Supernatural belongs to Kripke and the CW. No copyright infringement intended.
Note: Okay, so, this one came out of no where and it's really just another excuse to take care of Dean. I'm a sucker for H/C.
Feedback does the body good (and encourages writing and more writing, and more...well, you get the picture). So let me know what ya'll think.
Dean came out of the motel bathroom, patting his face with a towel. He wasn't surprised that his face still felt hot. It made him wonder if his cheeks were flushed. At sixteen, he couldn't afford to be that uncool. He tossed the towel onto the room's only chair and looked over at his little brother and all thoughts about himself flew out of his head. Sam was lying on the motel bed, curled up into a protective ball. In two steps, he was at Sam's side, bending over him. "You okay, Sammy?"
Sam's gaze never wavered from the television screen. "Yeah."
"Uh-huh. Sounds like it." Dean frowned at the listless tone. It did nothing to alleviate his anxiety at seeing his normally energetic twelve-year-old brother slumped against the pillows. "What's wrong?"
"N--Nothing." Sam shivered.
"Damn it, Sam!" Worry made Dean's tone sharp. It unnerved him to see his brother so motionless. Dean stepped in front of the tv, hoping to get Sam to look at him.
"Move outta of the way," Sam mumbled. "Can' see through you."
"Then look at me!" Alarm bells rang in Dean's head. Sam only refused to make eye contact with him when something was wrong.
Sam's head never left the pillow, but he lifted his eyes to Dean's. The dullness that shone out of them made Dean's stomach clench. He tried hard to swallow the acidic taste that bubbled up into his mouth and felt the burn in his throat when he succeeded. "Talk to me, Sammy, tell me what's wrong."
"Trying to watch a show, Dean," Sam whined, "and you're in the way."
Dean bit back a growl, but couldn't quite hide his frustration as he slammed his hand on the power button. "Forget about the damn show!" He flinched at the loudness of his own voice.
"Sorry, Dean," Sam said and his lower lip trembled. "Don't be mad."
Dean slapped a hand over his eyes and winced as shooting pain rocketed through his head. Ignoring it, he focused all his attention on Sam. His little brother was never one to shy away from emotion, but nor did he usually bellyache like a five-year-old. No that was reserved for when he wasn't feeling well. "I'm not mad, Sammy," Dean soothed. "I just want to know what's wrong."
"Nothing," came the sullen reply. "I already told you that."
Dean rolled his eyes and had to bite his lip as he tried again to force down the bile scorching a trail up through his esophagus.
"You didn't eat your lunch." Dean pointed at the peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the nightstand, without actually looking at it. His stomach churned at the thought anyway and he swallowed with difficulty. "And you're just lying there. If you're sick, man, you've gotta tell me."
"Talk to me, Sammy." Dean's brows knitted. "Your stomach bothering you?"
Sam shook his head.
He shook his head again.
"Your head hurt?"
Sam took a moment before answering. "Not really."
"Not really?" Dean repeated, rubbing his forehead. His own headache lurked behind his eyes, and he just wanted to dig his fists into his sockets to push away the pain. But there was no time for that. He had to take care of Sam. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
Sam lifted a shoulder, a flash of pain crossing his face. "Doesn't hurt any more than the rest of me does."
Dean's eyes widened and he touched Sam's forehead with the back of his hand. "Doesn't feel like you have a fever," he muttered. "You saying you hurt everywhere?"
Sam looked away. "When's Daddy coming home?"
Dean heaved a sigh. It could be so fucking hard to get Sam to cooperate when he was sick. Dean hated these avoidance tactics. "Sam, Dad will be home soon." Dean rubbed at the back of his neck, squeezing it to ease some of the pressure feeding tension to the thousands of tiny hammers in his skull.
"Not sure," Dean answered, letting out a slow breath. "Maybe."
"Wish he would come home," Sam whispered.
"I know, kiddo." Dean laid a hand on his brother's head. "It's gonna be okay. He'll be back before you know it. Until then, I'll take care of you." Dean may be only sixteen, but he took looking after Sam very seriously.
