Rating: PG - Gen - Humor
Spoilers: General (for aired episodes only)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Dean + Airplane = Bad Times for Sam (but good times for us)
Sam scrubbed his face with another double hand full of water and tried to breathe.
Squeezing his eyes closed, he conjured long serene visuals of peaceful beaches. Floating unfettered in a pool. Warm gentle sunlight. All that shit.
The room echoed around him with the flush of toilets, the on and off automatic sinks, hand dryers and the steady drone of the announcement system for all the gates that lay just outside the doors. Some guy in a tweed business suit settled down at the sink next to him and unabashedly started trimmed his beard down into a suitable metrosexual rating. A man on his left pulled his toothbrush out of his fanny pack and was going at it like he was in his own bathroom.
These types of places did that to people Sam supposed. Forced your most intimate acts right out into the public places of use. Pushed your hygiene and your eating all along the same moving mass of people that were waiting and watching just like you were. Everyone was following the red digital numbers that made their departure time the one and only thing that mattered.
It hadn’t been easy getting in here.
Sam knew that the average citizen couldn’t walk these broad towering halls without almost going through a full body cavity search first. Places like this, well, it made their work all that more tricky. Surprisingly enough, some of what they needed could be shipped even within the airline itself if it was cataloged and checked appropriately. It also probably red marked their names for any future flights for the rest of all time.
But that was okay. Sam wasn’t ever planning on using this particular name ever again anyway.
Security had been nerve racking. Despite everything they had discussed before and his own personal search of his brother’s person he thought for sure that something would go wrong. Sam had half expected at any moment for Dean to be taken down by a team of German Shepherds and the rattle of automatic machine gun fire.
But nothing had happened.
Dean had even put his boots up on the conveyor belt without so much as a sneer in the wary security guard’s direction. Of course the bottle of water he had just scored for almost ten dollars was a completely different story. Sam had snatched it from him while he was in the middle of really letting go on the much shorter but very well armed woman who was staring him down as best she could.
The sound of the water filled plastic hitting the bottom of the trash bin cut Dean off from maybe a night in county lock up. A night in county and possibly a 48 hour hold complete with interview on his religious ethic beliefs and just exactly how he felt about the great nation of the United Stated of America. They’d have a nice time trying to reconcile his ID, his ticket and whatever they pulled up in all those databases they finally started cross-referencing these days.
When they cleared the search wands, metal detectors and watchful eyes of the staff, Sam finally felt his heart start to beat normally again. He wasn’t sure even they were slippery enough to make a clean break out from Guantanamo Bay.
From there, Dean had parked them in a bar up until about fifteen minutes before their flight was supposed to leave. Sam had a ginger ale. Dean had a few shots and silently downed a beer without offering any further conversation. Sam was more than happy to break for the unprompted act of self medication but his boat load of festering worries did not need the addition of wondering if some stewardess would deny Dean entry because of overt intoxication.
Turned out Dean stopped well before his tolerance could have let him go. That made Sam worry even more. He had been in a quandary about that one. He wanted Dean to be a little plastered but not so hammered that they wouldn’t let him on the plane. Two shots wouldn’t even get his brother buzzed enough to start asking any passable hot TSA officers how well they could handle their guns.
Sam tried to encourage him to drink a few more under the pretense that they were toasting the celebration of leaving the east coast. But no dice. Sam sucked down the untouched shots himself, dragging his hand across the back of his mouth as it burned down the back of his throat.
For all his brother’s gifts in seeing the larger picture as it were, the guy sure sometimes couldn’t get a grasp on the smallest of pictures that were all right around him.
The bathroom was emptying out. All the flights around it were heading up and out. Including theirs.
Sam waved his hands under the automatic sinks one more time, the cool water perfect and colder on the sweaty skin of his face and the back of his neck.
He checked his watch.
Sam knew very well that the chances of finding his brother still sitting out there by the crowded bustling gate was maybe a 1 out of 10. He had seen the keen nervous cast to his eyes when he had told him he’d be right back. Sam had seen Dean’s grip on the arms of his chair loosen with something like relief. Like a school kid that knows the fill in sub teacher was going to be out of sight for the next 10 minutes. It meant: now’s yer chance!
Skipping the hand dryers, Sam slipped out with the others leaving the noisy tiled room and quickly spotted what was left of the flight moving in line past the counter. It was more than last call, it was past last call and headed into the search for stand by passengers. Sam had just laid out over a grand making sure they’d get into the west coast by tonight and he wasn’t losing his seat to anyone.
