Word Count: 1800
Summary: Between cracked ribs and asthma exacerbated by a Christmas tree allergy, Dean is having a pretty crappy holiday. Sam tries to put a stop to it.
Warning: Nebulous time period, naughty language, Christmas tree abuse.
Note: I wrote this two Christmases ago but kept forgetting to post it. I think the original idea might have come from a prompt in a comment fic meme, but it’s been so long that I can’t remember. Hope you enjoy, and happy holidays!
Disclaimer: I made it all up.
Oh Christmas Tree
by wave obscura
“That’s it,” Sam declares, “That’s fucking it.”
Dean wants to ask Sam what the hell he’s talking about it, but with several cracked ribs and an asthma attack, he can manage little more than a moan, the forlorn bray of an aging donkey.
“That’s it,” Sam declares again, jumping out of bed, pawing through the darkness for his pants. “That fucking Christmas trees goes.”
They’re spending the night in a storybook-charming bed and breakfast called, unimaginatively, Bertie’s Bed and Breakfast, run by a woman named Bertie who is probably a hundred thousand years old. They’re here not out of desire to stay somewhere not-gross on Christmas Eve, but because it was the only place nearby when Dean could no longer stand to ride in the car.
“I don’t care how fucking much it costs,” he’d said, gingerly hugging his busted ribs and clenching his teeth, “Just stop somewhere, just fucking stop.”
Sam had been delighted by Bertie’s festive decor. She had fake snow on the mantle, hanging stockings, lights perfectly framing the windows, fragrant pine cones, roasting motherfucking chestnuts, whatever.
Dean knew they had a huge problem pretty much the second they dropped their snowy bags in the foyer. The odor of Christmas was like a fist in his throat-- the pine cones, some kind of noxious candy-cane scented candle, a mystery plastic-and-hot-cocoa stench--
“Should I get her to blow out the candle?” Sam asked when Dean began to choke.
“Not the candle,” Dean wheezed. “It’s the tree.”
Sam looked appropriately shocked. Dean had never had occasion to tell Sam how allergic he was to Christmas trees (which was pretty fucking allergic). It wasn’t like they’d ever had one growing up.
But they were here, had paid for the room, and Dean’s ribs were fucking killing him. So they excused themselves from Bertie’s Christmasy wonderland to hole up in their room, hoping the allergens wouldn’t follow them. Dean used his inhaler, swallowed an allergy pill and a pain pill, took a hot shower, drank a cup of hot tea (only because Sam threw a fit about it), and by the time they went to bed he was feeling okay, and was fairly hopeful that the allergy hadn’t followed them into the bedroom.
Well it had. Dean woke up some time past midnight, hacking, the hacking jarring his ribs so painfully that he nearly puked (but didn’t, because that would have been agony). His inhaler helped a little, but only for a few minutes.
“What the hell are you doing?” He gasped at Sam, who had put on a pair of striped pajama bottoms and was tying his shoes.
“I’m getting rid of the tree before you get any sicker,” Sam said.
“Don’t be stupid. How--”
“I’ll shove it out the window if I have to.”
“Let’s just go. To the ER.”
Sam shook his head. “We’re a hundred miles from the nearest hospital. You won’t make it. No. I’ll get rid of the tree and you’ll do a breathing treatment here, and get some rest, and if you still need it, we’ll go to the ER tomorrow.”
“I’ll use the little nebulizer. The one that plugs into the car lighter--”
“You sold it this summer. To that smelly asshole in Eugene who wanted to turn it into a bong.”
“You did,” Sam says. “I told you not to sell it, didn’t I?”
Dean doesn’t bother to answer, number one because Sam is a nagging bitch, number two he has to cough, which hurts so badly he has to tip over the edge of the bed and kneel on the floor and curl into a ball and try to cough oh-so-gently, and number three because Sam is absolutely right.
Dean can feel himself going cross-eyed because he’s not getting enough air; he’d be struggling even without the extra burden of cracked ribs. His whole head seems filled with snot, creating incredible pressure in his sinuses and behind his red, watering eyes. And he’s exhausted, really fucking exhausted.
Still, waking up the whole goddamn house by throwing a Christmas tree out the window seems like a shitty idea. Dean picks himself up off the floor, follows his brother out of the room, tries his best to beg Sam not to do it, but talking is difficult and painful.
So is walking. Sam catches him the doorway of Bertie’s great room just before he falls on his face.
Sam sits him up against the wall. “Back in a minute.”
Dean’s in and out for a while, how long he doesn’t know. But when he wakes, Sam’s shoving the mouthpiece of his nebulizer between his teeth.
“Can you hold that? Hold it in your mouth, Dean. Breathe, okay? Try your best.”
Dean bites down and breathes. His chest start to unclench. He watches Sam’s massive silhouette lift the entire tree with a grunt. The tree is eight feet, at least, its twinkling lights blurred tracers to Dean’s wet, swollen eyes. It’s topped by a gaudy silver star that looks a little too much like an angel blade.
