4.06 Yellow Fever tag - Sometimes a brother needs a helping hand.

Written for Swordstress, who made a casual comment and got me thinking…which might be considered dangerous in some circles. Just a lighthearted look wondering, exactly how drunk was Dean in Yellow Fever? And how in the world did Sam get him back into his suit before they visited the sheriff's office? And wouldn't it have been easier to just leave him back at the motel to sleep it off? But brothers don't abandon their brother. No, they do not! So it appears Dean might have needed a little help getting dressed.

A brother's duty is never done.

I swore I would never write Drunk!Dean because everyone else does it much better than me, but I couldn't resist the challenge…much like Dean here. And to help the writing along, just do me a favor and picture Jensen acting out my story. Trust me, if I actually had the Amazing Ackles ackting my scenes, I would appear damn near brilliant and I could simply ride along on his shirttails. Curse those lucky and talented Supernatural writers! I hope they appreciate what they've got.

I do hope you enjoy. I certainly had fun writing it. And, yes, there are some nice brotherly moments. - B.J.

The Dresser

"Dean, get dressed."

Time was running out. They didn't have time to waste, and yet Dean couldn't seem to coordinate his movements. He tripped and fell trying to get his boot off, landing on his ass and having a conversation with the carpet as he rolled onto his hands and knees and tried to rise…unsuccessfully. He should have known better than to try and balance on one foot while in the condition he seemed to have gotten himself into; but then, he wasn't exactly thinking too clearly because of the condition he seemed to have gotten himself into. Damn, he hated those vicious circles.

Emptying the bottle of whiskey he'd taken to carrying in his breast pocket did nothing to improve his coordination or logic skills, or ease the terrors of this ghost sickness, not really. All that talk about liquid courage is, well, just talk. Speaking of which, let's not forget the main symptom of this illness. Not only was he drunk, he was scared, unreasonably perhaps, but that is why it is called a sickness. Not his fault!

He probably would still be there on the floor, curled up and taking that long overdue nap if Sam hadn't grabbed him by the upper arm and pulled him towards the bed. Then, after getting him moving in the right direction, Sam had simply disappeared into the bathroom.

Being left on his own was unsettling. Dean took in his surroundings and slowly crawled backwards from the foot of the bed, pulling the comforter half off as he clawed his way to the middle. He felt safer there, buffered by softness on three sides. He anchored himself with his right leg bent, his stocking foot hanging off the edge while his left boot stayed firmly planted on the floor. For some inexplicable reason, he soon found himself gravitating forward, leaning dangerously into the aisle, almost like his upper body was too heavy to remain upright. And what are the odds that when his body chose to tilt, it would choose the one hard surface to lean into? Damn this fate and destiny crap.

Somehow his laces had gotten all tangled up when he pried his boot off, so he sat on the edge of the bed, teetering precariously with his right boot in hand, his eyes crossed as he picked at the long, thin cord. His fingers fumbled over themselves, twisting the laces even more before miraculously managing to get the knot out.

He wanted to bask in his success, revel in the glory that was Dean Winchester, but another problem had already presented itself, tempering his glee as he weighed his options. Raising a concerned brow, he stared at his boot, his mouth twisting as his tongue ran along the length of his lower lip. This was a dilemma. The end of the lace had slipped out of the last eyelet, hanging limp and swaying menacingly. Taking a hesitant breath, he dove into his next project, putting it back where it belonged.

With rapt attention on the job at hand, he earnestly tried to thread it back through, softly singing Dazed and Confused as he worked. Zepp always helped him work better, even if it didn't appear to be helping too much this time, but that might be because he kept losing the melody and forgetting the words. It certainly wasn't because he was dazed and confused.

He closed one eye and tried again, to get the song right and thread the lace through the hole. The plastic end missed by a good four inches but he refused to give up, even if the hole did keep moving, the fugly. Dean Winchester was nothing if not determined. He made another pass, the lace threading through thin air as his hand swooped over the toe of the boot. He released a disgruntled sigh as he drew in another breath and tried again; ceasing the singing and holding his breath so he could really concentrate.

