The sniffles woke him up. Dean slowly opened his eyes, blinking away the blurriness of sleep before listening again.
There. Another sniffle, followed by the rustling of sheets. Dean sighed, blinked away all of the sleep, and pushed the covers away to get up.
He stumbled over to his brother's bed, the one closest to the doors. "Sammy?" he called softly, reaching out to shake his brother's shoulder as gently as he could. "Sammy, wake up."
"M'wake," Sammy whispered, which was exactly what Dean had been afraid he'd hear. "In the way, Dean."
Dean gave his brother a look that was totally lost because of the darkness they were covered in. When he finally realized this, he snorted and shoved Sammy over. Sammy yelped but he stopped sniffling, which was all Dean cared about. "Move," Dean ordered a little late, then scooted in next to Sammy.
Sammy glared at him. "You're in the way, Dean. Go back to your bed."
"No," Dean said and gave him the patented big brother smirk. "I like this bed better. It's comfier."
"Whaaaaat?" Dean dragged out in much the same way Sammy had.
Sammy huffed in annoyance. "Move!"
"Make me," Dean taunted, then braced himself as his brother pushed. At five years old, the kid had no strength whatsoever.
Sammy finally stopped, pouting. "You're mean," he muttered. "Dean, please move?"
"I told you, no," Dean said, shaking his head as best he could on his right side. "No can do."
Sammy's eyes began to fill with tears again. "But m'waiting for Daddy," he whispered.
Dean's smirk fell, and he closed his eyes briefly. "I know," he said quietly. "That's why I came over here, Sammy."
Every single night when Dad was gone, Sammy took the bed the closest to the door, the one that Dad normally took, and laid there at night watching the door, sniffling and crying and waiting for Dad to walk through. He still didn't know about hunting, and Dean wasn't ever gonna let him know, either. No way.
Sammy sniffled again, and Dean sighed, reaching out to brush away a few stray tears. "Please move?" Sammy pleaded. "You're in the way of the door, and I wanna know when Daddy comes home."
"How about if I stay here, and we'll both sleep, and if I hear Dad coming home, I'll wake you up, 'kay?"
Sammy thought about it for a moment, before nodding. "'Kay," he agreed, and closed his eyes. "'Night, Dean."
From here on out, whenever Dad was gone, Dean would try to get Dad's bed first. "'Night, Sammy."
The cabin was creepy at night, and Sam stared at the shadows on the wall, trying to keep his breathing even. Almost eight years old, and they'd decided to go camping for the weekend. It was pretty cool, staying somewhere else that wasn't a motel room or an apartment. He just wished that Dad hadn't had to leave for whatever stupid job he had now. It made him work only at night now.
And that meant that it was only him and Dean in the creepy cabin at night.
A growl came from his left, and Sam gasped as he turned towards the door. He could hear padded feet now, and a big shadow moved in front of the door. He watched the shadow move through the crack at the bottom of the door, and heard another growl.
Sam slowly, slowly, slowly sat up. It sounded like an angry wolf. Dean was asleep behind him, probably hadn't even heard it because he wasn't as close to the door as Sam was. He had to get to Dean, but he couldn't let the wolf outside know that someone inside was awake. It'd try to beat the door down, looking for food.
So far, it was just staying outside the door and growling softly. Sam swallowed hard and carefully pushed the covers away. He pulled his legs free and stepped onto the ground between the beds. The wood creaked loudly, and Sam flinched.
The growling cut off for a minute, and then it was back, a little louder than before. Sam pulled his leg up fast as the shadow moved, and he stayed frozen on his bed, trembling.
He wasn't going to be able to get over to Dean and shake him awake. He'd just have to call him. The wolf outside knew he was there, anyways. "Dean," he whispered. Even if the wolf knew he was awake, he tried to keep himself as quiet as possible. "Dean, wake up."
Dean mumbled something but turned towards him. "Dean, please wake up," Sam begged, trying to keep the rising, panicked sob from emerging.
Whether it was the 'please' or Sam's tone that did it, he didn't know, but Dean was suddenly and instantly awake. "What's wrong?" he said, and Sam flinched at how loud his voice was.
Then suddenly, the growling turned into a howl that made Sam clutch at his ears. "Outside the door-" he started, but the door came crashing in a minute later.
"Sam, duck!" Dean shouted, and Sam ducked, even as the growling returned, louder and so much closer. Dean had Dad's shotgun in his hand, pumped it fast, and then aimed down the twin barrels at the wolf behind Sam.
The blast was even worse than the howl, and Sam whimpered at the sound. "Sammy, get over here!" Dean yelled, and Sam scrambled to obey, hurrying over to his brother's bed as fast as he could. Dean grabbed his shirt and hauled him up onto the bed and well behind Dean. He was digging through the drawer between the beds now, and Sam got his first good look at the wolf.
It was huge, bigger than the ones at the zoo. Its eyes looked like a cat's, gold and slanted in the moonlight. It was hairy, with saliva dripping from its long, sharp teeth. It almost looked human in a way, too, but that wasn't possible.
Dean turned back just as the wolf jumped. One more big blast, and the wolf fell back, whining once before everything fell quiet.
"Are you okay?" Dean asked anxiously as he turned to Sam. "Sammy, are you okay?"