Looking around, he felt his stomach flutter in his barely contained anxiety when he saw the seating area was empty. So was that it? Dean just bailed? So much for the hour long pep talk in the car about how they couldn’t waste time. So much for Dean swearing up and down that he could make it. Sure, all he had needed to do was face the fear. Face it and shout at the windshield while they drove through the vast airport long term parking. Face the fear! Face the fear! Face the—
Sam spotted one person still present in the vacated waiting area.
Walking slowly over to him, Sam paused one length of seats away just to make sure it wasn’t some homeless type. Or sloshed. Or both. It was an airport but they were still in freakin’ New York.
Nope. That was his brother.
Dean was slumped over in his seat. It didn’t just appear that he had passed out. It looked more like he had gone ahead and passed away. His head wasn’t resting on another seat or even on his own shoulder, it was hanging awkwardly above the armrest next to him, his hands limps and his bag toppled on its side, its contents carelessly scattered across the floor.
Suddenly more concerned than annoyed, Sam knelt down.
Crouching forward, he righted his brother’s shoulders and felt how limp Dean was in his grip. Slapping him a few times he thought of the measly shots of booze that in no way could have leveled Dean down to this state. Sam was about to smack him again, a real good one this time, when Dean’s hand fell free from his jacket and flopped out into his lap.
With a small clunk something hit the carefully patterned carpet between Dean’s officially terrorist free boots.
Blinking at it, Sam picked it up.
It was a plastic bottle.
A 16oz bottle to be exact.
And the thing was completely empty. Almost. There was a rolled up piece of paper stuffed inside it. Wondering vaguely how Dean managed to get it past security, he pressed one hand up against Dean’s stomach while allowing one of his shoulders to act as a head rest. Satisfied that it was enough to keep his brother from sliding lifelessly down onto the floor, Sam tugged the napkin out with his teeth, unrolling the sticky paper with a hand.
check you on the flip side sammy
Sam dropped the bold declaration and listened to the tinny blare overhead announce the notice to board for the very last time. Hurriedly shouldering his stuff which now included Dean’s, he quickly slid an arm under his brother’s jacket and got him to his feet with a shared groan.
“D-Dean?” Sam tried to whisper and smile at the people that were watching him try to hustle a mostly dead body towards the gate. “You gotta wake up Dean, you gotta wake up so they’ll let you on the plane…”
“...p-plane...” A small weak thread of fear could be heard under all the layers of the overdose of potent cold medicine.
“Train.” Sam quickly amended, sliding his hands into Dean’s pockets to make sure he hadn’t been robbed during the brief sojourn into the bathroom. “You gotta get on the train.”
“...gat mah ID..."
“And your ticket!” Sam said with profound relief when he found Dean had somehow managed to retain that as well as his wallet. “Now, you just-just gotta show the lady so—“
“...we’re goin’ on a train?” Dean seemed dubious even as he skirted the edges of his unconsciousness.
“Yeah remember? Out west.”
Six hours away. Six hours and 32 minutes if the ticket read it just right.
Sam smiled nervously at the check in guy who was impatiently waiting for the flight’s remaining stragglers. He had been privately hoping for a lady, they always seemed to let people get away with more stuff then their male counterparts ever did. The young man looked pointedly at Dean who was walking more or less on his own power, but only in the right direction because Sam had his hand wound into the back of his belt.
Sam was glad that Dean’s eyes were at least open. Not exactly focused on anything, but open.
“He-He just got off the red-eye from London.” Sam heard himself explaining. “He’s got some killer jet lag and, um, took some melatonin and you know how that goes—“
The young uniformed man looked Dean up and down as he quickly and efficiently slid their tickets through the machine and then handed them back their seat assignments. He waved them on.
“Have a nice trip.”
And that was it.
Not daring to sigh a breath of hope, Sam nodded a wordless thanks and hustled his brother down the long blue corridor that lead to their awaiting airplane. As heavy and awkward as it was to carry all their stuff and a human being all at once, Sam was privately grateful for Dean’s solution.
All he’d been able to think about was what the next six hours and assorted minutes would be like. And truth be told he liked them a whole more with his brother steeped in astronomical amounts of night time cold allergy relief than wide awake and brimming with coherency.
“Keep it together dude, just a little further…” Sam readjusted his grip around Dean’s waist and hefted the slipping strap on his shoulder.
“...how am I...” Dean asked sincerely, his face caught under Sam’s arm.