After seven good attempts he sat there staring at his boot, the lace no closer to being back in its hole than when he had first started, the weight of the boot growing heavy in his hand, the open weave of the laces mocking him, taunting him with his failure until in frustration he gave a jaunty laugh of defiance and threw the boot against the door of the motel, falling backwards onto the bed and staring up at the ceiling before closing his eyes and relaxing into the springs, bouncing a little from the fall and smiling as he rolled on the wave of his action.

"Dean!"

Slowly he pealed one eye open to find Ginormous hovering over him, bigger and badder than ever, a towering monster, fierce and so damn loud.

"Dean…c'mon, man, get dressed."

"'m comin'," he protested, sure it had only been a second since he last told his brother to bug off. He crawled upright and managed to kick his left boot off, no longer concerned with where it might land. The room was only so big, and while he'd had trouble finding the eyelet on his other boot, he was confident he could find the actual boot when the time came.

Wanting to please his brother and not get yelled at again, he continued with his quest to get undressed. Yes, he knew Sam told him to get dressed…but he also knew he needed to shuck his jeans and layers of shirts before he could set his sights on the other. First things, first. First came his long-sleeved shirt. Thank goodness he'd already managed to shed his jacket. He couldn't remember how or when that came to pass, but the evidence was lying on the floor at his feet. He chuckled to himself and offered a wry smirk, one down, fourteen layers to go…

Continuing on his quest, he twisted his upper body around, grabbing the tails of his shirt in each hand and managing to efficiently slip it off his torso and then both arms, quite pleased with his dexterity and smiling smugly to himself at how expertly he accomplished the task. He then bit his bottom lip, deep in concentration, before he reached back and latched onto the neck of his t-shirt and started pulling it up and over his head. He had a moment of puzzlement when it got caught under his chin, frantically tugging on it and starting to choke before it dislodged and continued its path to exit.

Things seemed to be going well until he got the tee about half-way up his chest, exposing his belly to cool air and completely covering his face, and then he just kind of lost momentum and stopped. His heavy breathing made the thin material blow out and then in, plastering it against his nostrils and making it damn near impossible to breathe. The lack of oxygen coupled with the sudden darkness as his eyes got lost in the material made him startle for a second. Actually, maybe a tad bit longer than a second. But it was dark…really dark. Like pitch-black! His heart raced as his mind seized and he quickly barreled into a full-blown panic attack, acutely aware that he couldn't see, couldn't breathe, hyperventilating and desperate for oxygen, contorting his body to no avail, trapped within the unforgiving fabric and scared…so damn scared. And didn't that just seal the deal? He was going to die…again! His freaking life couldn't suck any harder!

And this…this was the final chapter. How his story was destined to end. He wasn't going to make it the last few hours still on his clock; he was going to die right here, right now! This.. was.. it!

Just as his struggling peaked, desperate hands clawing at the fabric, his head thrashing about within the confines of the cloth, a muffled groan whimpering for release, he felt the material fly past his nose, air and light engulfing him as he at last found blessed freedom. He sputtered for a breath, gasping as air washed over him and so damn grateful, but his relief was short-lived as he was immediately slammed by the bright lights of the room, assaulting his senses and making his eyes burn. His hands lashed out to cover his tormented and sensitive eyes, his body folding in on itself in a protective move.

"Dean… Dean! Calm down, I got you."

He could only manage a grunt in response as Sam grabbed his floundering arms, latching on and holding steady, staring deep into terror-stricken eyes squinting into the bright lights. Sam somehow managed to forge a connection as he waited for Dean's panic to ease. Wild eyes had greeted him when he rescued Dean, a look of total terror claiming his big brother in a surreal wave of the absurd; Dean's fingers clamping down on his arm like a vice, desperate to hold on to that brotherly concern.

Only in Dean's ghost fever-addled mind could a simple black t-shirt present such unholy terror.

Dean took several minutes, hands tightly holding on, keeping Sam close in a death grip. Only a steady stream of gentle words able to ease the transition back to feeling okay… well, mostly okay. Initially unwilling… no, unable to break the hold and the safety it brought and allow Sam to move away, so damn terrified.

