Viruses have a nasty habit of not caring whether you have a big presentation to give or are supposed to go on vacation. Indeed, Sam and Dean had no such plans – vacation, what's that? – but they had been looking forward to a couple easy hunts as a bit of a breather. This particular virus, born and bred in chemical stew that is New Jersey, had decided to make sure their lives weren't anything close to easy. (Viruses can be surprisingly sentient.) Oh, Sam wasn't sick. Dean was the one with the Technicolor snot ("Look at it, Sam. Nothing that color should ever come out of your head!" "….Dude, stop waving your used tissues in my face."), fever, and deep, racking cough. Since Cas had fluttered in and out in a brief appearance, dropping a plastic bottle filled with honey and the wisdom that "I have heard honey can help soothe throats, Dean", Dean, instead, was insisting that Jack Daniel's honey whiskey would be a far better choice, since alcohol kills germs, right? And the honey would still soothe his throat. The thought of the stone-faced rumpled angel going into a grocery store and having to figure out the still mysterious methods of human payment, all while cradling a teddy bear-shaped bottle, was worth a bit, even if Dean was still angling for something less sticky and more alcoholic.
Sam and Dean manage to make it into Pennsylvania and out the other side of Philadelphia before stopping became necessary. Dean had fallen asleep in the passenger seat, emitting groaning, rattling noises that started and stopped at random times. Sam finally gives in when he saw the long string of what he hoped was saliva trailing from Dean's face to the door of the Impala. There's only so much bodily fluids he could handle, and that's his normal seat, so he'd rather keep it as Dean-fluid-free as possible.
He doesn't even want to think what fluids might be lurking in the back seat that he gets relegated to every time Castiel shows up.
Sam gets the staggering Dean into the small room and sort of tilted him sideways onto the bed. He immediately flipped on the TV, since an unentertained sick Dean is a loud, cranky, whiny Dean. Not that much different than the usual Dean, no matter how much he insists he doesn't whine, but with extra bonus crankiness that means Sam might come back to his clean underwear having been used as Dean's snot rags if he doesn't make with the amusement. Unfortunately for Sam, every channel that came in decently on the TV was airing one of the Republican Presidential primary debates. That being only good for arguments about which candidate was from which circle of Hell, Sam flips it off equally as hastily as it had come on. Dean eyes Sam, about to begin the countdown sequence of whinging, when he was thankfully interrupted by rebellious lungs. As much as Dean twitched every time they were on the East Coast about the sheer number of people, Sam noted the sign on the dresser indicating even the crappy hotel they were at had WiFi, so he pulls out the laptop, boots it up, and pops on Netflix.
Netflix, please be my savior. Oh, crap, thinks Sam. All of the Doctor Sexy on Netflix had just been pulled due to contract disputes, which meant…. uh… uh… no, not National Geographic documentaries, and Sam had better not let Dean see the queue full of them and Gilmore Girls episodes. WAIT. Sam hastily browses to the show and started up an episode, handing the laptop over to Dean. "Dude, I'm going to get you some soup and Nyquil. Anything else you want? Oh, the good tissues, too." "And some wh—" "NO WHISKEY. Cas flew thousands of miles just to bring you that honey. Try that first." Sam didn't actually know if it was thousands of miles, but any mention of Cas doing something for Dean tended to bring up memories of profound bonds, "I did it all for you, Dean", and exploding angel, so it was a very effective method for making Dean quiet.
Sam flees out the door to the local pharmacy, hoping that 15 seasons of the show he'd found would keep Dean busy.
Sam had only watched a bit of Arrested Development, but Gob's "I've made a huge mistake" ran through his head when he opens the door to the room to find his brother watching the laptop screen with demented eyes that couldn't get any bigger unless he actually became an anime character.
"DUDE. This Top Gear thing is *cough* *hack* *flail* GREAT. Cars. More cars. They drove a goddamn Lamborghini! They turned a car into a space shuttle! They raced RVs! Hell, they made their own RVs*, and one of them fell over.* They made amphibious vehicles from regular cars and freaking crossed the English Channel in one!" Sam has a moment of pride that he found something other than a soap opera that his brother would enjoy. It figured, of course. Dean can make an EMF detector from a Sony Walkman, so a show about super-fast cars and engineering challenges – coupled with the occasional Mythbusters-like explosions, fire, and engineering disasters – is right up his alley, even if it does feature plummy British accents. Sam's tempted to ask if Dean thinks any of the cars he's seen on the show are better than his beloved Impala.
