Title: Through Health and Sickness
Author's Notes: I wrote this fic solely by myself, and look- somehow, it ended up being pure Dean whumping. Go Figure.
"Shut up, you are not dying."
Dean groaned, spread-eagle on the hotel's ugly floral comforter. "I am. I'm dying a slow, horrible, painful death and I'm stuck in a stuffy hotel room with you during my final hours."
Sam made a noise of resentment from the other bed and grumbled, "You're such an ass."
Dean closed his eyes and coughed with enough force to lift his head from the pillow. His ribs tightened around his lungs and his muscles ached. His throat was raw and just had to be torn to shreds for all the pain it was causing. Something thick and heavy bubbled out of his lungs, leaving a sour taste in the back of his throat. He swallowed it and panted through his mouth. "God, just kill me now."
"God doesn't want to listen to your bitching any more than I do," Sam said, dropping his duffle bag to the floor, a small white box in his hand. He got up, tossing the box of pills on Dean's chest, then headed into the bathroom. "Sit up," he ordered over his shoulder. "I'm getting you some water for the pills."
Dean lifted a heavy hand and closed his fingers over the box. It was so hot in here… he was already in his boxers and T-shirt, but the sweat just kept pouring off of him. His mouth was dry. His hair was wet. With a whimper, he pushed himself up and blinked open his eyes.
The drapes were drawn but bright, afternoon sunlight leaked in around the edges of the dark fabric. His head pounded and his stomach flip-flopped. To top it all off, his nose was both runny and stuffy.
This was all Sam's fault.
Dean glared at his brother's back as Sam filled a clear plastic cup in the sink. "You just had to play the hero, didn't you?" he started, accusation thick in this stuffed-up voice. He blinked, and his eyes burned. "You just had to toast the bones on a cold, rainy night, didn't you?" He sniffed indignantly. "You sick freak."
Sam shut off the water rather forcefully, his shoulders high with tension. He turned and moved stiffly back to Dean's bed. "Here. Take your pills and go to sleep, okay? It's just a cold, you'll get over it."
Dean stared dumbly at the box in his hands. "Pills can't get me off my death bed, Sammy. I'm too far gone." He pointed at the nightstand between them. "Get a pen and paper. I'm going to dictate my will."
Sam rolled his eyes and shook his head, flopping down on the second bed. "You're such a baby," he grumbled, grabbing the remote. "Were you always this bad, or is it something that developed while I was in school?"
He would have answered, but one of those mucus bubbles popped in his throat and he coughed, doubling over and fighting for air. The water sloshed over his hand and onto his bare knee. With his free hand, he presented Sam with his middle finger.
The TV flickered on and Oprah appeared onscreen. "Hey, don't blame me- I told you that you could wait in the car," Sam said. "I was perfectly capable of handling the corpse myself."
The coughing turned to gasping and Dean straightened slowly. "What, and let you have all the fun? Besides, it would just be you lying here in your death throes instead of me. And if I remember correctly- you're a royal pain in the ass when you're-"
Another round of coughing seized him and with a sigh, Sam got up.
"Guess I learned it from you, huh?" he asked, taking the box of medicine from Dean's lap and opening it. He pulled out the blister card and popped out two pills, then held them out to Dean. A few seconds passed and Dean had yet to take them, so Sam grabbed his brother's wrist and pressed the pills into his palm. "Swallow these before you pass out."
Glaring at Sam as best he could through heavy eyelids, Dean tried to control his breathing. His head was hurting worse by the moment and it wouldn't be long until his skull exploded. He couldn't get a deep breath and his body felt heavy and leaden. Oh yeah- this was the mother of all colds.
Dean obeyed, tossing the pills to the back of his throat and wincing as he swallowed the chemical-laden tap water. His throat burned and a whimper slipped past his lips. "God, this hurts like a bitch."
Dean held the cup out and Sam took it, placing it on the nightstand. "You'd feel a lot better if you'd go to sleep. You need to let your body recuperate, Dean."
"Thank you, Nurse Sammy," Dean grunted even as he lay on his back. He threw an arm over his eyes and tried to ride out the wave of nausea. "Now get away from me."