With a tremulous smile, Dean finally released his grip and Sam didn't linger long. A quick nod from Dean indicating he was all right was all Sam seemed to need before patting his brother on the shoulder and again leaving him to his duty, seemingly confident big brother was capable and not wanting to mother-hen him, as he again disappeared into the bathroom.

Dean sat there pondering what might be behind all Sam's time spent in the bathroom. Either that taco didn't sit right or little brother was doing something else in there… What, exactly, Dean's pickled brain couldn't quite figure out, but he knew he'd think of whatever it might be by morning. That is, if he was still around by morning. His gut did flip-flops at the thought, tightening as his mind rewound the t-shirt fiasco, a horror movie played out in Sensurround. He sucked in another fragmented breath and told himself it was okay…he was okay… Sammy was right there in the bathroom. Nothing could get him here…nothing. Not with Sammy to protect him.

After extricating him from his cloth prison, Sam had thrown the offending t-shirt on the pile Dean had started on the floor, his jacket and long-sleeved shirt marking the spot. Dean smiled at his aim, reflecting on his technique. That's my boy. With his height and size, Sam should have been a star basketball player, a pro making the big bucks and living the good life… not risking his life chasing scary monsters. Life sure as hell wasn't fair.

Dean sat there staring at his clothes on the floor, his mind taking him on another tangent as he considered the laundry, the darks and the lights, the grime from the last monster that still might be hanging on to the bottom of his last pair of clean jeans, but then something else grabbed all focus. He absently slapped his right hand against his bare stomach, itching and massaging at the growl that greeted him. With as much liquor as he'd consumed he really wasn't looking to eat and yet, there was a slight longing in his gut, whether it wanted food or more hooch, he wasn't quite sure, but when he got the chance he'd have to ponder that quandary more deeply. He was always in the market for a good meal, just maybe not right now.

Still swaying, or maybe it was the room that was swaying, he wasn't too clear on that, he looked down to his jeans; the belt that was holding them up had a silver buckle on it. Figures. It was a large, complex buckle and there was more leather to guide through metal containments. He licked his lips, ready for his next daring feat, his mind engaged like he was picking a lock, but it was his fingers that failed him as they again fumbled, unsure and hesitant, clumsy and unresponsive. This was going to be a bitch! Why…he couldn't determine. It wasn't like he didn't know how to unbuckle a belt. Hell, no, he'd helped Sammy learn to tie his laces and buckle his buckles along with all the other doodads that came on Dress Me Elmo, or whatever the hell that blue critter was called, when the boy was a mere lad. He'd undone a million buckles in his time… This wouldn't stop him.

He could do this.

Dean Winchester was always up for a challenge…but then again, this was hardly a challenge. After all, he was a master at getting undressed…just ask any of the girls he escorted home. He was no slouch at holding his liquor either, no sirree! Been drinking since he was fifteen, no amount of alcohol dulled his senses or thwarted his abilities. Nope! He was a man who knew how to drink. Always had. Whatever was going on here had to be something else, something else entirely… another side-effect of this ghost sickness. He'd have to mention that to Sam and have him list it in the journal, if he ever came out of the bathroom.

After his little exercise into hunter logic, he turned his attention back to the job at hand. It was a good thing he was undoing the belt instead of doing it, him and eyelets were no longer friends, if they ever had been. He never cared for things that tried to show him up…not that he held a grudge, but it better not ask for rescuing anytime soon, that's for damn sure.

At least the leather was wider and more manageable than those dang tiny, little shoelaces. After a few anxious moments of hit and miss, some intriguing forays into trial and error, he succeeded in releasing the leather from the buckle and the metal pointy thing that stuck up through the holes in the belt. He was pretty sure the pointy thing had a name, something geek boy Sammy was sure to know, but Dean didn't really care…it was history. He'd conquered it. He still had it!

