Author's Note: Thank you everyone for the reviews. Many people asked for a second chapter, so finally here it is – for some reason this was just 'hard' to write, so apologies for the delay in posting.
Five days later, one more successful hunt under their belts and Sam just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep for a week.
He stirred the runny eggs on his plate as he watched his brother shovel another heaped forkful of bacon into his mouth. A small drop of grease ran from the corner of Dean's mouth as he struggled to chew and he cringed as Dean wiped it away on the back of his hand before wiping his hand down the leg of his jeans. Now it was definitely time they stopped to do some laundry.
He pushed his own bacon to the side, opting instead to pick up the limp piece of toast before it soaked up any more of the runny egg yolk spreading across his plate.
"You eating that?" Dean asked, snagging a piece of bacon off his plate.
"Nah, all yours."
His stomach rolled as he sat opposite his brother, watching as Dean engrossed himself with eating as much food as he could with minimal chewing.
He tried to hide his relief when Dean deemed it time to leave, having demolished every morsel on the plate in front oh him. It might be only mid-morning, but after an exhaustive night he was more than ready to hit the sack. Laundry could wait.
"Finished?" Dean asked.
"You've barely touched you food."
"Think you've eaten enough for the both of us."
Dean gave his brother an assessing appraisal. "You okay?"
"Come on Dean, it's been a long night, right now all I wanna do is sleep."
"Yeah, you look like crap …little beauty sleep wouldn't go astray."
"You looked in the mirror lately?"
"Don't need to Sammy, 'm still pulling the ladies."
Sam couldn't stifle the small laugh. "Ladies? ...dude, you're using the term a little loosely don't ya think."
"Hey, at least they're breathing."
The tired smile dropped from Sam's face as he turned away and headed out the door.
Sleep didn't come easy.
His body was exhausted but his mind refused to rest. Every time he closed his eyes he could feel her - reaching out to him, pressing her body against his, pressing him back into the wall, cold hands running over his skin. Try as he might he just couldn't let it go.
An involuntary shiver swept across his body and he shifted uneasily in the bed, looking across at his brother's relaxed pose in envy.
"I think maybe there's something wrong with me."
"Come on Dean, you don't think it was a little freaky …what happened in that house?"
"What the hell are you talking about Sam?"
"You said it yourself Dean …you know, how I always seem to attract dead chicks ...the woman in white, that zombie chick who broke my hand, and lets not forget Meg."
"Sam, you see dead people, it doesn't get much freakier than that."
"Ah …just forget it."
"Seriously dude, you just need to get out more …get a little action."
"…You know, technically, Meg wasn't dead."
"Thanks Dean, I feel so much better now."
Dean's barely suppressed chuckle echoed through the room.
Sam turned on his side and pulled the covers in closer.
With their next likely job in a small town eight hours drive away, Dean took to the task of getting them there in the shortest possible time with his usual single minded purpose.
Sam didn't want to whine, but he would have appreciated a couple more stops along the way. In Dean's mind, the only reason for stopping was to fill his 'baby' with gas or to grab something to eat, two tasks he could usually undertake at the one stop.
His whole body ached and he suspected he was coming down with a cold, maybe the flu. Looking at the clear sky and the sun glistening off the windscreen made the prospect of a cold so much worse. At least when it was miserable and dreary he felt somewhat justified in staying indoors, bundling up in blankets and keeping the chill at bay.
With a bit of luck and a few pills he was hoping he could nip his cold in the bud before it hit him full force. He glanced across at his brother, tempted to suggest that they take a few days off, but he knew the suggestion would come with a hefty price. Dean would probe and question him until he finally relented into revealing that he didn't feel great, and then Dean would fuss and worry and confine him to a dingy motel room until he deemed him healthy enough to be let out. He wasn't quite ready to go down that path yet.
"Room or food first?" Dean asked as he took the turn-off from the highway towards their destination.
"Whatever." Sam opened his eyes and looked at the rural landscape whizzing past.
The sun was already low in the sky so chances were their eating options would be limited in a town this size.
He cringed as Dean pulled the Impala to a stop beside a bustling bar, the town's main hub of activity after dark if the noise and crowd was anything to judge by.
"Lets grab ourselves a few beers and see if we can't scrounge up a couple of burgers or something." Enthusiasm oozed from Dean as he cut the ignition.
"Yeah …or something…" Sam mumbled, following his brother.
Sam reckoned half the town was in the bar and he couldn't help but wonder if there was a festival or something on that they'd missed the signs for. Pushing through the crowd, his eyes were drawn to the large banner hung on the far wall, wishing 'Ron' a happy birthday. Guess that explained it then.
