Notes:

Ok, ok I know I've posted like a billion oneshots lately...ok, so it's only been two, but still. I don't like getting into the habit of it. But hey, I can't help it when an idea strike and begs to be written, so here is yet another relatively pointless oneshot. I tried to squeeze it into Reminiscence, but it just didn't quite fit(plus the timeline is jacked) Like many fanfic writers, I choose to channel my experiences through our dear boys. This is based on my delightful encounter with the Flu this past October.

oOo-o-O-o-O-oOo-o-O-o-O-oOo-oOo-o-O-o-O-oOo-o-O-o-O-oOo-oOo-o-O-o-O-oOo-o-O-o-O-oOo-oOo-o-O-o-O-oOo-o-O-o-O-oOo-oOo-o-O-o-O-oOo-o-O-o-O-oOo-oOo-o-O-o-O-oOo-o-O-o-O-oOo-oOo-oOo

"-You can't handle the tru-!"

Click. Fingers made a soft tapping sound as they moved over a keyboard.

"-George Forman grill is great for fast, easy me-"

Click. Tap tap tap.

"-pineapple under the sea? Spo-"

Another click, accompanied by a soft chuckle. Lightening fast typing.

"-You never loved me, Blair! You just wanted to make Nate jeal-"

"Hell no." Dean turned the TV off as fast as his thumb could get to and press the "power" button.

"I swear, the crap that gets on the air..." Dean shook his head as he tossed the remote on the other side of his bed and turned attention to Sam.

"Anything?"

Sam glanced up from the computer to Dean and shrugged.

"A body was found a few states over. Mutilated, messy. Kinda just looks like a whack-job killing, but other than that..." Sam sighed and shut his MacBook with a snap "...I got nothing."

Dean nodded and made a low "hmm" sound. His expression darkened after a moment

"What about the other thing?"

Sam's expression clouded as well, in a look to mirror his brother's. He shook his head and leaned back in his chair, wrapping his long arms around himself.

"No. No trace available. She must have ditched her cell first thing."

Dean thumped his fist against the mattress in disappointed frustration. Sam shook his head slowly and stood up.

"I don't get it. What could Bela possibly want with The Colt? He asked as he snagged his jacket off the back of his chair and pulled it on.

Dean pushed himself forcefully off the bed and stood up, voice raised slightly.

"Sell it, most likely. No way she stole the damn thing to help anyone but herself. I'm not even sure she is capable of helping another living creature."

Sam nodded in agreement and zipped his jacket up before returning to his seat.

"I swear to God if she sells it..."

Dean trailed off and after hearing no response, he turned to Sam. Dean's eyebrows dipped inquisitively "Going out?"

Sam looked down at his jacket.

"Oh. No. Just kinda chilly in here."

Dean looked around, as if he might be able to see the temperature of the air, before giving Sam another funny look.

"Oookay."

He soon returned to his ranting. "The woman's got no conscience, no soul, no heart. She's almost gotten us killed a few times now." Dean laughed bitterly "Almost makes ya wish we would have let the bitch drown, huh?"

Sam breathed out a short laugh. The part of him that said that he had to save as many people as possible disagreed a bit with Dean, and the other part that kept a tally of the growing number of ways Bela had endangered them concurred heartily.

"Yeah, almost."

Dean was pacing about the room now.

"Not to mention this new demon, Lillix-"

"Lillith-" Sam flatly corrected.

"Lillith! The demon that wants you dead. And The Colt was the only weapon we had. Probably the only thing that could stop her...it...whatever the damn thing is!"

Sam turned up the collar of his jacket and wrapped his arms tighter around himself.

"It'll be fine, Dean. We've got time."

"Yeah well not much." Dean mumbled, almost inaudibly.

"Hey..." Sam caught Dean's arm as he paced by and forced his attention to him. Dean looked down as if startled by being pulled from his thoughts.

"We've...got.time." Sam repeated, emphasizing each word in a steady, determined voice. His gaze held on Dean with the same quality until finally Dean nodded and offered a small, unsure smile. He gently pulled away from Sam's grip and took a seat in the chair opposite him. Dean breathed out a groaning sigh and rubbed his hands over his face. Neither said anything and Dean soon took to gazing pensively at the ground.