Sadly, the Nyquil Sam forces down Dean's throat seemed to make his brother sleepy but not actually sleep. Instead, he turns into a babbling, only loosely coherent mess that prattles endlessly about everything that crossed the screen. Sam ends up crawling onto the bed next to Dean so he could actually see what was happening on the screen. With his brother as a current nuclear furnace from his fever, Sam doesn't even need to get under the covers to be toasty warm, although he occasionally tries to nap sitting up. At least one of them should try to get some rest, especially if he was going to have to continue doing the driving.
Sam wakes up at ass o'clock in the morning to Dean vibrating with tension, clutching the half-empty bottle of Nyquil in his hand. Dean has also gone distinctly green around the edges, and Sam cautiously asks if he needs to fetch the trashcan for barf bucket purposes. Dean, hand a-trembling, points to the screen and says, "They're driving on the Road of Death**, Sam. They actually named it the Road of Death. Who in their right mind would do this?" Sam eyes the screen and notices a truck attempting to pass a red Land Rover, pushing the Rover to the edge of a road where gravel begins to ping down, down, down, down hundreds – if not thousands - of feet to a tree canopy.
Sam eventually drifts off again to the sound of Dean cackling about Jeremy Clarkson's road test of the new Ford Fiesta. Apparently, a viewer had complained about Top Gear only testing supercars and other impractical things, so they were testing this affordable car in Top Gear fashion—which meant driving through sewers to see if they could get it up the walls, driving it at 55 mph through an indoor shopping mall to compare evasiveness with a Camaro (oh, the Camaro's crash into a store was pretty spectacular), and using the little hatchback as a beach assault craft in an exercise with the Royal Marines. As is normal when doing things with his brother, Sam thinks that finding something Dean will enjoy may have drastic, previously unimagined repercussions, but his need for sleep trumps contemplating his fate. Sam's dreams during his brief rest seem to consist mostly of imagining he's in an earthquake, the floor beneath him shaking and jerking, that sounds quite a lot like car exhaust noise. That is, until…
…A loud "POWERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR" and flying mass of older brother landing on his chest jolts Sam's heart into overtime and his mind into consciousness. At Sam's surprised flailing, the loony topples backwards off the other side of the bed, ending up on his back on the floor, gasping, laughing, and coughing in one long abuse of his lungs.
Obviously, even with the death rattles still rising from his lungs, Dean is feeling a bit better. Sam decides to get while the getting's good, and shuffles his brother into the Impala's passenger seat with another bottle of Nyquil. Unfortunately for Sam – yet again – the Nyquil again fails to make Dean sleep. While Sam, in the back of his mind, contemplates whether talky!Dean is better than quietButBarelyBreathing!Dean , he gets to share in the following observations:
"I'm totally buying you a Gee Whiz*** for your birthday."
"You're Hammond. You've even got the stupid hair." "But, Dean, he's so much shorter than the others. Shouldn't that make you Hammond?" "Do you think Cas is Captain Slow then?" "Well, we know he's slow about understanding humans…" "Heh, yeah. And I bet he'd drive like a granny, especially since he's older than every granny put together."
By lunchtime, Sam is ready to let a now substantially less Nyquil-gh Dean drive for a bit in hopes that he'll sing - or at least croak - along to the radio. When Dean reaches for the radio knob to turn the music down to start talking again, Sam decides a) the world is ending again, and this time it's Dean who's starting the Apocalypse because Dean Winchester turning down music is obviously a sign, and b) it's time to go extreme. "Dean, you do know there's an American remake, right?" Dean pulls over to the side of the road with a load SCREECH of the brakes. Sam's "What the fuck" and bounce off the dashboard went unnoticed, as Dean stares out the front windshield with wide eyes and an absolutely wistful expression on his face.
The consequences of Sam's desperate attempt to occupy a sick Dean have finally come to light: Dean is a hardware person at heart, with a love for restoring things to original specs if he can and a talent for adapting whatever is at hand if he can't. Driving these cars, classic and new, and doing crazy build challenges… that would be ideal for Dean, something where they're not just existing around the fringes of society trying to help people, but something he can actually be publicly proud of. As Sam thinks on it more, it's something Bobby could share with them, and Bobby has the ideal place to do the work in the salvage yard. Even Sam could participate- Sam's attempts to help Dean with his projects with the Impala always end up with Dean yanking the tools from Sam's hand with a "Your gargantuan paws are hurting my baby, you've gotta treat her with respect, Sam", but here would be cars he's not obsessively attached to. A family business other than hunting and killing things. Except the Top Gear remake was already cast, and it's unlikely that thought of two boys and an old drunk would be so overwhelmingly awesome that they'd recast. Even tossing in Cas, Mr. Stone Face, as the tame angel instead of the tame racing driver probably wouldn't put them over the top for the major cable network.
But, hey, South Dakota's got to have a public access cable station somewhere, right?
They drive off, still dreaming of grease and peace, Dean's coughing only an occasional interruption.