Now came the tough part, a tad touch and go if you weren't used to strategy; but then, this was nothing for a trained hunter. He mapped out his course of action and confidently proceeded; all he need do was stand and let the jeans slip off his hips and then his legs. Balancing on one leg had proven problematic in the past, but he'd learned a trick or two in the interim. He smiled to himself, the sly smirk comforting and familiar. Nah…this wasn't going to be so very difficult, just take it one leg at a time, one foot on the ground at all times, all the while steadying himself against the support of the bed. Piece of cake. He bit into his bottom lip, his jaw set firm, his eyes narrowed in deep concentration as he attempted to stand. So far, so good. Once in a totally upright position he shook his hips, a quick jerk to the right followed by a twist to the left, expectantly waiting for the jeans to fall to his ankles.

The thing is…nothing happened… nothing except the room started spinning, round and round and round and…

He plopped back down on the bed, the wheels in his head grinding, his eyes blinking back his muddled confusion as he considered his next move. Must be a step he'd forgotten, one small piece of the puzzle that had managed to elude him. Damn these tricky devils. He wanted to lay back and really think about this. He thought better on his back…well, he did some things better on his back or at least in a horizontal position. A smirk graced his lips, his dimples coming out in support of the happy thoughts as he considered what a bed was made for… and no, it wasn't for sleeping, even though right now that seemed to be what this particular bed was calling out to him. With the other option unattainable under present circumstances, considering no female companionship was anywhere in sight, sleep was tempting. He remembered how soft the mattress was, how the ringing in his head eased when he ceased all this thinking, how when he closed his eyes the room stopped spinning… how peaceful and safe it was…

How loud Sam was when he bellowed at him to get dressed. His eyes shot back open, his dad's voice in his head alongside Sam's, barking another order. Move it, soldier!

Yes, sir!

He sat up quickly…too quickly, grabbing his head as the world tilted almost sideways. He took a moment to focus, to settle his stomach that was now joining the party by contributing a squishy throbbing that was turning into a steady wave threatening to erupt. He was grateful he hadn't eaten…less danger of a solid comeback.

Sam was still in the bathroom, only his voice intruding into Dean's quiet time, somehow sensing his brother's lapse and directing him back on task… just like a drill sergeant. Dean didn't want to be a soldier… soldiers carried guns and guns could go off… He wanted a nap. He wanted to curl up and forget this job, forget that ghosts really existed and ignore the undeniable, that he was on the downside of living and was gonna die. He wanted to live… live in that happy place where good things happen. Trouble was, he had no experience with that, and now certainly wasn't the time to turn his life around and start.

He gnawed on his lower lip, his eyes blinking back the threatening tears as his heart started in with its battering-ram impersonation, pounding against his ribcage as it tried to force its way out of his chest. In frustration and worry, his right hand played with the bed sheets, twisting the material until it was tightly wound around his hand, his nails digging into his covered palm as he clutched the material in a fist. He drew in a deep breath, holding it for a few seconds before slowly releasing it in a controlled exercise, a coping mechanism he'd learned long ago. It didn't work. He gave it one more shot, a repeat performance as he struggled to move forward. It had been a lifetime since he'd felt this scared…since he'd looked into Sam's frantic eyes and told him he had to let him go, since he last faced the certainty of dying. His time in Hell doing nothing to ease his apprehension, instead driving home the threat, and he no longer had the willpower to deny his fear. He could feel it, inside him, growing stronger with every breath.

This wasn't helping. All these thoughts about death and dying, Hell and what that would again bring only upped his anxiety, increasing the terror that was already threatening to undo him.

He wasn't going to fall apart…he wasn't. At least, not yet. A sound from the bathroom reminded him that Sam was still there, waiting for him to finish dressing. He could do this, he could. His hands grabbed hold of his knees in a tight grip as he drew in another deep breath and released it, shaking out his shoulders as a grunt escaped his lips. That's more like it!

Once he was feeling as good as he was ever going to get considering his precarious situation, he set back on course, determined to be brave. It helped to focus on a task, on a job that needed doing. He pawed at the front of his jeans, wondering why they felt so tight with the belt off; well, not exactly tight, just not loose enough to slip off his hips. That's when he felt the sharp abrasion of the metal zipper against the tips of his fingers. Dang, he'd forgotten all about the zipper…and that damn button above it. With the same focus he had previously exhibited, he went to work trying to release himself from his iron cage, but his hands felt like he had work gloves on and everybody knows you take off your gloves before messing with a zipper or a button.