"I just feel like we can't win, man. No matter how bad things get, and my God have they gotten bad..." Dean shook his head slowly. "...It seems like they only get worse."

Sam shrugged in resigned agreement; he had no evidence to argue otherwise. "Comes with the territory I guess."

Dean lifted his eyes to Sam, a look of surprise spreading over his face. Usually when he would say something even remotely negative, Sam would pounce and some how find an upside to it all. Not tonight. Dean hadn't quite noticed how bad Sam looked before, but he noticed now. Sam sat, slouched in the chair with his arms crossed tightly around his chest. He looked tired and worn and now that Dean was paying closer attention, he was even able to hear that Sam's breathing was different. More halted and just a bit more audible.

"Hey you don't look a hundred percent. You feelin' ok?"

Sam started to nod, but replaced the movement with a slight shrug. He didn't elaborate past that and remained quiet for a few moments.

"Ya know what, I'm actually just gonna take a hot shower and go to bed. I'm pretty beat."

Sam stood and walked over to rummage through his bag.

"Another shower? You had one when we got back from our hunt a few hours ago. Ya plannin' on using up all the water in this joint?" Dean poked playfully.

"Yeah right. Five of my shower times wouldn't even equal one of yours, Dean." Sam threw back as he grabbed some clothes and moved towards the bathroom.

Dean chuckled and flopped back down on his bed. He immediately grabbed the TV remote and resumed surfing of the channels.

"-spiritual interpretations of universal ideas.-"

"Luuucy-!"

"-twice today. I'm an assho-"

"-The lion stalks its prey-"

"Screw it." Dean clicked off the TV and decided that sleep would easily beat any crappy television the hotel had to offer.

o-o-O-o-O-o-oOo-o-O-o-O-o-o

Dean stirred and repositioned the lumpy pillow beneath his head. He grumbled softly when he couldn't get comfortable and opened his eyes. The room was still dark...and insanely warm. The sweat causing Dean's shirt to stick to his back was a reminder of the reason why he had been pulled from sleep. He rolled over and squinted at the neon red numbers of the clock as they gradually swam into sleepy focus. It was 3:38 in the morning. Dean groaned again and threw the covers off of himself. He stood and quietly moved towards the bathroom.

Upon opening the door again, light cast a wedge of visibility into the room. Dean peeked out, making sure he hadn't woken Sam, and was reaching for the light-switch when he noticed movement coming from his brother's bed. Dean's eyes adjusted past the light and into the darkness. He was able to make out the blanket piled mound that was Sam, his back facing the bathroom door. Dean's eyebrows dipped when he noticed more movement and he opened the bathroom door a little more to cast a wider streak of light about the room. The extra light revealed a full view of Sam's prone form. It also revealed what the movement was that had caught Dean's eye was: Sam was shivering. Curiosity and mild confusion faded quickly to concern.

"Sam?"

Dean abandoned his previous place in the doorway and rushed around to the side of Sam's bed. He flicked on the light that hung over the table. Sam squeezed his eyes shut against the sudden, assaulting glare of light and Dean realized that he hadn't been asleep. Dean quickly knelt down on the floor next to the bed as he swept his eyes over Sam's violently shivering form.

"Mm-m-m ok." Sam forced out through chattering teeth before Dean could pose the question.

"'Ok'? Uh huh, you definitely look it. What's wrong with you?"

"Can't s-stop...can't stop sh-shivering."

Dean realized then why the room was so warm; Sam must have turned the heater on full-blast. A twinge of panic poked at Dean as the hunt they had gone on earlier that night came back to him. It had been a salt and burn. The vengeful spirit of the night was a witch who was hanged in the Salem witch trials. She had attacked Sam, but Dean had torched her entire grave-bed before she could do anything...but now Dean wasn't so sure. What if the bones had ignited a second too late? Had she touched Sam? Had the bitch done something to him?

"The witch. Did she hurt you?" Dean's mind went immediately over the past few hunts they had been on, sorting through anything that might have done harm to Sam.

"That haunted house in Hermosa?"

"Dean-"

"The poltergeist got me not you-"

"Dean-"

"That demon jumped you back in San Francisco, but I-"

"Dean!"

Sam grabbed Dean's arm to get his attention.

"What?" Dean snapped, looking wildly at him.

Sam relaxed back against the bed and resumed his shivering.