"Fine," Sam snapped, flopping down on his bed again. "Go ahead and die. Just tone it down, the news is about to come on."
Dean shivered and realized his T-shirt was soaked through with perspiration. He whimpered.
"You shut up," he shot back. "I'm cold, my head hurts, and I can't breathe. I'm dying. I think I get some whining privileges."
Sam groaned. "What would Dad say if he were here right now?" he asked, getting up and moving to Dean's duffle bag. "Oh that's right- you don't act like this in front of other people, just me. I'm the lucky one."
"You're my baby brother. I changed your diapers. You owe me."
Sam threw a clean shirt at Dean's face. "Next time, don't do me any favors."
Dean pulled the shirt off his head and lay still, watching Sam move about. "Next time? You got a thing for diapers that I don't know about?"
Sam growled and Dean grinned.
"Come on Sammy, lighten up a bit. You're always brooding. You're too… broody."
"I am not." Sam sat heavily on his bed, this time his attention on Dean and not the TV. "You really do look kinda sick, ya know."
Dean rolled his head in Sam's direction. The room spun lazily. "You don't say."
Sam was on his feet again, digging through the duffle bag. "We should take your temperature. You should be drinking fluids. Do you think you can eat something?"
Dean's stomach lurched at the mention of food and he closed his eyes. "Not unless you wanna be scooping it off the floor later."
A moment of silence passed and Dean relaxed, his eyes still closed. He was so incredibly tired… he'd probably sleep all day tomorrow. Sam would have to fend for himself for entertainment.
An intrusion over his lips startled him and Dean jumped, his eyes wide as he blinked rapidly, trying to bring the room into focus.
"It's just a thermometer," Sam said calmly from above him. "Hold it."
Confused as to how Sam approached so silently, Dean realized he must have started to drift off. He hated being sick. Helpless to do anything else, Dean settled his tongue over the thermometer and relaxed again as Sam moved to the door.
"There's a vending machine at the end of the hall. I'm getting you some juice."
Dean wanted to protest that he wasn't a child- he didn't need 'juice'. Gatorade, maybe, but not 'juice'.
But Sam was already gone and Dean whimpered in misery. He hated being sick. He was a strong guy, healthy as a horse, not used to having his body betray him. Dean took pride in his health- his vitality. Life was too short not to.
Especially when you looked this good.
He sighed heavily, his gaze traveling without focus over the water-stained ceiling. Out of curiosity, he pulled the thermometer from his mouth and squinted at the numbers. The concentration increased the throbbing in his temples and he moved it closer to his face.
101.9? Oh for crying out loud- it had to be higher than that! He was in agony! Dean groaned, feeling a bead of sweat roll down the side of his head. Sam would think he really was a pansy if he saw those numbers. For all the pain and misery he was in, it had to be at least 103. Dean was having serious brain meltdown here. He could hardly function.
Eyeing the bedside lamp, a mischievous grin spread over him. With a quick glance to the door, Dean reached over and held the thermometer next to the light bulb. He'd already dug himself into a hole with all his melodramatic whining- Sam might as well believe him.
Seconds later, the door knob jiggled and Dean jerked in surprise. There was a muffled curse from the other side of the door as Dean shoved the thermometer in his mouth-
Then yelped as it burnt his tongue. It fell to the floor and Dean dived over the side of the bed after it, snatching it and clenching his jaw against a strong wave of nausea. He pushed himself into a sitting position just as the door finally swung open.
Their eyes met from across the room and Sam arched an eyebrow. "You look like you're going to puke."
Swallowing, Dean remained silent. Then he held out the thermometer. "Here."
Sam moved out of the doorway and shut the door behind him, then set a bottle of juice and a pack of saltines on the nightstand. He took the thermometer and carried it into the bathroom, snatching a washcloth from the rack along the way. "I think you need something stronger than Tylenol, Dean," he called back dejectedly. The water turned on and Dean watched Sam soak the cloth in cold water. "I'm going to have to go to the store and get- one hundred and twenty degrees!"