Sam wasn’t sure in what context Dean could possibly mean or be implying so he decided to ignore the question for the time being. He nodded politely to the slightly puzzled steward at the door and quickly pushed Dean ahead before they could get a really good look at him.
If this worked he was writing some letters. A ten page typed majesty of the poetic to the makers of cherry flavored acetaminophen. To each and every one of them.
Maybe even their wives.
Finding their seats was easy enough.
Being the last ones on, Sam watched everyone judge them silently from behind their AirMall magazines, quietly assessing just why they had taken so long to get their asses in gear. A helpful stewardess vanished with Sam’s bag when he saw all the over heads were taken but Dean’s fit under the seat no problem.
“Get in Dean.”
Sam slipped in the middle (thankfully exit row) seat and guided Dean down next to him to the aisle. Fumbling with his brother’s seat belt first, he made sure to yank it on and tighten it enough that Dean couldn’t slither out. Tipping Dean’s head back in his direction, he arranged his brother’s face as neatly as possible on his shoulder while he got his own shit under control. He suddenly remembered with a flash of regret that his book was in the bag the stewardess had made off with. There were a few things he needed to read up on for this trip, and if they got there by tonight as planned he wouldn’t have a whole lot of time to do on the way over to the—
Startled, Sam looked up at the smiling flight attendant.
“Federal regulations require that a passenger may not sit in an exit seat if he or she cannot or does not wish to perform the following functions—“
Sam listened to the list of rules he vaguely remembered the last time he’d been on a flight and designated to the row with a little extra leg room. Dean roused himself just enough at the end of her speech to give her a thumbs up. Sam briefly wondered what Dean thought he was giving his seal of approval for.
When she was gone, Sam let himself let out the deep breath he’d been holding ever since he’d discovered just hours ago that he’d be trapped at 39,000 feet next to the most unpleasant person possible. It was for more hours than seemed fair.
Dean let out a weird whine and got a little more comfortable on Sam, shoving his jaw painfully into a collar bone and jamming an arm under Sam’s as if his body was some disobliging pillow. At the moment, the slow but growing pool of drool forming on Sam’s shoulder didn’t bother him at all. The alternative was far more stressful and far more taxing. In fact, he figured if he didn’t move at all during the course of the flight he might get away with the entire thing with Dean far away deep inside his self induced blackout.
He stared down at the comatose body from the corner of his eye as the captain spoke and the engine whine turned into a full fledged roar. The cycling of the landing gear and rotation of the flaps made all of their mysterious and horrifying noises.
Dean didn’t so much as move. Let alone make a break for the sealed doors.
They were still steadily climbing in their ascent when Sam finally felt himself relax and shut his own eyes.
There was only... what, six hours and 25 minutes to go?
Before Sam even could think about how uncomfortable it was to sit at the odd angle with Dean’s not quite snores almost right in his ear. He shifted slightly to minimize the pain of the arm hooked awkwardly under his elbow and settled back. The rumbling white noise of the jet engines lulled him into a calm he didn’t experience very often.
And then just like that, he was asleep.
Sam blinked and tested his cramped muscles.
He felt the passage of time in the creak of his joints and the blissful groan he got righting them again. Blood returned to his limbs, his brain sluggishly returning to focus. Looking over his shoulder he could see the cloud cover passing wispy and slow across the windows. It was peaceful and serene outside. Carefully shifting the dead weight of Dean's head on his shoulder, he glimpsed blearily at his watch.
5 hours had passed in blissful peace. Only one hour to go...
He sighed and closed his eyes, sinking his head back into his headrest. The drool spot on his shoulder was drying out. Dean was still snoring evenly beside him. One more cat nap and they would all be back on good old terra firma.
A scratchy voice on the PA drifted to his ears. Instinctively, Sam stirred himself into unwilling, half-awake attentiveness. His slurred senses caught only this:
"We are terribly sorry for the inconvenience..."
Sam's eyes shot open, pulse picking up a little. Inconvenience was never a good thing.
"We will be diverting to Las Vegas due to some pesky little engine trouble. No big deal really. We can fly on one engine just as good as two. Once again, we greatly apologize for any..."
Sam closed his eyes and moaned softly, echoing many of the plane's passengers.
“Engine trouble?” Sam murmured in disbelief.
Sam shoved the travel sized pillow over Dean’s face realizing too late that it left his hearing completely unaffected.