"Mmnothing did this-s to me. Ss'cept maybe the twenty degree weather outs-side."

Dean blinked as if he didn't comprehend what Sam had said to him. Sam smiled weakly and he closed his eyes.

"I'ss the Flu, Dean. Tha's all."

Dean's shoulders sagged in minute relief before new concern set in. He tucked under a gap in Sam's blankets and made sure there were no more anywhere else before bringing a hand up to Sam's forehead. Dean frowned.

"Feels like you've got a pretty bad fever."

Sam chuckled lightly.

"Figured."

Dean let his hand fall and he leaned back, fixing Sam with a stern look.

"How long have you felt like this?"

Sam just shrugged weakly.

"That long, huh?" Dean sighed loudly and pushed himself up. He filled a glass with water and snagged the medical kit from the corner.

"Should've said something, Sammy." Dean said in a low voice as he rummaged for the thermometer.

"Jus the Fl-"

"You've had a crappy immune system all your life. You know how badly colds affect you, much less the Flu, so save the "it's no big deal" bit for someone who believes it."

Sam closed his eyes as the thermometer in his mouth gauged the extent of his fever. Dean waited, staring at the device until it beeped. Sam blinked sleepily as he waited to hear the results. Dean's eyebrows raised slowly and his frown deepened. Sam always got the worst symptoms of colds, including the high fevers...but never this high.

"What is it?" Sam tried to say, but only managed to mouth the words.

Dean clicked off the thermometer and tossed it back in the bag. He threw a quick look at Sam before turning and reaching for the cup of water on the table behind him. Sam batted weakly at Dean's arm.

"Dean..."

Dean turned back and helped Sam sit up enough so he could drink, but he said nothing. Sam closed his eyes at the pull of sleep and fatigue on his body, but refused to succumb. He pulled at a lump of sheet next to where Dean's forearm was perched.

"Dean, what'd it say?"

Dean finally looked over at him and stared with an expression that said he clearly was not happy with what the thermometer had told him nor with what Sam had failed to. He didn't find any comfort either in the fact that Sam's shivering had nearly subsided; he must have been in that state long before Dean woke up to find him.

"104.6." He said finally.

Sam lifted his eyebrows briefly and closed his eyes again.

"That would explain the head-on-fire feeling."

"This isn't funny, Sam."

"I didn't hear anyone laugh."

"You realize that at this temperature your brain could sustain serious damage."

Sam smiled weakly, supplying the comment that he knew Dean, under normal circumstances, would have said himself.

"Even more than it had before?"

Dean felt even less like laughing at the failed joke when he heard the wheezing behind the gentle chuckle Sam forced out. To add to the hilarity, Sam let out a few, thick coughs; the aftermath of which left him wheezing even more. Sam's features scrunched and his chest rose and fell quickly to make up for the air that the coughing fit had taken from him. Dean frowned at how young and small Sam looked at the moment. Anything that made a six foot four, twenty-four year old man look anything less than just that, wasn't good. And Dean didn't like it. Sam's colds were always nasty, but it looked like this one might take the gold.

"Cou'you turn off the heat?"

Sam's eye remained closed during his request and his words slurred lazily.

"No." Dean said flatly. "Only one way to get rid of a fever and that's to burn it out. The heater stays."

Sam made a move to push the blankets off of himself, but Dean gently eased them back.

"Blankets too, Sammy."

Sam let out a quiet, protesting moan and finally stopped fighting the rest his body beckoned for. Dean sat still for a moment, making sure Sam was completely out, before shaking his head and standing up. He pulled the nearest chair closer to Sam's bed and took a seat.

For the briefest moment, Dean felt silly. Sam was twenty-four years old. Grown up and more than capable of taking care of himself. Dean realized this, but that fact didn't make him return to his own bed and go back to sleep. Dean always sat with Sam during his illnesses. He was always there if Sam woke up in the middle of the night. Always there when a fever would send Sam into a fit of bad dreams and hallucinations. And always there when Sam opened his eyes to look at him through sweat-clumped bangs after his fever broke.

Dean rolled his eyes at himself when Sam's strange behavior earlier that evening finally made sense. Sam had said the room was cold. He had even put on his jacket. He had taken a hot shower when he had already had one just hours earlier. And Dean hadn't noticed because he was too busy bitching about Bela, the stolen Colt, Lilith and the other low points in their life. "Way to make him feel better, Dean. Dumping all your thoughts of how the world is out to get you both and there's no bright side? Good job. Why don't you remind him that you've only got a month left while you're at it. That'd be a real cherry on the sundae."