He bent over, twisting himself almost in half, getting dizzy in the process, just to try and get a look at the target. He scratched the back of his head in contemplation. He'd never had this much trouble before, but then again, he often had help in the form of eager hands anxious to release his man parts. A smirk again turned up his lips as he fondly recalled his last amorous encounter, his mind traveling to other things, finer things, and easily getting distracted yet again.

"Dean, you almost ready?"

The voice came from the bathroom…still. They really needed to get that boy regular.

He fingered the metal of the zipper, wondering if he could convince it to slide down or if it would be easier to just rip the jeans open, Hulk-like, leaving tattered slips of fabric from his manly expansion. He found that thought amusing, like so many other random thoughts that ricocheted around his head. He turned over his right hand in front of his face, mere inches away so he could get a good look, observing the pale skin and those annoying freckles, wishing he was green and could just hulk-out. Wishing he could have super-human strength or speed or maybe be invisible. That would be cool!

He rubbed his fingers together, flexing them and getting them ready for the task at hand; both hands diving in and fumbling for the zipper, fighting their way to the prize. He would be the first to admit; it was a struggle, a fight to the death, but he won. He managed to not only pop the button on the waistband, but conquer the zipper, deftly sliding it down to the base. Well, maybe not deftly, but it went. It knew better than to mess with a Winchester.

Now came the moment of truth. He slowly rose; his hands releasing the waistband of his jeans and letting gravity do its thing. He was grateful he wore his jeans loose. He always went for comfort, it came in handy in his line of work; besides, he didn't need to show off his ass or other assets, his manly charms were a given…given his face and chiseled features. His jeans were thankfully loose enough they slipped right off his hips, pooling at his ankles, just waiting for each foot to be lifted so they could be kicked to the side to join his other cast-offs on the floor.

Smiling sweetly and savoring this conquest, he silently complimented himself. He thought he'd responded quite well to this endeavor, a tiny bit like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but not bad…not bad at all. In triumph, he sat back down with a thud, naked except for his black boxers and black socks…with his jeans still pooled around his ankles. With a sly grin he lay back on the bed and lifted both feet, allowing the jeans to slip past them to land on the floor. With a flourish he then kicked them toward the stack of laundry.

He continued to lay there on his back, comfortable and deep in thought, fingering the elastic waistband of his boxers and considering his options. It didn't take long for him to decide they could stay. Yep, a man needs his boxers and it don't matter if you are wearing jeans or a suit, one pair is as good as another. Same with socks…besides, laundry day was coming and like the jeans, these were his last pair of semi-clean socks. Besides, if he did happen to die, he wouldn't have much need for clean clothes.

Feeling rather proud of his accomplishments, delighting in this small victory, he found his satisfaction in a job well-done didn't last long. He soon was made to feel lacking…incompetent in comparison to his not-so-little, little brother, who emerged from the bathroom fully dressed and eager to head out, his spiffy blue suit and dress shoes spit-polished and ready for prom. The only thing missing was a prom date in a frilly pink dress and a too large corsage that didn't quite fit. Dean smiled at the memory of an awkward, nervous Sammy trying to figure out where-in-the-hell to pin that monster of a corsage when his date appeared in a strapless number that barely covered her ample bosom, with no material to spare. He narrowed his vision and studied Sam, trying to picture an appropriate lass for his laddie, someone pure of heart and special. Someone worthy of his little brother.

His lips again turned up in a comical grin as his mind took him on another strange journey, picturing Sam as one of the suitors in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. He closed his eyes and let the fantasy hijack him; softly humming a show tune to accompany the image of Sammy bustin' some moves as too-long legs, gangly and awkward, danced across the screen in pursuit of a good woman. And, no…contrary to what you might be thinking, he's never watched the movie, just happened across it when he was flipping channels back at that motel in Boise…honest! Anyway…the thing is, there was a point to this little jaunt of whimsy, a very good point. Sammy needs a good woman. Dean planted that thought deep in his head; he'd have to see about finding him a girl, a nice, sweet, respectable girl…a non-demon, someone not quite so skanky, as far removed from that hell bitch, Ruby, as he could possibly find. Yeah, Sammy needed a little honest lovin' to bring a smile to the boy's face, been too much frowning and moping around lately…it was getting old. Getting Sammy laid would be next on the agenda…that is, after saving his own ass from this ghost sickness.