He glanced around, frantically trying to jumpstart his brain into forming a plan B. Panicked, he noticed the elderly woman sitting next to him by the window. It seemed her maternal instinct kicked into gear by the look of fright on his face.
"Nervous flyer?" She asked with a small pat on his free hand.
Sam smiled weakly. "Uh...I guess. By default."
She leaned forward conspiratorially. Sam raised his eyebrows.
“You know what I do?” She murmured in a low confidential voice.
She opened the cracked leather handbag that had been placed primly on her lap for the entire duration of the flight. She took out a tiny lacquer pill box and shook out a couple of white tablets.
“I take a couple of these and I don’t know what the hell is what until they say ‘thanks for flyin!’”
She helpfully dropped four of them into Sam's open palm. Sam stared down at the round white tablets.
“Here Dean, open up!” He said, wishing he hadn't slept through the beverage service.
Dean was weakly shaking his head. “Wha—wha is tha?”
Sam felt the only effective way to communicate with his brother at this point was the same way he would a 4 year old child with special needs.
“It’s a mint! Mmmm mintsssssss.”
Skipping the kindness, Sam had forced the dry pills as far as he could onto the back of Dean's tongue. Choking on them, his shaking hands tried to pry Sam’s off his face as Sam squeezed Dean's nose shut forcing him to convulsively swallow down the stuff.
That woke him up.
“Get the hell… offa ...me...” Dean’s alarmed blurry gaze began to take in more and more of his surroundings. “...where... what... how... why..."
Dean roughly rubbed at his eyes and looked up and down the aisle like he’d just woken up in an airplane and wasn’t quite sure how the hell that could have happened.
“How long do these things take to work?” Sam tersely asked the old broad.
She shrugged. “Less than it takes to chase it down with a mini-Johnny Walker Red?”
Sam prayed that by the time they kicked in, the NyQuil in Dean's system would be on its way out. A tranquil coma was one thing. Hours of stomach pumping in an ER would be quite another.
Neither would matter to Dean in a couple of minutes anyway.
Briefly and covertly, he checked Dean's pulse. Fine. Dean's angry but mostly confounded eyes began to start fluttering closed, the pills taking their effect as desired. Sam watched when they finally stayed shut for good, his breathing smoothing out and his body tension fading away again to its previous corpse like languor. They would land for an hour in Vegas, take off again and Dean would be none the wiser that they had been a taxi drive away from its legendary T&A...
Sam tensed when he felt the plane lurch suddenly. The old lady by the window grabbed his other arm with surprising and some what shocking strength. He was prepared to just shut his eyes again and pretend to snore when suddenly he heard a loud click and something plastic smacked him in the face.
His heart skipped.
The rubber jungle. Cheery bright yellow oxygen masks were swaying from clear rubber chords above them. Sam looked down at his brother in full-on panic. But his brother was so far gone that Bowie might have already written a song about it, though the little rubber mask was smacking him gently and repeatedly in the face.
The apologetic placating voice of the captain blared on the PA.
"Please remain in your seats, ladies and gentlemen. There has been NO drop in cabin pressure. Cabin pressure is nominal, looks like we had a little override problem!“ The son of a bitch up at the wheel had the balls to laugh a little bit. “I repeat, please remain in your seats, everything is just fine and dandy!"
Sam could see a team of stewardesses up front hastily righting the open emergency hatches that housed the worrisome maze of life support. He rubbed at his temples wearily. This entire ordeal was too excruciating to process at the moment.
He turned and shared a pleading glance with the pill-pushing old lady by the window.
Wordlessly, she handed him two more.
Sam shoved them in his mouth and chewed them dry.
Whenever the hell it was that they ended up in sunny California, Dean could drag him around an airport for a change. Maybe just set him up in one of those rented metal trolleys that you could stack a ton of luggage on and push around—
The plane abruptly started to shudder in a sickening shake and dip of turbulence. Sam’s stomach rose when they sank. His gut then bottomed out when the entire aircraft pulled some unspeakably atrocious negative g-forces, bringing Sam and everything around him just to the brink of nauseating weightlessness. Sam eyed the small vomit sack that was tucked neatly in the seat in front of him.
Pulling it out with a weak hand, he clutched it close to his chest.
Face the fear, Dean had said. Face the fear he declared as he had pounded his steering wheel and promised that this ride would be like no other plane ride they’d ever had. Unfolding the bag for its proper use, Sam could do nothing but helplessly agree.
He just hoped that by the time they landed that at least a few of the bars would still be open.