-o-O-oOo-O-o-

Dean sat patiently in his chair. The long period of sitting still and sleep deprivation sending him into a stupor-like state. Somewhere a little after five, Sam's breathing became even more shallow. His chest rose only enough to take in about one fourth the proper amount of air, fell back down again, then quickly rose again in another strangled intake of breath. Dean leaned forward and turned an ear to listen better. Sam's breathing seemed to be accompanied by a second inhale coming deep from within his chest, making it evident that an unwanted substance had settled in his lungs, restricting his respiration. Dean's eyes flicked up to Sam's face. The younger Winchester's features were brightly blushed and tense. Dean got the strong impression that Sam was having to use a considerable amount of energy and concentration on getting enough oxygen. Sam shifted a little and let out a quiet sound.

Dean sat tensely back in his chair again when it was obvious that Sam's fidgeting was not that which precedes waking. He ran a hand over his tired eyes and let his head fall back to look up at the ceiling. Dean couldn't remember the last time, recently anyway, that Sam had been sick. Cuts, bruises, the occasional gunshot wound, run-ins with spirits and a whole other array of supernatural creatures, yes. But hardly was Sam Winchester ever brought down by the common cold. When he was younger, he got sick every once in awhile and it was never a cakewalk. For Sam or for Dean. John would be excluded from the cakewalk as well, but honestly Dean couldn't remember one time that John had been at Sam's aid when he was sick.

Dean didn't blame him for it. John was busy. He was always hunting, and a good number of the times his youngest had fallen ill, Sam and Dean had both been too young to join him anyway. Anyway, Dean always had the situation under control. It was never anything he couldn't handle. Dean stopped his thoughts with a chuckle. Those last two thoughts weren't exactly true. Sure, Dean knew more about first-aid, cleaning wounds and stitching them up than most people, but it hadn't always been that way. Dean smiled sheepishly to himself and shook his head gently. The memory of the first time he'd been left to tend to a sick Sam reminded him just how much knowledge he'd gained over the years.

-o-O-oOo-O-o-

"Dad? Dad, something's wrong. Something's wrong with Sam."

"Dean, calm down. Take a breath and tell me what's going on."

"He's shaking. Really badly, he won't stop. He says he can't. That he's cold."

"Ok. Feel his forehead. Is he warm?"

"Uhh..." A pause on the line. "Yeah. He's really warm."

"Uh huh. Does he ache?"

"Uh...uh, I don't-don't know."

"Dean, it's alright. Just ask him."

A rushed and muffled voice on the line, followed by an even more muffled and quiet voice.

"Yeah. He says he is."

John's weary sigh. "He'll be fine, Dean. It's just the Flu."

"What? A Flu? What's that? Do you know how to kill those?"

John's laugh. "It's not a creature, Dean. It's a virus. A cold."

"...Oh."

"Just make sure Sammy stays plenty hydrated. Keep him wrapped up and warm. In order to kill the virus he has to sweat it out. You got all that?"

"Yeah, yeah. Ok."

"I'll be back tomorrow night."

Dean hung up the hotel's phone when the line clicked and turned all attention back to his four year old little brother. Sam's small body was wracked with tremors and his sea-green eyes looked up at Dean in a wide, shiny, and scared stare. Dean had been in a full-on freak out ever since Sam's symptoms started in, but John said he'd be ok and Dean knew his Dad always knew best.

"It's ok, Sammy. Dad said it's just a Flu."

"Was-s-at?"

"Dunno really. Dad said it was some kind of cold."

Sam pulled the two blankets wrapped around him closer and attempted to curl up into an even tighter ball than he was already in. Dean bit his lower lip, anxious to do anything to help Sam get better. He knew little about colds. He'd had a few himself, but he couldn't recall many of the methods used. He remembered catching a small cold when he was three. Mary had wrapped him in his favorite blanket, scooped him up in her arms and rocked him to sleep. Sleep always seemed to help, Dean knew that much.

"Just go to sleep. You'll feel better."

More than just a fever caused Sam's eyes to glisten as they looked up at his older brother.

