves A Clown
Disclaimer: I don't own them. Kripke does. I'm just borrowing them 'cause they're so much fun to play with.
Note: Most people who know me know how much I love this episode, and our boys in this episode. I was inspired to write this story after getting sick as a result of carnival food myself, although luckily I wasn't quite as sick as Sam was. A huge thanks to sendintheklowns for looking this over for me!
“Ohhhhh, God,” Sam moans from his bed inside a motel room in Medford, Wisconsin. A motel room which, thankfully, isn't covered top to bottom in clown décor. He feels his stomach clench and twist in pain and an overwhelming feeling of nausea.
“Never again. Never, ever again.” He's referring of course to the chili dog he mistakenly ate at the carnival where he and Dean got jobs to hunt down a homicidal clown. Okay, so Dean had talked him into it. More like forced him into it because he hadn't eaten much in a while. But really, what can you do when you suddenly feel famished and there's nothing else for you to eat? Given all that had happened recently, he hadn't felt like eating very much. He conceded the stress itself wasn't good for his stomach.
But that chili dog. Why, oh, why hadn't he had second thoughts? The hotdog itself was yellow. Yellow. Who knows how long it had been sitting there, stewing in that bucket of ... hotdog water. Then there was the chili. It just didn't taste right. It'd been a while since Sam had had chili. A while as in practically forever. He's not quite sure how it's supposed to taste, although he's sure it's definitely not like this. As he recalls the appearance and taste in such detail, his urge to vomit suddenly increases tenfold.
“If you're gonna hurl, want me to hold your hair back for you?”
Sam glares at his big brother seated at the table to the right of his bed. “Bite me. Never should'a let you talk me into that chili dog...”
Dean smirks. “Didn't stop you from inhaling it – Hoover.”
“Jerk. Couldn't help it. Was starving,” Sam mutters.
Dean's smirk disappears and his expression turns into one of concern. “When was the last time you ate anything?”
Sam manages a tiny shrug. “Dunno.”
Dean's expression for the most part is unreadable, although it seems like he's got something big on his mind that keeps nagging at him.
Sam's inquisitiveness briefly overtakes his nausea. “Dean?”
Dean shakes his head as if to clear away cobwebs. “I'm fine.”
“Uh huh...” This isn't anything new lately. Dean's been anything but 'fine.' Even now within the grip of this mystery illness, Sam can see it--
“Awww crap....” Before he can dwell on it further a huge wave of nausea hits him. He urgently rises from the bed, seeking out the bathroom.
“Think you're going to make it?” Dean asks, suddenly seeming concerned. “'Cause if you're not, I'll grab this.” He picks up the wastebasket next to the table.
Sam holds up a hand to stop him and runs doubled over to the bathroom. He falls in front of the toilet and pukes as if his life depends on it.
Sam blinks his eyes open and realizes he's back in bed again. What the hell happened? Last he remembered he'd thrown himself in front of the porcelain altar to vomit. He tentatively licks his lips and notices an acrid taste of bile and something else he can't quite make out. His gaze drops to his chest, which is covered by a blanket. Feeling a bit warm, he pushes it away and wrinkles his nose, noticing how his gray t-shirt is sticking to his clammy skin – clammy everywhere except for his forehead, which actually feels kind of cool and nice. Probably due to the damp cloth covering it.
He makes out Dean's unmistakable form in the darkness as he removes the cloth and brushes Sam's damp hair away from his forehead. “Hey, Sleepyhead.” There's just a hint of affection in his voice. “You alright?”
Sam sits up and takes a moment to assess his condition. He doesn't seem to feel the nausea anymore, which is a good thing. “Uh... better. Not nauseous but still kind of sore and weak.”
Dean nods and flips on the lamp on the wall next to the bed. The sudden intrusion of bright light makes Sam wince.
“Sorry. Want it off?”
Sam shakes his head. “No, no, it's okay.” He opens his eyes again, slowing getting them more accustomed to the light in the room. “What time is it?”
“About four,” Dean answers matter-of-factly. Four A.M. Whoa. He'd lost a few hours' time at least. “Once you puked your guts out, you started shivering a whole bunch and I led you back to the bed where you conked out. I skipped out to the Mini Mart on the corner and got you some of the pink stuff.” He heads for the table and gestures to a bottle of some generic form of Pepto Bismol. “Just in case you still felt the urge once you woke up.”
Sam nods thoughtfully. “What-?”
“Probably just food poisoning. Nausea, stomach ache, headache? All part of it.” Something on one of the chairs suddenly catches Dean's eye. “Oh, thought you might like to keep the bag ... as a souvenir.”
Sam feels his brow furrow into a frown as Dean bends down to pick up a brown paper bag and then hands it to him. A simple brown paper bag. Why the hell would he...?
Sam finally studies the object in his hands. His furrows disappear and a feeling of dread wells up inside him, almost akin to another wave of nausea.
A cheesy cartoon drawing of clowns smiling and holding balloons.
Sam musters all his strength to aim a bitchface in Dean's direction, wad the bag into a crumpled ball and clumsily hurl it at him.
Wow, it hits its intended target in the forehead. Not bad at all for having hardly any strength. “Hey!” Dean protests, pouting in a way Sam hasn't seen since they were kids. “Was only trying to help.”
Sam lets out a small chuckle and shakes his head. “Yeah. No thanks, Nurse Ratched.”
Dean's lip curls into a little sneer that doesn't hold for long as the corner of his mouth tugs upward and he concedes defeat, lowering his head and laughing. Sam, as weak as he's feeling right now, can't help but join in.
