Title: They Need To Make A Manual

Disclaimer: Don't own Sam or Dean, but I'd take care of both if they were sick…

Challenge Word: "Dean has a fever" Very Happy Birthday, Mad Server!

Language: Some strong words

Word Count: 1,444 words. Yeah, I know – I got enthusiastic. Sorry, but it's a birthday present after all.

Spoiler Alert: Season 4 compatible, set before "Sex & Violence"


Sam listened to the rain pounding against the motel window, then reached over and turned off his laptop with a sigh. He wasn't going to get any more research done tonight; he was too concerned for Dean.

His brother had been fighting a really nasty cold, and right now it was painfully obvious that the virus had won. Dean was cocooned in the blankets of his bed; the only sign there was anything living in the lumped-up fabric was the tops of his spiky blond hair. For the past week he'd been hacking, sneezing, shivering – and fighting Sam tooth and nail about taking a break and getting some rest. It took him almost getting his head taken off due to a coughing fit during a run-in with an extremely nasty poltergeist before he'd finally (albeit grudgingly) admitted he was even ill, much less in no condition to combat the Supernatural.

They'd been holed up in their newest "home", the Bluebird Motel, for the past few days, Sam doing his best to tend to someone who was, in his opinion, the worst patient EVER. Dean hurt was bad enough to care for; Dean sick was like dealing with a grizzly with impacted wisdom teeth. Although today had actually been a little better; Dean was so tired of fighting both the illness and Sam that he actually let his brother take care of him with a minimum of fuss.

Sam walked over and reached under the covers, trying to feel his brother's forehead, hopefully without getting his head bitten off. As his fingers brushed against Dean's skin, he sighed with relief and a smile graced his features. His brother's skin was still very warm, but at least he wasn't soaking with sweat any longer. The fever he'd been warring with for the past few days was finally starting to break a little. It was still there, but it seemed to be going down slightly.

Dean stirred a little, coughed softly. Bleary green eyes opened to gaze up at Sam, and with a half-hearted snarl he tried to burrow back down under the covers.

"Sorry about this, bro," Sam said. "I just wanted –"

"It's okay, I know you're just tryin' to help." Dean flipped the blankets down, gave his brother a weak grin. "So what's the diagnosis, Doc?"

"You've still got a fever, so you're still going to have to take your medicine. Um, actually, it's time for it now." Sam fetched the bottle over on the table, poured out the required dose, held the small cup out to Dean.

He shrank back, a disgusted look on his face. "Aw, Sam, that stuff tastes like piss!" he moaned.

"Besides the fact that I really don't want to speculate on how you know that fact, its helping you get well." Sam didn't like being such a hard-ass about this, but the noxious fluid did seem to be helping. Not only was Dean sleeping, he didn't seem to be suffering from as many nightmares. He put on his very best "I'm only looking out for you" face, still holding the cup out to his brother.

Sam also knew that other besides the taste, there was another reason Dean disliked the viscous liquid. It made him talk in his sleep, and some of the things he'd said were… well, pretty bizarre, even for Dean.

Like the one-sided discussion he'd had last night about how he and Batman really had so very much in common, including annoying sidekicks they were forever having to rescue. When Sam questioned him about it in the morning, Dean had looked at him like he was nuts.

Dean grudgingly took the small object, downed the liquid with a vicious gulp, full lips twisting into a grimace of distaste. With a muffed curse he flopped back down onto the bed, not even bothering to complain as Sam straightened out the covers around him to help him get more comfortable.

"Try and get some more rest" Sam said, grinning as Dean gave him a thumbs up before he turned over and once again burrowed into the covers.

Sam sat back down at the desk, pulled a paperback out of his duffle. He started to read, every now and then looking over at the form on the bed. Maybe I should write a book, he mused, "Dealing With Sick Big BrothersFor Dummies". He chuckled softly; I bet it'd be a best seller.

For about an hour the room was silent, the only sounds the rain outside, and the turning of pages. Sam looked up as Dean began to move around on the bed, speaking in a tone far too low to hear. He scooted the chair over a little closer to his brother's side. He reached out, gently touched his hair. "Dean? You okay?"

"I should be doing this," he muttered, his voice slurred with sleep and illness.

"Doing what?" Sam asked, confused.

"Taking care of you."

Sam shook his head, and a gentle laugh escaped his lips. "Dude, in case you hadn't noticed, I'm not the one that's sick here." He reached out to fix the covers which had been knocked askew. "Let me – "

Suddenly Dean sat up, then reached out and grabbed him by the hand, hard enough to make him wince. Green eyes that were bright with fever burned into Sam's hazel ones, and the lost, miserable look on Dean's face broke his brother's heart.

"Sammy, I-I'm so sorry" Dean's voice was full of despair, so terribly vulnerable. "I'm sorry I'm such a burden."

The pain in his wrist was quickly forgotten as Sam gaped at him. "A burden?! What the hell are you talking about, Dean?"

"You could have had that life… the normal apple pie life… but we had to pull you back… and everything that's happened to you…" a violent coughing fit caused Dean to let go of Sam's hand. "Should have just let you stay at Stanford. You don't need this life…you don't need me…." He shook his head, like that would chase away his dark thoughts, and then looked away, seemingly unable to meet his brother's gaze any longer. "Y-you shouldn't have to care of a fuck-up like me…"

Sam didn't know what was causing all this - the fever, the cold medicine or both, but right now he didn't care. He moved over so that he was sitting on Dean's bed, grasped his brother firmly by the shoulders. "Dean" he said, his voice intense and full of resolve, "look at me." When Dean raised his eyes, Sam took a deep breath, and said "Whatever our lives are like, no matter what happens, I will NEVER stop looking up to you, never stop needing you to be part of my life. You are not a burden. You are not a fuck-up. You. Are. My. Brother." It took everything Sam had not to punctuate each of those four words with a hard shake.

Instead he sighed, and pulled his brother into a hug. For a second Dean resisted, like the very idea of another human being giving him a comforting touch was painful, something he didn't deserve. Then he returned the embrace, clinging to Sam like a drowning man, his head bowed and resting on the younger man's right shoulder. The older man began to shake, and Sam felt the moisture from Dean's tears soak his shirt.

Sam just held his brother, his broken, shattered brother as he cried. "It'll be better, Dean" he whispered. "Somehow, it'll be better. We'll find our way – both of us."

After a few moments Dean nodded, then pulled away from Sam, scrubbing at his eyes. "Y-yeah" he said "yeah, we will." His voice was shaky, but there was a gleam of the "old" Dean, the wise-ass, sarcastic Dean deep in those emerald green eyes. He chuckled, which ended in a cough, then said "You DO realize that I'm probably not going to remember any of this tomorrow."

Sam stared at him, trying to gauge if that was the truth, then decided not to push it. Dean had allowed some of the pain he'd been keeping inside out; that was something. Sam just nodded.

"Yeah, I know" he replied, shaking his head, a warm smile gracing his features. "But for right now, let me just take care of you, okay?"

"I don't need –"Dean's protests were cut off by a coughing fit that left him gasping. When he was able to draw a breath, he looked sheepishly up at his brother, and mumbled "Okay, thanks. Just this one time, bitch."

Sam laughed again as he pulled the covers up over him. "You're welcome, jerk."


Author's Notes: Once again, the very best wishes to Mad Sever for your birthday! *Hugs* You're the best! Or as we say here in Massachusetts: You're WICKED AWESOME!