"What if-f-f I d-don't wake up?"

Now that Sam had voiced it, the thought scared Dean too. In his opinion, Sam looked in way worse shape than just a Flu and he couldn't help but be worried that it was something much worse. But John had said it would be fine. And Sam needed reassurance right now.

"You will. I promise."

A tear rolled down Sam's flushed face.

"I'm s-scared." He whispered.

Dean knew it wasn't the time to admit to Sam that he was too. Instead he sat on the bed next to Sam and took him in his arms. Dean wrapped his arms around Sam's shaking shoulders and held him tightly, somehow hoping that if he held on tight enough he could stop Sam's shivering and cure him completely.

"Just sleep. I'll be here. It's ok, Sammy." Dean said softly.

Sam sniffed a few more times and snuggled into the crook of his big brother's shoulder. Gradually he stopped shivering, and after many assuring words from Dean, his crying reduced to a few, final sniffs and he dropped off to sleep. Dean was relieved to see the disappearance of Sam's shaking, but was only given more concern by the sweltering temperature radiating off of him. Dean was many times tempted to free Sam of the blankets and give him some relief from the heat, but always remembered what his father had instructed him to do.

Throughout the night, Dean fought off sleep and continued to hold his little brother. He attempted a few times to maneuver Sam off of himself and onto the bed in a more comfortable position, but Sam would always protest in a sleepy moan and cling tighter to him. This amused Dean so that he faked attempts to move Sam a few more times just to get the reaction, but he soon realized it was probably cruel and stopped. The thing that scared Dean the most were the times when Sam would act agitated. Twitching violently and sometimes yelling in his sleep. Sometimes Sam yelled for his father, sometimes he would yell for his brother. But every time it shot fear into Dean's heart, and he would hold Sam closer and say the first comforting words that he could think of.

Around six in the morning, after a few hours of Sam sleeping peacefully without interruption, Dean slipped off to sleep as well. It wasn't until eight o' clock that evening that he was awoken by a familiar hand on his shoulder. Dean woke to see his father smiling gently down at him. He looked quickly to the small figure still curled up in his arms. Sam still slept quietly in his grasp; his curly hair clinging to his forehead in wet strands and his young face glistening with a fine sheen of sweat. John placed a hand on Sam's forehead and nodded to Dean. Dean looked back to Sam and did the same as his father. Sam's skin was clammy, but cool to the touch. Dean looked quickly up at John with a hopeful expression. John smiled and rustled Dean's hair.

"His fever's broken. He's gonna be fine."

-o-O-oOo-O-o-

Dean smiled to himself. He was in the same place he was over twenty years ago. His smile faded a bit when he realized that he would give anything to bring back the days where the worst thing that could happen to Sam was a cold. Where it was just him trying to make Sam feel better and get through the Flu instead of stitching him up after a run-in with a Wendigo or a fight with a Vampire. Dean found it ironic how sometimes his and Sam's problems just took on new shape, but never really disappeared. Right then, Sam's problems were at maybe a four on the scale, but tomorrow they could-. Dean closed his eyes and shook his head at himself. He inhaled deeply and rubbed at the back of his neck. He chuckled. He had been lost within his own head for way too long and his thoughts were beginning to turn ugly. Not a moment too soon was his attention recaptured.

Sam twitched violently and mumbled something in his sleep. Dean quickly looked up. Sam's hands fisted and released the blanket. His eyes moved rapidly behind their lids and his face contorted with emotion. He mumbled something under his breath again and Dean moved to sit on the edge of the chair.

"No. N-n-n-no, 've gotta save'im, Da-. Haveto, no...Can't..."

Dean had to strain his ears to hear what Sam was mumbling.

"Gotta-gotta fin'a-NO!"

Dean flinched back at Sam's sudden cry.

"NO! NO! DEAN! RUN!"

Dean swallowed hard as a pang went through his chest. He had a damn good idea as to what Sam was having a nightmare about, but he denied his brain the clearance to create a clearer picture of what his brother's fevered mind might be seeing. He quickly moved to Sam's side and gripped his shoulders.

"Sam."

Sam shouted again and flinched violently away from Dean's touch.

"NO! Get away from him!"

Dean regained a grip on Sam's arm and he shook him.

"Time to wake up now, come on."