“Okay, maybe the clown thing was overdoing it ... a little.”
“Just a little?”
“Yeah, just a little,” Dean says jokingly.
Sam chuckles and shakes his head again.
Dean's laughter subsides and he looks at Sam with something akin to that overprotective, big brother concern of his. “Feeling better?”
“Ah, yeah... Just a little weak is all.” He runs a hand over the bangs that were probably askew all over his forehead.
Dean pats him on the shoulder. “Food poisoning, nothing more. Little more rest and you'll be back at it and showing the rest of those carnies what's what. Maybe Cooper will even make you Employee of the Month.”
Sam snorts softly. “Not likely. I have a feeling Papazian has that award secured for life.”
The two share a little laugh and then Sam looks up at Dean. “Thanks, man.”
“You know, just... for being here. I know with all the stuff going on over the past few-”
“No, Sammy, please,” Dean interrupts, holding up a hand. “It's okay. Just doing what I've always done. What Dad's always trusted me to do. Watching out for my little brother.” Some emotion passes over his face for a brief moment and then is quickly hidden behind the usual hardened facade. “Y'know,” he finishes with a slight shrug.
Sam can't think of anything to say and simply nods. Dean seems to be back in that overly preoccupied state of mind. Sam tentatively approaches him and starts to lay a hand on his shoulder.
His older brother flinches. “Please ... not now.” It almost sounds like 'Not yet.'
Sam feels bad but understands all the same. Dean's dealing with a lot in his own way. It's not a particularly healthy way, and he's going to get a big talk about it, but not just yet...
“Okay...” Eyeing the clown bag again, he changes tactic. “So this came from the Mini Mart, huh?” he teases. “Really? A paper bag with clowns on it?” He makes special note of the grease stains on the underside of the bag.
Dean sighs. “Okay, it didn't.” Sam raises his eyebrows, prompting him to explain. “I'd swung into the Burger Boss nearby for a bacon cheeseburger. Was about to chuck the bag, but you, know... I couldn't.” He grins with a twinkle in his eye.
“You suck!” Sam doubles over, laughing. His stomach muscles protest slightly with residual soreness, but he doesn't care. He crumples the bag up again and aims it at Dean, hitting him in the chest this time.
Dean catches it and stares at him stone-faced as if not affected at all ... before he takes the bag and throws it back at Sam. He seems intent on continuing this. “You know, I didn't just buy the pink stuff at the Mini Mart. Also picked up some Nair. And this time I've got good reason to use it.” He gestures to the tangled mop on Sam's head. “Better think twice before reaching for the motel shampoo, Sammy.”
“You really don't want to get into this again,” Sam warns him.
“Oh, no?” Dean challenges.
“Beer bottle? Super Glue?”
Dean doesn't appear to have an answer to that one. His gaze drops to his hand, marked by a scar as a result of their last prank war. He shrugs. “Okay, I give. For now.”
Sam smiles smugly. No way could Dean beat him. He had some ingenious ideas – Sam had to give him that. But Sam had learned to outwit him over the years. His thoughts turn more self-deprecating as his smile changes to a smirk. “I would've thought getting me to eat that awful thing and the results of it would be enough for you.”
Dean appears as if he's going to smirk but shakes his head instead. “Nah. Come on. I guess the chili dog wasn't the greatest thing in the world to eat, but it's all they had at that carnival that looked even half edible. I figured it'd do the least damage.”
“Oh. Well, thanks for that.” It might have come out sarcastic, but he meant it to be at least a little sincere.
“I should talk to Cooper and tell him he should focus on winning his customers over, not trying to kill them. Wonder if he'd listen to a lowly carny – a lowly carny with dashing good looks, but all the same a lowly carny.”
Sam manages an eye-roll and grins. “I don't think you'll get anywhere. He seems pretty set in his ways.”
Dean shrugs. “No harm in trying.”
“Maybe we should focus on more important things? Like the killer clown?”
“Okay,” Dean nods, but he isn't done yet. “Still doesn't change that you needed to eat something, bro. I need you sharp, and alert, and, and ... healthy.” His expression changes, becoming 'lost' once again. “Can't lose you t- ..... Can't lose you.”
Sam blinks at him and nods. It's all he can really do at this point. Well, almost all. “Thanks.”
Dean appears to force a quick smile, as if to stop the impending 'chick flick moment' in its tracks. “So! I guess we've both learned a big lesson in all this.”
Sam can see right through it, but he dares not prod. He joins Dean and runs with it. “Stay away from carnival chili dogs. Even if you're starved to death and it looks like a good idea, it probably isn't.”
“That's my boy.” Dean grins, and this time it doesn't seem forced at all.
Sam feels his eyes widen as he's struck with an idea. “You know something? When we go back there, I think I'll find some scraps of wood and make a sign for the food cart: 'Chili Dogs: Approach With Caution.'”
Dean laughs. “You do that, Sammy.”
Sam smiles triumphantly. Granted, it had nothing to do with this case, but he might just save a few lives, or digestive systems in the least. Not only that, but he and his brother had just experienced a moment of good old normalcy while their lives had been anything but normal recently. Well, their definition of normal, anyway.
As Dean plops down on his bed and reaches for the TV remote (presumably to check out pay-per-view), Sam grabs a change of clothes and his carny uniform jacket. With renewed energy, he gathers them into a neat pile at the corner of his bed and heads for the shower, attempting to wash away the last remnants of his sickness and any obsessive thoughts about Dean and their current situation. Today was going to be an alright day.
Food-poisoning-inducing chili dogs be damned.