Sam walks three feet with the tree, until he’s stopped by the pull of the string of lights. They’re still plugged in. He yanks, yanks again. The water at the bottom of the tree stand sloshes onto his shoes. He sets the tree on the floor, muttering “motherfucker” under his breath.
Dean snorts, the mouthpiece nearly falling to the floor.
“Don’t laugh at me,” Sam whispers. Dean doesn’t know why he bothers to whisper, because the nebulizer-- the extra quiet model that Sam was so goddamn proud of himself for finding-- is so loud that it’s going to wake the whole house anyway.
Sam yanks the cord from the wall and the Christmas tree goes dark. He opens the back door. Snow and freezing air blow into the room with a howl. Dean shivers. Getting tangled up in the Christmas tree skirt, Sam dumps the tree into the snow, several expensive-looking bulbs falling and shattering. He curses again. The house sits on a steep embankment and the Christmas tree slides down a mountain of snow and out of sight.
Down the hall, Dean hears voices and someone’s light turns on. Shit. He thinks about moving, where he doesn’t know, but anyway, his whole chest is still so tight and so painful that he stays where he is.
Breathing rapidly against the cold, Sam stomps back inside, closes the door behind him. He kneels down on the floor next to Dean, squeezes his shoulder.
“How you doing?”
“Better,” Dean answers honestly.
“What in the hell?” A voice says at the end of the hall. It’s some old guy in his boxer shorts, with silver cotton for chest hair. He pads down the hall in leather slippers.
“So sorry,” Sam says, “an asthma attack. But it’s fine now. Everything’s fine.”
“People are trying to sleep!”
“I know. I apologize. But--”
“Can’t you do that in your room?” The man’s voice booms much louder than the nebulizer. He’s going to wake the whole damn house.
Sam’s voice changes, any trace of apology drops away. “He’ll be done in a few minutes. Go back to bed.”
In a wave lights snap on, doors open and guests spill out into the hallway.
“What the hell is going on?”
“--I’m sorry, but--”
“My tree! My God, what happened to my beautiful tree?”
Oh shit. Bertie’s standing over the both of them. Dean instinctively tries to get up. They have to get the hell out of here. The pain in his ribs nearly knocks the air out of him.
Sam puts his hand lightly over Dean’s. “Easy, brother. Not yet. You just relax and breathe.”
Dean fades in and out.
“--making him sick,” Sam is explaining, “I had no choice.”
Dean spits out the mouthpiece. It falls with clatter on the wood floor. He opens his eyes, still swollen and blurry, but he can see it’s just Bertie and Sam now, standing over him talking.
“Let’s,” Dean croaks, “Sam. Let’s just go now. Bring her tree back and we’ll go.”
“I’ll pay, alright?” Sam pulls out his money clip. “There. One-fifty for the room, a hundred for the tree.”
“Some of those decorations were priceless!” Bertie wails. “Absolutely priceless.”
Dean phases out again. Some time goes by and then he feels his shirt being tugged. Time to get up. He holds tight to the lapels of Sam’s jacket and gets his feet underneath him. They stand up slowly, but at the end of it Dean’s got a headrush anyway, and has to cling to Sam just to stay upright. Sam props him against the wall, says he’ll be right back.
“It’s all just outside the door,” He’s saying to Bertie, “The tree is just outside that door there.”
“Why you-- you bring it back in here this minute!”
“Hire someone. I have to get my brother to the hospital.” Sam’s emerging from their room, bags slung over his shoulder. He bends to pick up the nebulizer.
Dean’s heart thumps from the medicine. His head pounds from all the Christmas smells. He swallows down a wave of nausea. It works this time, but next time he’s going to throw up.
“We’re leaving now, Dean. Can you walk okay?”
Dean’s not sure. Protecting his ribs with one arm, he takes one step forward, then another. He’s just a few steps from fresh air. Very very cold fresh air that will probably get his asthma going again, but fresh all the same, not hanging heavy and sickly sweet with the toxic odor of fake baking cookies and mint mocha and whatever the fuck else.
He slides gingerly into the passenger’s seat of the Impala, which smells faintly of dirty clothes and feet. He sucks in a wheezy breath. His lungs are still absolutely pissed about the Christmas tree. He’ll likely be in full respiratory crisis by the time they make it to the ER, but at least he’ll make it alive.
“This might be the worst Christmas ever,” he says as Sam slides into the driver’s seat and slams the door.
Sam nods. “But look.” He points to the side of Bertie’s house, where the Christmas tree has rolled down the embankment and into the front yard. The wind has picked up clumps of tinsel and garland that swirl majestically in front of the car, twinkling in the headlights.
“Magical,” Dean says, snorting a laugh.
Sam hits the gas and the brothers screech away, Bertie’s priceless Christmas bulbs crunching under the Impala’s wheels.