"I know." Sam was still whispering.
Dean smiled, unconsciously soothed by his brother's tone. "I'm gonna get you something for those aches, okay?" He made his way to his duffle, cringing as he stepped into a shaft of sunlight coming through the window. Keeping his eyes clenched shut, he fumbled with the curtains until they were closed.
Dean opened his eyes and turned to look at his brother. Sam's features were barely discernable in the gloom that had overtaken the motel room. "Better?" Dean asked, pinching the bridge of his nose.
It was hard to read the expression on Sam's face. "Yeah. Thanks, man."
"No problem." He grabbed the pills and a bottle of water and walked over to Sam, unaware that he swayed with each step, completely oblivious to his brother observing his every move. "Here, Sammy. These will make you feel better."
Sam stared at him. "No."
"What do you mean, 'no'?" Dean didn't think he could handle another bout of verbal sparring with Sam, not when his head felt like rolling right off his shoulders. "Come on. Take them. You need 'em."
Sam pushed Dean's hand away and shook his head.
"Damn it, Sam," Dean growled. "We're not arguing about this." He thrust the pills at Sam.
Dean clenched his teeth, barring the whimper that wanted to escape from his throat. Waves of agony radiated from his shoulders to his head, causing his muscles to spasm. He barely kept himself from lurching forward as sharp pain shot through his lower back. "Sammy, take the pills. Please?"
Sam bit his lip. "Dean, I--"
"What is it, Sam?" Dean didn't even realize his voice was cracking as he spoke.
"I don't want to take them by myself." Sam looked away.
"What?" Dean blinked. "Oh, for crying out loud." He inhaled sharply as more pain rippled through his neck.
"Please, Dean?" Sam looked back at him and Dean knew he'd do anything to erase the misery he saw in those eyes.
"Fine," he muttered. "Will you take them if I do?" A couple of pills wouldn't hurt, not if it made Sam feel better.
"You'd do that?" Sam's eyes were wide.
"'Course I would." Dean's voice was gruff. Sam hadn't yet figured out that Dean would do anything for him. Hopefully, he never would.
"Thanks, Dean," Sam said softly.
"Look, I'll take 'em first." Dean gulped down the pills and handed two to Sam. He watched as his brother mirrored the movement. "Why don't you get some rest?"
"'Kay," Sam settled back against the pillows. "What are you gonna do?"
Dean dug a thumb into his right temple, hoping to ease the throbbing. When he saw Sam looking at him, he dropped his hand. "Think I'll clean the guns."
"But you did that yesterday," Sam protested.
"What the hell else am I supposed to do?"
"We, uh, could watch some tv, " Sam suggested, looking hopeful.
Dean frowned at him. "You need to rest. Not watch tv."
Sam looked down at his lap. "Uh, I can't."
"Can't what?" Dean rubbed his neck. Honestly, he didn't get his little brother sometimes.
"Rest, "Sam said, plucking at the comforter. "It's hard, you know." His voice dropped to a whisper. "By myself."
"You're kidding, right?" Dean crossed his arms, wanting to groan as the movement pulled at the muscles in his shoulders. "How old are you again?"
"Go ahead and clean your stupid guns." Sam glared at him. "I don't need you anyway."
Dean knew Sam wasn't his usual reasonable, independent self when he was sick. He needed to be more patient. "Aw, Sam, I'm sorry."
"No, you're not," Sam sniffed and Dean could tell his eyes were bright. "Go ahead. Do whatever you want. Leave me alone." Sam clutched at a pillow, refusing to look at Dean.
Dean ran a hand along his face, willing the pain in his head to recede so that he could deal with this latest crisis. Sam wasn't feeling well and all Dean could do was act like an asshole. "Come on, Sammy, don't be that way," he wheedled. "Turn on the tv and scoot over. I'll clean the guns later."
Sam didn't answer, but he moved over and the tv came on, the volume turned low. "Thanks, Dean," he said quietly and although Dean couldn't see, he was smiling.