Dean winced. Whoops.
He blushed (or was that the fever?) as Sam glared at him from the doorway of the bathroom.
Dean smiled. "Uh… told you so?"
"Dean." Uh-oh. "You do realize that medically, you're dead."
Dean's grin broadened, lifting his pendant from his sweat-slicked chest. "Guess this thing is doing its job then, huh?"
Sam rolled his eyes and huffed.
"Oh, come on, Sam-"
"Here, then," Sam interrupted, throwing the cold cloth at Dean. "Put that on your forehead. And put a dry shirt on before you stink the place up. Drink your juice."
Dean grumbled and obeyed, slightly embarrassed. He grabbed the glass bottle and twisted the cap off then tilted it to his lips, barely taking notice of the flavor. It was cold and soothing but his stuffy nose prevented him from tasting it. He gulped down half the bottle before the nausea caught up with him. He lowered his hand, going completely still. Waiting.
He looked at Sam helplessly, then the liquid surged back up his esophagus. "Gonna-"
God bless Sam's reflexes. A trashcan was shoved in his lap just as Dean regurgitated eight ounces of 5 percent apple juice. When he was done, he was limp, shivering, and exhausted. Being sick had never sucked so much as it did right now.
"Well would you look at that," Sam snorted. "You could almost put it back in the bottle and drink it again."
Dean stood corrected.
He heaved again, his ribs squeezing his lungs so tightly he was sure they'd pop out his ears. His throat was a source of pure agony now, and Dean was positive his eyeballs had exploded. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been sick- let alone this sick- and honestly, he was starting to get scared. What if he really was dying? What if he'd caught the bird flu or contracted a wild strain of pneumonia? He really didn't want to die in some run-down motel in the middle of nowhere. He wanted to go out in a blaze of glory- a heroic, sacrificial move that would end both his life and that of the Impala- because she shouldn't be anyone's car but his. He didn't want to die spewing his guts into a cheap plastic trashcan!
"…Dean- just relax! Take a deep breath, come on. Slow down. Jesus- do I have to call an ambulance?"
"No!" he gasped, shaking his head once before realizing it was a bad idea. "No, I'm fine. Just wait."
Sam's eyebrow was raised in doubt. "You're fine."
"You're hopeless, that's what you are," Sam retorted, holding out the cup of water.
Snot tickled its way down Dean's upper lip and he wiped it away with his wrist, sniffing loudly.
Immediately, a wad of tissues was shoved in his hand. Sam was standing beside him. "You're disgusting. Think you can take a shower?"
The prospect of standing under a stream of cold water was tempting, but right now his muscles were jell-o. "Morning," he grunted, finally confident enough to relinquish the trashcan. Then, he collapsed back onto the pillow and closed his eyes, utterly spent.
The room was silent for a few seconds, then something cold and damp was placed across his forehead. He sighed in appreciation- he was too bone-weary to do much else- and heard Sam snort softly.
"Dean… I'm sorry."
Unconsciousness pulled at him and Dean fought to keep above the darkness. "F'what?"
"Dragging you out there, in the rain. You're right, it could've waited."
Dean wished he had the energy to get up and beat some sense into his little brother. Couldn't Sam tell when he was kidding by now? "Not your… fault." He was fading fast and he knew it- but along with sleep was the promise of relief, and Dean couldn't say no. Too quickly, the world was slipping away.
"Go to sleep, Dean."
"Just wait… till you… get sick…"
Sam rolled his eyes as Dean finally lost consciousness, his body going lax atop the too-small hotel bed. He shook his head, thankful Dean was resting but amazed at how hard Dean could fight something he so obviously needed. Dean was nothing if not stubborn.
"Goodnight, Dean," Sam sighed, then began to clean up. He didn't mind- Dean had cared for him all his life. Through the tears and diapers and baby food, through first days of school and bullies and being strangers in a new town, through a life he sometimes hated and ghosts and witches and questioning teaches, school counselors and police… even through the love of his life burning on the ceiling and parental abandonment.
Sometimes, whenever he could, it was nice to return the favor.