Supernatural ain't mine.

So a few weeks back I wrote a fic for Dean's birthday (Memento Mori) in which I was... kinda mean. This is my attempt to make it up to him. Only, because it's me, there wound up being a fair dollop of angst in there, too. Spoilers up to Playthings, nothing special, just a little angsty, schmoopy snippet.


Inside a Fifth of Comfort

It's the twenty-fourth of January. Dean's twenty-eight years old, which means he's closer to thirty than he is to twenty-five, and he's fucking pissed off.

It's not the weather that's getting to him (OK, so the weather utterly sucks, driving sleet – not even snow for Christ's sake – and every time he has to go outside he's soaked and shivering in under thirty seconds), or that the TV reception is utterly fucked-up, or even the fact that Sam's been delirious for two days now (though that sucks too, obviously, because maybe Sam's not the greatest company Dean could hope for at the best of times – he doesn't have any tits, for a start, and Dean really likes tits – but at least usually it's possible to hold a conversation with him without starting to feel like you're in a freakin surrealist movie). It's not either of those things, though neither of them is particularly contributing to Dean's sense of goddamn wellbeing, either.

He sighs, glaring out of the window in case the storm's let up (but of course it hasn't, because that would be too goddamn nice) and wondering whether driving to the nearest bar in this shit would really could as a suicide mission or just a moronic idea. On the other side of the room, Sam moans and shifts, muttering something that sounds like the clowns Dean pass the salt before subsiding. Dean rolls his eyes and gets up, checking his brother's temperature for like the fifteenth time in two hours (because he's cleaned all the guns and he's organised the first-aid kit and he has nothing else to do). Sam's over the worst of it, his fever coming down, but he's still pale and sweaty and completely incoherent, and Dean can't help resenting him, just a little (which isn't fair, because Sam doesn't even know what day it is, Jesus, at this point Sam probably doesn't even know his own name, but Dean kind of feels like being unfair right now), and he grinds his teeth as Sam mumbles and whimpers and throws off the covers. Happy freakin birthday, Dean.

It gets worse, though (doesn't it always?), because when Dean goes for the Tylenol to dose Sam up, the bottle's empty. Well, shit. Dean eyes Sam, who ignores him, concentrating instead on looking like death warmed up. Maybe Sam doesn't really need any more Tylenol? His fever's down, after all, and he hasn't been throwing up (which might have something to do with the fact that he hasn't eaten anything for three days, but whatever). He's managed to down half a bottle of the goddamn stuff since he got sick. He probably doesn't need any more.

As if on cue, Sam opens his eyes and stares at Dean. Dean stares back. "You don't need me to feed that drug habit of yours any more, do you, Sammy?"

Sm blinks, slow and lazy. "Dad?" he says.

Dean takes that as a yes.


The weather's completely fucking disgusting (but that's not what's getting to Dean), and of course the Impala won't start, which means Dean has to stand out in it for ten minutes checking the freakin engine, except he can't find anything wrong with it, and when he tries it again, just in case, it turns over like all it wanted all along was to see how far it could push him. Christ, even his baby girl is pissing in his cornflakes today. Dean's no fan of the idea of higher powers directing the action down here on this mudball, but even he's beginning to wonder if cosmic irony is more than just a neat turn of phrase.

So he drips all over the interior, and the visibility's pretty much zero, not to mention the half-melted slush dripping in his eyes from his hair, and he's lucky if he can make it to ten miles an hour crawling along the high street, but thank God there's a drugstore not too far from the motel, only of course it doesn't have nearby parking. Dean's already soaked through, but he really doesn't want to trudge for another ten minutes through the storm.

He does it though, because Sam's sick and Sam needs him and sometimes it feels like Sam always needs him, even when he's not sick, and usually Dean puts up with it and doesn't mind and even kind of likes it, because he remembers a time when Sammy didn't need him and that definitely sucked worse than this, but today it just pisses him off even more (but that's not what's really getting to Dean, either).

He picks up the Tylenol and trudges back to the car, and he's pretty cold now and totally soaked, and he'll be lucky if he doesn't get a fever himself (and that would serve Sam freakin right). Then it's back down the high street at a snail's pace, he can't see anything in front of him and he doesn't know where he's going and he can't just let loose because he might drive off the road, and Christ it's just like his life, which is lame because analogies like that annoy the fuck out of Dean.

When he gets back to the motel room, Sam is out of bed, kneeling on the floor in the corner and scrabbling in his duffle bag.

"What the fuck, Sammy?" Dean says, because he's in no mood to deal with whatever this is right now. Sam's been saying some freaky shit, and Dean knows he's delirious but last time he was drunk and that turned out pretty much like the worst thing ever, so he's not letting his guard down this time.

Sam doesn't look up, though, just keeps on rummaging like Dean's not even there, his hair stuck to his forehead with sweat. Dean rolls his eyes and goes over there, grabbing Sam by the arm, but Sam makes a sort of gurgling growl which would be funny if Dean wasn't so pissed off and pulls back, refusing to budge.

"Jesus, Sam, could you just co-operate with me this once?" Dean asks.

"Got to find it," Sam mutters, and he's practically inside the goddamn bag now, which is no good because there's knives and shit in there, and it would be just like Sam to accidentally slit his own wrists or shoot himself in the face trying to crawl into a piece of luggage.

"Sam," Dean says, using his warning tone because he's sick of this shit and all he wants is for this day to be over.

"Found it," says Sam, triumphant, his cheeks flushed, beaming like he's won the goddamn lottery, and goddamn if he's not holding a bottle of freakin whiskey in his hand, and that's it, that's it, Dean has no idea where he got it from or how long he's been hiding it in his duffle, but once he's capable of coherent thought again Sam is so getting his ass kicked.

Then Sam thrusts the bottle at him and smiles wider and says, "I wanted Scotch but they didn't have any."

Dean stares. Scotch is what Dad likes – liked – to drink. It's expensive though, and Dad would only buy one or two bottles a year, and every year since Dean was sixteen and Dad grinned at him and said you're a man, now, kiddo, he and Dean would have a drink together on Dean's birthday (and that's what's really been getting to Dean).

Sam wobbles and looks like he might drop the bottle, and Dean takes it from his outstretched hand. Sam keeps smiling in that manic way and says "I think you should shoot it, Dean. It doesn't look human."

Dean rolls his eyes and hauls Sam back to bed, tips some Tylenol down his throat and pulls the blankets back over him. Then he goes to the cabinet and pulls out two glasses, pours a finger of whiskey in each, and sets them down on the table, one in front of his seat, one opposite. He drinks the whiskey slow, his eyes closed, savouring it even though it's not Scotch, feeling the heat spreading through his stomach, pushing away the cold and the wet and almost making the motel room feel like an oak-panelled library with a roaring fire (yeah, nice imagination there, Dean), and when he's done he tips his glass at the one still sitting opposite him and nods. Sam shifts and sighs and says Dean, but not like he's demanding something, just like he's saying it because he likes the word, and Dean's tongue tastes of birthday and Dad and home. He leans back in his chair and pours himself another finger.

Happy freakin birthday, Dean.