The Little Things Count More
Sam was rubbing his eyes from exhaustion, looking over at Dean who was lying in his motel bed, sleeping uncomfortably. The hunt they had just finished had been brutal. It took both of them and Bobby to bring down the beast that had terrorized a town and had almost killed a little girl. Sam couldn't help, but grin and shake his head as he remembered Dean scooping up the girl into his arms to keep her from being killed, only to get slimed by the monster's poisonous saliva. It was deadly to children, but for adults it was harmless, if you can call getting sick with the worst flu you've ever had in your life, harmless, but it wasn't fatal and Dean would just have to ride out the symptoms until it was out of his system. In his eyes, a small price to pay to save a child. According to Bobby, it would be over in two days. Dean was already feverish and achy, but the pain felt magnified because the venom was so potent and penetrated the muscles. Sam could hear Dean groan and saw him curl up into a ball on the bed occasionally.
Sam sighed. He had watched as the little girl thanked Dean, tears streaming down her face in a mix of fear and gratitude. He had comforted her by telling her that she would be okay and that the monster would never, ever hurt her again. She had tried to hug him, but Dean warned her that the slime on him would hurt her. She had asked with concern, "But what about you?" and he had told her that nothing could hurt him. That had made her smile and seeing that Dean's face didn't have any slime on it, she leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. Sam smiled remembering the flush that came over Dean's face. He had never been good at taking gratitude or compliments. He was also a sucker for little kids. Sam then hitched in a breath as he thought about Dean never becoming a father.
After the little girl had left with her grateful mom and dad, Dean had begun to feel the effects of the venom. He had started feeling weak and had begun to cramp up. Bobby and Sam had to hose Dean down before touching him to get the slime off and Sam watched as Dean struggled to keep himself standing and alert so that they could do it. Sam had always marveled at Dean's ability to completely override his body's natural inclination to give into pain. Once the slime was off, they both helped Dean back to the motel room, dried him off and put him into his sweats, then laid him down on the bed. Dean let out a relieved groan and fell asleep immediately.
Sam had told Bobby that he could take over from there, but Bobby had refused to go saying that Sam would need his help when the symptoms got worse. Sam knew though that it had been more than that. They both knew that every moment counted now and Sam had felt a deepening connection grow between them. He was grateful that Bobby had insisted on staying. They were just a month away from Dean leaving them and neither of them was willing to waste a single moment. Truth be told, he didn't think he could go through losing Dean alone.
He heard the motel room door open, breaking him from his thoughts. It was Bobby who had returned from the drug store with medications and food.
"Hey, Bobby," Sam greeted, his voice tired and distant.
"I got everything we might need, but I gotta be honest with you, I don't think any of this stuff will help much. Still, it couldn't hurt to try them. Anything to make it easier on Dean."
"Thanks," Sam said.
"How is he?" Bobby asked, noticing Sam's concern.
"He's been moaning in his sleep so I know he's hurting, but I wanted to let him get as much rest as he could before I woke him up."
Bobby could only nod. He watched Sam look away from Dean and fuss with his hands.
"He's going to be okay, son. This venom's not fatal," Bobby tried to reassure.
"I know. I'm not worried about that…well, I am, but –"
"I'm never going to be okay again," Sam said with a resignation that saddened Bobby.
"I can't believe there's only a month left…less than that now."
Bobby just looked at Sam, unable to find the right words, if there were any at all.
"A part of me wants to go back and give Dean what he had wanted in the first place. I was so obsessed with saving him, I didn't even want to consider the idea of wasting time doing things that weren't as important as saving him…now, knowing that there isn't a way to…the trickster was right."
"I wouldn't put any stock in what the trickster told you."
"He showed me what life would be like for me without Dean in it. What I might become if I let Dean's death drive me to revenge. I wasted time just being with my brother, Bobby. How can I ever get that back? Give that time back to him?" Sam asked rhetorically.
His face then became wistful.
"You know, when we were kids, if there was a cold or flu or anything that was going around, I'd catch it. Dean seemed immune…"
Sam smiled. Bobby just sat and listened, understanding that Sam needed to talk things out.