He took the beer that Dean passed him, enjoying the feel of the first cool mouthful of liquid as it slid down his sore throat.
He resigned himself to following Dean's lead, seeing no chance of them leaving the bar in the next little while, not with the display on the dance floor that Dean couldn't peel his eyes from.
He kept close to Dean's back as his brother weaved through the crowd, forcing down the feeling of suffocation as bodies pressed against his, the heat stifling and the noise deafening. As someone pressed against his back he couldn't suppress the flinch that ran through his body as he eased himself away, desperate to escape.
He took a few quick gulps of his beer, nearly careening into Dean's back as he came to a sudden halt.
"Hey, check it out." Dean gestured towards two women standing a few feet away, not waiting for Sam's reply as he adjusted their course towards the intended conquests.
The night suddenly got a whole lot longer, Sam thought, as he shadowed his brother.
Sam tried to think of a polite way to tell the attractive brunette that he just wasn't interested. Every time he eased away she followed, pressing against him, stretching up to whisper nonsense in his ear. He scanned the area for Dean, hoping for a rescue, but his brother had disappeared a good twenty minutes ago and was no where to be seen.
He was going to kill Dean when he found him.
His head was throbbing in time with the music now, its beat consistent and unrelenting. He regretted the couple of beers he'd had on an empty stomach knowing they were contributing to the vague feeling of nausea growing in proportion to his pounding head.
He took a step towards the exit but an arm snaked around his middle, pulling him back. Memories pushed to the surface and he felt a moment of panic as the unfamiliar hand massaged the bare strip of flesh at his waist where his shirt rode up. He jerked out of her grasp with more force than was necessary as his breath hitched in his throat. He needed to get away.
The air in the bar was stifling and the crowd seemed to converge, hindering his escape. He tried to focus on the closest exit sign as he shoved forwards, desperate to reach the fresh air outside.
He pushed out of the side exit door with such force that he nearly sent himself sprawling on the gravel outside. Stumbling to the closest wall he leant his back against it, taking in large lungfuls of crisp evening air. As the energy left his body, weariness washed over him and he slid down until his legs were stretched out in front and his head hung low towards his chest. He was exhausted.
Dean watched his companion as she sashayed her way to the 'little girls room'. He'd lost sight of his younger brother a while back and only hoped that Sam was having as much fun as he was. For a small town, this place sure knew how to party.
Pulling out his cell, he speed dialled his brother, praying that his call wasn't going to be too inopportune in timing.
When Sam didn't answer on the first couple of rings a smile spread across his face. At last, he thought, maybe his little brother was taking his advice and getting some action. When the call went through to voicemail he hung up. Keeping an eye on the door to the ladies room, he waited a moment and dialled Sam again. When he went through to voicemail again he pushed aside the small niggle of worry and left his brother a short message telling him to have fun and asking him to call.
The shrill ring of his phone intruded into his subconscious but it wasn't enough to force Sam to move. When it rang again he instinctively felt around in his pocket for the offending phone but abandoned the search when it stopped ringing.
He pulled up his knees and wrapped his arms around them before resting his head down on their firm strength. His headache refused to let up.
A warm bed and a quiet room were at the top of his 'want' list but he couldn't bring himself to move just yet. Days of physically pushing himself coupled with lack of sleep were taking their toll and his reserves were close to rock bottom if not already completely drained.
The loud bang of a door slamming in the distance broke through his reprieve, shaking him to sudden awareness. Taking a few deep breaths he tried to steady his breathing and get himself under control. His body felt stiff and cold and he realised he must have nodded off.
Pushing himself to his feet took a little more effort than it should have. He just hoped that Dean was still in the bar and hadn't already left to spend the night with his latest hook-up, taking the keys to the Impala with him. The prospect of walking around a strange town looking for a motel room wasn't appealing.
Stepping around the side of the building he spotted the Impala parked exactly where they'd left it and he breathed out a sigh of relief. Now he just needed to locate Dean. Not up to facing the inside of the bar again, he made his way over to the car, dialling his brother as he walked.
"Dean …are you ah …you getting a motel room tonight or…"
"What? Worried about sharing?"
"God Dean, no."
Dean looked down at the girl attached to his side. "If you want a little privacy just give me the word …I'm sure I can keep myself occupied …no problem at all."
Sam heard the feminine giggle through the phone.
"Don't sweat it Sam, have fun, be safe, I'll see you in the morning." Dean disconnected the call with a smile on his face.