"Just scared," Sam whispered. "I-I heard it growling through the door, and-"
Dean cursed, foul enough that it made Sam's eyes widen. If Dad heard him say any of that... He watched as Dean slid off the bed, moving over the creature with the small, silver gun in his hand. "How come you didn't use the shotgun again?" he asked.
"It, uh, was out of shells," Dean said, staring down at the corpse.
Sam bit his lip. "Are you mad at me?" he asked quietly.
Dean turned at that, frowning. "Do I sound mad at you?" he asked.
Sam shrugged. "You swore. A lot."
Dean pursed his lips. "Yeah, because I should've taken Dad's bed tonight. Because I would've heard it and gotten up in time. It almost had you, Sammy. It just...scared me, all right? You could've gotten really hurt."
Sam gave a small smile. "But you didn't let it," he said. "You got it."
"Damn right I did," Dean said, and Sam giggled.
"Dad's gonna kick your butt if he hears you swearing like that."
"Whatever, geek. Go back to bed. In fact, sleep in my bed for tonight, okay? I'll call Dad and tell him what happened."
"'Kay," Sam said, sliding down Dean's bed until his head hit the pillow. The shadows still danced on the walls, illuminated by the full moon, but Sam wasn't afraid of them anymore. Not with Dean nearby.
Sam coughed once, then swallowed hard to try and stop the tickle in the back of his throat from emerging again. It didn't really help, because it wasn't a tickle, it was a frickin' scratch, with deep groove marks in the back of his throat, and the very thought had him coughing again.
When he could breathe again, he gasped big gulps of air down, then blinked through his watery eyes. The door opened, and Dean stepped in with something in his hands. Sam took a breath to ask him what he'd bought, but the inhale had him choking and coughing, wheezing as he tried to get air in.
A steady hand settled on his back, tipping him off his back and onto his side to breathe easier. "Slow breaths," Dean said gently, and Sam finally took a breath that didn't hurt and held it in. He let it out slowly, and the scratch in the back of his throat subsided for a few moments.
Carefully Dean wiped away the moisture leaking from Sam's eyes, before Sam heard the rustle of a paper bag. "I got cough drops, cough syrup, that Vapor stuff, some heat packs-"
Dean would've made a good boy scout: always prepared for anything. Sam was afraid to ask how much all of this had cost; Dad would just get another credit card, sure, but Sam hated to do it. Thirteen now, and things like that kinda bugged him.
"-take that one first."
Sam blinked and looked up at his brother, feeling dazed. "Huh?"
Dean snorted and tussled Sam's hair. "That'll do, Sammy, that'll do." He poured out a bottle and made quick work of the cap, before he began to pour the liquid. It looked thick and green, and Sam made a face at the thought of that going down his throat. If it covered the scratch, though, he'd be happy.
He reached for the medication, but Dean lifted it suddenly out of his reach. Sam found himself pouting for the first time in years. "Dean-"
"Other bed," Dean said firmly. "I mean it."
"What's wrong with this one? I can handle a shotgun, even when I'm sick."
"That's my point, dude: you're sick, and you're laying next to the door that opens and lets cold air in. Not a smart idea. Besides, you're shivering, and the other one's closer to the heater."
Sam grimaced but didn't argue. He was freezing, but he'd ignored it for the simple pleasure of laying down in a warm, comfy bed. Well, as comfy as the bed got. At this point, as long as Sam got horizontal, he didn't really care what he was sleeping on.
Sitting up just brought back the headache Sam had been trying to keep at bay, and the coughing that had only revved the headache up even more. His forehead was pulled forward and pressed against a strong surface, one that moved in a steady rhythm. Up, down. Up, down. Dean's slow, steady breathing was going to lull him to sleep.
"Bed," Dean ordered quietly, as if sensing Sam's sudden nodding off. Together they managed to get Sam over to the other bed, and the change in temperature made Sam sigh in relief. "I swear, dude, when are you gonna learn that that's my bed?" Dean said, smile obvious in his tone.
"Wanted to make sure you got home okay, had to keep watching for you," Sam murmured sleepily, wanting nothing more than to lie down. Dean was here, Dean was here with medication, and then Sam could sleep.
Dean gazed at him long and hard, then handed the small cap full of medication over. Sam swallowed it fast, grimacing at the taste, but it did coat the scratch in his throat. Enough that he could probably sleep.
He was guided down to the pillows, and he closed his weary eyes. "That's why it's my bed, Sammy," Dean said in a voice akin to a whisper. "I gotta watch out for you. That's my job."
"S'Dad's bed," Sam slurred, sleep hanging on the fringes of his mind.
"And it's his job to watch out for us, but when he's not here?" Dean paused a moment, then continued even softer, "It's my job to watch out for you. Make sure you're safe. I can't do that if you're in the line of fire."
"Th'n you c'n have th'bed by th'door," Sam managed to say. "S'colder, 'nyways."
Dean snorted a laugh, before laying his hand on Sam's forehead. Despite it being cool, Sam could feel a warmth starting deep inside of him. "Fair enough," Dean said, and Sam fell asleep with a smile on his face. His brother would stay between him and the world, and he wouldn't let anything get to Sam.