"Dean…get dressed, will ya?"

"'m tryin'."

"You're not trying very hard…come on."

Dean pulled up into a sitting position and sat there pouting, actually pouting.His bottom lip stuck out like a petulant toddler, while his eyes were liquid and near tears from the sting of Sam's harsh words. He was trying…he was! Sammy just didn't understand how damn difficult this was.

And he wasn't being emotional…he wasn't!

His suit soon found its way out of the closet and was laid by his side on the bed. His hand reached out to pat it. It was smooth, not scratchy like the old comforter this crap motel provided. He didn't like to wear suits, costumes… just another cross they had to bear for the job, but he kind of liked this suit. He kind of liked how it made his eyes sparkle, or at least that's what all the girls told him when he wore it. He secretly called it his 'lucky suit'. He might complain about having to get all gussied up, but he had to admit, he liked the attention it brought. A higher class of girl noticed him when he was dressed to the nines. Truth be told, he kinda liked the power thing too, having people respect what he said before he even said it. Being able to make the rules and enforce them. Like the suit paved the way to respectability. Not that he ever wanted to be respectable, but it was a nice change on occasion. Every kid wants to play sheriff when they grow up.

"Here, give me your arm."

Sammy was right there beside him, eyes tender and caring, only the barest glimmer of annoyance showing. Sammy always took care of him…just like he took care of Sammy. His brother…Sammy was his brother. Good brother…nice. Nice Sammy. He smiled as he presented his arm, intently watching as Sam slid the dress shirt up his arm to his shoulder and then draped it over his back, easing his other arm back and into the other sleeve before bringing the shirt around to meet in the front. Sam knelt on the floor before him, dexterous fingers quickly fastening all those buttons…a whole row of teeny, tiny buttons slipping through the holes like magic, all lined up nice and straight. Just perfect. Sammy was good… Sammy was very good.

Sam then brought his dress pants down to the floor, tapping his left leg and helping him lift it, scrunching the pants up his calf until his stocking foot poked through the bottom. He wiggled his toes, resting his foot against Sam's thigh as his brother prodded his other foot, insisting he lift it for a repeat performance. He bit his tongue as he concentrated, having both feet off the ground was scary, but he had Sammy right there beside him, ready to catch him if he fell. With determination and a burst of courage he lifted his other foot, allowing Sam to slide the second pant leg up before resting that stocking foot on Sam's other thigh.

For some reason he was fascinated by his stocking feet now, wiggling them against the lap of his brother still kneeling before him. Sam looked so big and strong. He wished he had a sword, a light saber maybe, to gently tap Sam on each broad shoulder and proclaim him a knight. His knight in shining armor…no wait, not quite. He'd have to rethink this. Sam was definitely knightly material…so courageous and bold. Out there fighting the scary monsters. But Dean didn't want to be the damsel in distress. No, he did not. He wasn't a girl…not hardly. He started to laugh at the thought. He was being silly…just plain silly.

Finding renewed vigor, that Winchester stubborn streak suddenly presenting itself, Dean pushed back from his brother, out to prove he was knightly material too. Situating his feet to the side of Sam's inclined position, he tried to rise, his hands sweeping out into thin air as he started to waffle about, finding balance only by grabbing hold of Sam's head, that mop of long hair entwined between his fingers before searching lower and finding his brother's broad shoulders, using the support to rise like the Phoenix from his drunken stupor and stand tall. Sam followed him into a standing position, sliding the dress pants all the way up past his hips before Dean even realized what was happening, steady hands gripping him around his waist and not allowing him to fall, even as he swatted away the help, muttering he was fine.

"Yeah, Dean, you're fine."