"Anyway, every time I'd get sick, Dean would be there, making me eat that chicken noodle soup in a can, telling me stories to help me sleep…"
Bobby could only smile at a young man's memories of being a little boy.
"He rubbed that pink calamine lotion on me when I had the chicken pox so I wouldn't scratch so much…he'd rub my back if I was throwing up…God, I can't remember a single time when I was sick or hurt that he wasn't there fixing it. Dad had been there for the big injuries from the hunts, but that was only until Dean had learned to do the first aid himself then it would be him stitching me up while Dad went out and killed the monster."
Sam looked over at his brother and his eyes began to well.
"And now, I only have a month left with him…he's sick as a dog and all I can do for him is wait it out until it passes then we go back to hunting until the next time he gets hurt or when…"
Bobby felt every frustration and sadness that Sam was. For all the knowledge and experience that he had, he still couldn't save the one person who was worth everything to them and in no small way, to the fate of humanity. Sometimes Bobby found himself wondering if the deal had been a way to take the best advantage they had for winning the war out of the picture.
"I know how you feel. I wish I had the words to make it all right, but I don't," Bobby said.
"I know, Bobby. Lately, I can't stop thinking about everything Dean has done for me and I just feel like I haven't done nearly enough for him."
"It's true, I mean, I've been thinking about when we were kids and how unfair it was that Dean never got to be a regular kid because of me."
"Does Dean think that?" Bobby asked softly.
"Of course not, he just jokes that he was never just a regular kid, that he was the kid with a superhero for a dad and a geek for a brother, but I know he's just saying that to make me feel better."
"Dean did what had to be done to keep you and your dad safe. And he will for you, until the day he can't do it anymore. It's how he's built, but, make no mistake, when it comes to you, there are no limits he won't cross. Don't ask him to do otherwise. He knows no other way."
Bobby saw Sam's anguish and it cut him to his heart. He understood. The look that he had exchanged with Dean when he had thanked him for saving his life was one a father would give to his son. Dean had risked everything to save him from his nightmare and had opened up to him about considering him like a father. He had no idea what those words had meant to Bobby. It had been those words that had snapped him out of his dream. It was what Dean did best, reaching out when it was sorely needed. Bobby often wondered how either of them would survive without that, without Dean coming to their rescue.
Their thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of Dean waking up and groaning. Sam rushed over to the bed.
"Hey, how you feeling?"
Dean opened his eyes, squinting at the minimal light in the room and waited for his vision to clear. He saw Sam and grinned groggily.
"I'm just fan-tastic," Dean said, the sarcasm not lost on Sam and Bobby.
"Can you sit up to take some pills? They might help a little."
Dean nodded, but as soon as he tried he winced and his strength gave way. Bobby helped Sam prop Dean up with pillows until he was comfortable. Dean's lack of resistance was a sure sign that he wasn't feeling himself. Dean was breathing as if he had just run a marathon and grunted from the spasms that were hitting him. Sam handed him some pills then a cup of water, but pain riddled through Dean and his hand trembled, dropping the cup.
"Crap…" Dean uttered through the pain.
Sam refilled the cup and helped Dean swallow the piils. Dean leaned back against the pillows and just grinned.
"You're just loving this, aren't you?" Dean teased.
"What?" Sam said, feigning innocence.
"You know what. Me being sick and you having all the control," Dean then playfully scowled.
Sam's expression softened and Dean caught it.
"About time. It's my turn," Sam said, but Dean had picked up that Sam hadn't meant what he had intended with those words. Instead of a humorous jibe, it had ended up sounding as if Sam really felt he owed him something.
"You all right?" Dean asked, worried.
"Yeh, I'm not the one puking his guts out," Sam said, feebly putting up a brave face again, but he felt it crumbling fast and he knew he couldn't hold it for long.
Sam couldn't keep back his emotions anymore and had to get some air.
"I'll be right back. I…I forgot something…in the car," Sam said as he hurried out of the room.