Sam listened to the flat dial tone for a moment before slipping the phone back into his pocket. Just great.
Heart pounding heavy in his chest, Sam jerked awake from the nightmare.
He remembered checking-in to the small non-descript motel about a mile from the bar, but he didn't remember getting onto the bed or falling asleep. He looked around the room, lit with an eerie glow from the neon signage outside, his eyes coming to rest on the other bed. He felt uncomfortably insecure not having Dean asleep in the nearby bed, not that he'd openly admit that fact.
Sitting up, he brushed his fingers through his hair. A deep cough racked his frame, a persistent rattle settling in his chest as it rose and fell with each breath. He felt like crap.
Kicking off his boots and shedding his jacket, he pulled aside the covers and climbed back into bed. He regretted not taking the Impala or at least getting his duffle and a few aspirin before leaving the bar.
Pulling the covers tight he fell into a restless sleep.
Dean watched his brother sleep, concern etched on his face. It had been easy to find Sam, the town only had a couple of motels and this was not only the cheapest, but the closest one to the bar. A discreet enquiry and well placed smile secured him the room number and a few minutes later he was quietly slipping inside.
Sam didn't wake.
A quick glance confirmed his new found suspicion that Sam had been the room's only occupant. So much for his worry that he'd 'interrupt' his brother – the lying bastard.
The realisation that Sam was sick hit him a moment later. A light sheen of sweat covered Sam's forehead and he mumbled occasional nonsense as he shifted restlessly under the covers.
If he was completely honest with himself, he had to admit that he'd been kind of expecting this. His brother had been pushing his food around on his plate for the last week rather than eating, and if anything, his sleeping patterns were more irregular than usual.
With a sigh he went back to the Impala and retrieved their bags and the first aid kit. They'd be staying put for a few days at least; the job could wait.
Grabbing the thermometer from their kit, he moved to the side of Sam's bed. That his brother was running a fever was a sure thing but somehow by going through the process of taking a reading it made it more real.
Dean brushed aside Sam's hair from his ear and inserted the thermometer.
"No." Sam mumbled.
"Shhhh …'m just taking your temperature …you feel a little hot there kiddo."
"D…ean?" Sam slurred.
"Yeah, the one and only."
"Yeah, still me, in the flesh." Dean removed the thermometer. "Definitely a little warm …I'm just gonna get you a little ice, cool you down a bit, okay?"
He gave Sam a reassuring squeeze on the arm before slipping from the room to get the ice, returning just minutes later with a tub of ice cubes in one hand.
"Yeah, it's me ...again"
"Don't go." Sam whispered.
"I'm not going anywhere Sam."
Pulling off the bed covers, he tugged Sam up until he was sitting against the headboard. "You weigh a goddam ton little bother."
"Let's just get a few of these layers off okay?" Dean started unbuttoning his brother's shirt.
"No." Sam pushed him away.
"Sam, we've gotta cool you down." Dean eased the shirt off and tossed it aside.
"No, please …don't."
Dean reached down to Sam's belt buckle. "Could use a little help here Sam," he muttered.
Sam's breath hitched in his throat and he threw out a fist, catching Dean on the side of the face.
"God dammit Sam." He growled.
"Who the hell else would it be?"
"I thought…" Sam rocked forward. "I'm sorry."
Dean held his brother steady and leant in close. "You with me now?"
"Right, lets get these jeans off and get you settled …okay?"
With a bit of manoeuvring he got Sam's jeans off, fed him a few Tylenol and lay him back down. Wrapping some ice in fresh towels, he placed it strategically around his brother, hoping it would do the trick and reduce Sam's fever before it rose any further.
As Sam settled back into slumber, he made himself comfortable on the other bed. Deep in thought he watched his brother. He'd nursed Sam through numerous fevers over the years, but never before had Sam hit him, delirious or not.
Dean spent two long days pumping his brother full of fluids and pills and listening to Sam's monologue as the fever worked itself free from his body. One thing with Sam was always a certain, drunk or fevered, he always revealed his inner thoughts, giving Dean a clear insight into what was going on inside his head.
Only when Sam finally kept down a full bowl of soup did he feel able to relax his guard, reassured that he was on the road to recovery, physically at least.
Sam looked up at his brother.
"I reckon this has gone on long enough."
"You …not sleeping, the nightmares…"
"Don't give me that 'I'm fine' bullshit…" Dean snapped before reigning in his temper and bringing his voice back to an even keel. "You wanna talk about it?" He asked nonchalantly.
Sam took a deep breath, let it out slowly and nodded. "Yeah."