Dean moved around the bed and crawled up onto the mattress next to his brother. As he relaxed among the pillows, he felt the pain in his head ease. Dean let out a moan that he hoped Sam hadn't heard. A glance told him that Sam's focus was on the show he was watching. He hadn't even turned to look at Dean.
Letting out a breath, Dean closed his eyes.
Just for a minute.
Dean drifted awake to the sound of the motel room door opening. He tensed until he heard his father's voice rumble a greeting. Dean allowed his body to go limp and he didn't bother to open his eyes. He didn't think he had the energy to pry them apart anyway. In fact, he felt too drained to do much of anything. Days like these sucked.
"Hey, Dad," Sam said, his voice low.
"What's going on, kiddo?" His father's tone matched his brother's.
"Dean wasn't feeling well," Sam answered.
That's not true, Dad. Sammy's the one that's sick. Dean struggled to get the words out, but it was too much effort. Any form of concentration just seemed to set off the jackhammer in his head.
"Yeah," Sammy continued. "He's got a pretty bad migraine."
"He told you that?" His father asked, and Dean could hear the concern.
"'Course not." Dean wanted to smack his brother, knowing Sam was rolling his eyes even as the words left his mouth. But he didn't so much as twitch. Any movement sent pain through his head like the surf slamming into the beach during a rough storm. So Dean stayed quiet. "He never tells us stuff like that. So I have to watch for it."
"You do, huh?" John sounded amused.
"Dad, that's the way it works." Sam sounded like he was talking to a child...well, someone younger than him anyway. "We watch each other's backs."
"Yeah, you're right, Sammy," John agreed. Dean felt the bed dip as his father sat down next to them. "We'll wake him in a couple of hours to see if he wants dinner."
"Something light, Dad," Sam replied. "He's been nauseous."
How the hell did you know that, Sammy? Dean wondered. He shifted and was reminded that it wasn't a good idea to do so when the pain flared in his head, spearing through his neck.
Calloused fingers touched his temples and started a slow rub. The circular motion soothed him and he felt himself relax. "That's it, buddy, just take it easy," his father whispered. The massage continued and Dean felt himself begin to drift off to sleep.
"Dad," Sammy whispered. "It hasn't been this bad in a long time. I'm not sure what set it off."
"Don't worry about it, son. We'll stay here for a few days. Figure it out."
"Yeah, okay, Dad." There was a pause. "It's just that—he was—I could tell—I didn't—"
"I know, son," His father interrupted, his tone understanding. "You're mother used to get bad migraines, too."
"Really? Mom would get sick like this, too?"
Dean was just as surprised as his brother. Their father tried to share stories about their mother, but by the end of the telling, John's voice was often gruff and broken. Dean hated to hear him when he sounded like that. It made him feel helpless and his own throat would close up.
"Yeah. I didn't much like it either. All I could do was to try to help her through it. Just like you do with Dean." His father cleared his throat. "Sam, did he take anything?" The gentle touch was removed and Dean felt the bed shift. No, no, please, Dad, please.
"Uh-huh. I got him to take a couple of pain relievers." The mattress jiggled again as Sam stood up.
Dean heard water splashing into the sink. Moments later, the faucet was shut off and there was a dip in the mattress. A cool, wet washcloth was placed across his forehead.
It felt good. His little brother was a freakin' genius.
"What do you mean?" The fingers returned, this time brushing lightly against his neck. Thanks, Dad. A sigh escaped him and his father murmured something low in return. Dean didn't know what it was or even if John had actually said anything. He didn't much care. It was his voice that was soothing.
"It's a long story, Dad," Sam answered. "I didn't know when you were gonna be home and I had to do something."
He had been played. By his own brother. This called for revenge. A prank of the highest order. But later. When he didn't want to cut his head off, salt and burn it.
"You're doin' a good job, kiddo, looking after your brother."
Dean had to grudgingly agree. If called on it, Dean would argue that it wasn't Sam's job to look after him. But deep down it felt good to have a brother to watch his back. Even better that it was Sam. On that thought, Dean drifted off to sleep.