Sam stopped struggling as much. His features twisted and changed non stop; pain, fear or sadness always present at any time.

"That's right. It's just a nightmare, Sam."

The level of Sam's voice lowered to a whimper.

"Mmmno...Dean...no..." Sam's chest twitched and a tear rolled down his face.

Sadness and, beneath that, guilt twisted in Dean's stomach and he squeezed Sam's arm again.

"I'm here, Sam."

The words appeared to bring no comfort to Sam, for slow tears continued to track from his eyes and he let out another whimper. Dean tried gently shaking him again. He continued to speak reassurances, but still Sam did not stir or show any signs of fending off his dreams. Dean licked his dry lips and looked around, searching for any solution to at least comfort Sam from the going-ons in his mind. His eyes caught on Sam's hand where it rested on the blankets. Dean cleared his throat uncomfortably. He still wondered if perhaps another shake would be enough to wake Sam and save him the awkwardness that he was about to bring upon himself. But another pathetic sound issuing from Sam's throat pushed him to forget about his personal discomfort. "I guess if he asks about it, I could always say it was his fever playing tricks on him." Satisfied that that would be a good enough lie if it came to having to answer the question, Dean reached over and laced his fingers through Sam's. At first nothing happened and Dean started to feel like a complete idiot, but after a moment Sam's features seemed to relax a bit and his fingers tightened around Dean's.

Dean smiled gently and breathed out a relieved sigh that his plan of action had delivered the intended comfort. Sheets rustled softly as Sam fidgeted about.

"Deanmm?"

"Right here, Sam."

With what looked like a fair amount of difficulty, Sam opened his eyes to slits and searched around until they came to rest on Dean. Dean smiled a little awkwardly, but didn't move his hand from Sam's.

"Welcome back."

Sam's fever-glossed eyes looked vacant and he blinked sleepily.

"Had a weird dream." Sam slurred.

Dean chuckled quietly.

"I noticed."

Sam smiled a little sheepishly.

"Uh oh."

Dean couldn't help but smile at Sam's loopy expression and he shifted his gaze down. Sam's fingers flexed a little around his hand and stilled.

"Dean?"

"Hmm?"

A smile played on Sam's lips and a mischievous look glinted in his glossy eyes. "Are you...holding m'hand?"

"Nope." Dean replied shortly, making damn sure to keep his gaze down and not look up at the smug, though goofy, expression he knew awaited him.

Sam wheezed out a chuckle, followed by a few short coughs. His chest moved awkwardly to balance out his breathing, but the short, wheezy inhales that acted as his oxygen intake returned after a few moments and Sam closed his eyes again.

"Oh...ok good...Mus be the fever, hmm?"

Dean smiled. "Dude really is psychic." Or was Dean just that transparent?

"Must be."

Sleep pulled at Sam, causing a long pause before he spoke again.

"No...chi fli... mom'ts..."

"That's right, Sam." Dean answered quietly.

Sam's fingers curled more around his hand and held in the tightest hold he could manage.

"Thanks." Sam mumbled, his eyes still closed.

"Sure...for what?"

Sam didn't say anything, but then shrugged weakly after a moment. A sudden tightness found its way to Dean's throat. Sam didn't have to explain what his "thank you" was for. Dean knew what Sam wanted to say, and he knew the "thank you" wasn't just for one thing in particular. It was for always being there for him, always taking care of him, protecting him, for holding his hand at that moment even though he knew it wasn't a very Dean-thing to do. Just for being his big brother. For being Dean. A part of Dean was a little relieved that Sam hadn't voiced any of it. Holding hands AND sharing feelings at the same time would very much toe the line of becoming Deana and Samantha. The other part of him needed to hear it though; the part that needed his hand to be held as much as Sam did.

Dean, being himself, never let on so much that something was bothering him even a little, so it was only natural that he didn't give any indication when he felt like the world, along with all the other planets in the galaxy, had been placed on his shoulders. His rant earlier that night was the first indication in awhile that he was bothered. The truth was, Dean was scared. And it was getting harder and harder for him to hide it from Sam. He had already let down his fa├žade for long enough to tell Sam that he didn't want to go to hell, but since then Dean had only built up his walls even more. It often seemed strange to him that he put up such a front for Sam's sake, even though Sam was always the one to wear his heart on his sleeve. It made Sam feel better to know all the facts and to know how Dean was feeling, tet Dean still dealt with his own problems the patented Dean Winchester way: grin and bear it. And for God's sake, don't talk about it to Sammy. Even that motto seemed to be failing Dean though.

