A/N: This might be really medically inaccurate. You might need to suspend your disbelief. Like, extra.


The following Thursday finds them in a library basement in Salt Lake City. They're trying to make sense of a case in which three ghosts appear to be working together.

Dean's spent two hours in front of the microfiche and he's rubbing his eyes now, pinching the bridge of his nose as Sam eyes him from behind his stack of books.

"You want to switch?" asks Sam.

"No," Dean says flatly.

"Coffee break?" Sam offers.

He doesn't even answer.

Sam wonders if it's just his imagination, or if Dean's looking a little pale.

Dean finally hits the end of the roll and drags himself to his feet. He starts to stretch, but then a stunned look comes over him, and he drops his hands to his neck and grunts.

"Sore?" But Sam can already see it's more than that, because Dean is lowering himself back into the chair and is bending forward, putting his head between his knees.

"Hey." Sam's on his feet, coming around the table to settle a practiced hand on Dean's shoulder, then squeezing the back of his neck, which is pronouncedly warmer than it should be. "Come on, deep breaths."

The person running the microfiche room leans in through the door and gives them a long look.

"We're fine," Sam reassures her, smiling wide. "We were just leaving."

"Oof," Dean objects as Sam pulls him to his feet, drapes Dean's arm around his shoulders. Dean's white as a sheet, his free hand hovering near his head. Sam slips his palm in past it and feels his forehead.

"Ouch," Sam murmurs.

Bacterial meningitis. Six days in the hospital.

---

"Didn't we get immunized for meningitis?"

Dean's hair is sticking straight up at the back. He frowns dopily, scratches the arm with the IV in it. "Yeah. We did."

"Huh." Sam reaches out unconsciously and stills his hand.

---

Dean gets all his shots again, right there in the hospital, one after another. His expression is guarded, brows knit as he alternates between scrutinizing the proceedings with professional disdain and queasily averting his eyes. Sam paces at the foot of the bed, Dean's guard dog, ready to intervene.

Somewhere amid the swabbing and pricking and taping, Dean sneezes.

Sam stares.

Dean meets his eyes and quickly looks away.

He sneezes again as the doctor's packing up. "Bless you," she says on her way out, and then they're alone, except for Dean's roommate in the other bed but he's pretty out of it.

Sam laces his fingers on top of his head, lets his elbows dangle. "Dean... are you getting sick? Again?"

Dean's poker face slides into sheepish misery. "There was this kid," he begins.

---

end