In fact, most things seemed to be failing Dean lately; or at least that's how he felt. The days were flying by and it was getting to the point where the strike of every hour caused Dean to tense. Where every morning he found it harder and harder to get out of bed and how every night he put off sleep as to not waste any of his time left with Sam. Sam was the only thing keeping Dean centered; the stitches holding together his rapidly fraying seams. Sam had recently developed an exterior increasingly similar to Dean's: a strong, protective armor covering up an eroding core. The only difference was that Sam's armor was a little more solid. Hope and sheer determination strengthened his resolve to find a solution to break the deal. Endless nights found him sitting at his computer, tearing through books and phoning any contacts that might help save Dean...but what of himself?

A omnipresent fear lurked at the back of Dean's mind. John had not told him what he had about Sam for nothing. And more and more often signs of said revelation seemed to be popping up. Dean could not ignore the look of pure hate on Sam's normally kind face when he repeatedly shot Jake in the graveyard in Wyoming or on the other occasion when he'd shot both demon possessed victims in Ohio. Innocent people. And Sam had killed them without so much as blinking. Dean couldn't even imagine how that loathe in his little brother's eyes could surface in more catastrophic proportions -he didn't want to imagine- but too much evidence pointed to the fact that it was bound to happen one day. And still Dean was at a complete loss on what to do. He couldn't even fathom how something could turn a person like Sam evil, much less how to change that same evil back into Sam. The thought frightened Dean many times more than his own impending death.

Although, Dean supposed with the new found information about what would happen to himself once he got to where he was going, that he and Sam weren't really all that different. "We could be evil together. Wouldn't that be something? The demonic duo, Winchesters gone bad-" Dean flinched the second he had the thought and he mentally berated himself for entertaining such levity on that particular subject. Turning everything into a joke; it was a defense mechanism Dean had perfected though never been able to break himself of.

Once again, Sam saved him from the volley of thoughts that flitted around his mind when his attention wandered. Dean felt the grip around his hand tighten, startling him slightly for he had forgotten that he was still holding Sam's feverish hand. Dean raised his gaze to Sam's face, but found him to still be asleep. Dean returned the gentle squeeze. "Still here, Sammy." He didn't move for a long time; it could easily have been hours. Dean remained where he sat, Sam's hand in his, watching carefully as his little brother slept. A few hours brought with it the first signs of Sam's fever breaking. And a little after seven, sweat beaded and rolled over his fevered skin.

After awhile, Dean brushed back Sam's damp bangs and felt his skin. It was perfectly cool. Dean took in a deep breath for the first time that night and let it blow out gruffly. He leaned back and surveyed Sam's completely relaxed features. He was finally sleeping peacefully. Dean nodded curtly, confirming to himself that Sam was going to be fine. He gave Sam's hand one more squeeze and released it. "His fevers broken. He's gonna be fine."

-The EMOEnd-

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Notes:

Poor Sammy. He must suffer what I suffer. But to be fair, I shortened his illness a good 14 days less than mine actually was. 104.6 was the true temperature that I had, and it truly did feel like my head was on fire. I couldn't breathe well, couldn't walk more than a few feet without getting winded, which in turn left me to breathe less. It was very disconcerting and by far the worst cold I've ever had. So again, this could have qualified for Reminiscence, but it just didn't seem right.

I hope the whole Dean holding Sam's hand thing didn't come off as lame. I could sort of see it playing out like that though if it ever happened so...yeah, I'm gonna stick with hoping it wasn't lame hehe.

The end of Dean's deal is upon us: ( Let us pray: Dear God Kripke, please help Dean. He's a good boy and doesn't deserve to go to Hell. Please spare him or I will gather my fellow crazed SN fans and we shall find you and make you regret it...-angelic smile- Amen.

Cookies for everyone who noticed the three references to projects Jared and Jensen acted in. Also, to a certain CW show that is evil personified and deserves to go down in flames along with its rabid supporter, Dawn O -takes in long breath- Ok, better:D

Reviews are like writing in gay jokes...and I'm Jeremy Carver.

oOo-Lil-oOo