Sam didn't wait for an invite; he simply reached for his brother's zipper and yanked the thing up, finishing off by popping the top button through the buttonhole. Dean giggled at the motion, the slight brush against his stomach happening so quickly he couldn't react in time, slapping at his brother's hands like a nervous schoolgirl protecting her honor after the fact, before falling back to a sitting position on the bed again. Not content to just sit there, out to prove he was capable, he again tried to rise. Sam didn't allow the motion; one hand against his chest enough to keep him planted on the bed.

"Dean…shoes. Just sit there, all right?"

Squinting his eyes at the sleek black dress shoes lying on the floor, Dean nodded his compliance. "'kay, Sammy."

Sam had to wrestle the footwear on. Dean was constantly flexing his foot, wiggling his toes, jerking about and loudly complaining that Sam was purposely tickling him. It wasn't like Dean didn't like his dress shoes, the leather was soft, and they fit like a glove, but this was too much fun, a game, testing his brother's reflexes and winning.

Being a Winchester made Sam a formidable opponent though and he finally accomplished his goal, moving past the hurdles Dean kept presenting and slipping the dress shoe on. With a grunt of satisfaction, Sam pulled up the side zipper, encasing the bouncing foot and drawing a disappointed sigh from Dean as the game was called.

Dean lifted his left foot and tried to place his shoe against Sam's chest so he could get a better look at it. Sam grabbed it in mid-air and held it in his huge hands; no doubt, not wanting to be forced to explain a shoeprint on the front of his suit.

Dean cheerfully announced as he twisted the leather-clad foot, "Prince Charming…the shoe fits!"

"Guess that makes you Cinderfella," Sam responded with a slight chuckle and a smirk of his own.

Dean blinked as he pondered the deeper meaning, the fine lines around his eyes crinkling as they narrowed in contemplation. He wanted to respond, offer a witty comeback, but the moment passed as he sat there, his tongue unable to keep up with his intent, his mind lost on that first bend in the road. Instead he grinned at his brother, leaning slightly and adjusting his focus to maintain an upright position.

---

Once both feet were covered, Sam again stood before his brother. Dean was acting like he was four years old, in a much bigger body, of course; but the way he gently bounced on the bed, the cautious way in which he watched, all his mannerisms those of a small child awaiting his lollipop. If they weren't facing his impending death and on a strict timetable, Sam would have grabbed a camera to preserve the moment. As it was, he simply smiled.

Dean looked like an angelic child ready for his first communion, dressed in his very first suit, excited and yet tentative, huge eyes watching for indications of how he was supposed to act. Wanting to please… A totally foreign concept of Dean, more innocent and pliable.

Dean was nothing if not a sweet drunk.

Sam reached out and locked his grip to his brother's arm, right below the elbow. Dean gripped him right back, trust overriding that persistent twinge of fear. This disease tapping into a vulnerability that rarely allowed itself to manifest; the ghost sickness exposing the child's need as he faced the fears the disease awakened.

Sam again helped him to a standing position.

"Okay, bro…just one more thing and you are ready to go."

This time it was not so simple, the suit jacket failing to slip into place as readily as the dress shirt. It was like Dean was trying too hard, both brothers wrestling for control. Sam wanting one arm while Dean presented the other, not fully grasping that a specific arm went in a specific sleeve; that is, unless he wanted to end up like Steve Martin in one of his comedy routines, his jacket on backwards as he played the role of country bumpkin.

Worthy of any Saturday Night Live performance, it was a comical scene; two grown men, rather tall and defined, dancing about each other trying to get one lone suit jacket properly positioned. It took considerable time and effort, but the deed was finally done and Dean was dressed. Well, almost…

Oddly enough, it was Dean who reminded Sam about the tie. Childlike eyes, open wide with sweet sincerity and long-buried innocence, deciding he wouldn't be properly dressed without his tie. Sam fondly recalled his big brother helping him tie his first tie, showing him how many times to wrap it around before threading one end back through to form the knot. Dean's strong hands ghosting over his unsure ones and helping him master the moves so he could go to his seventh grade dance. He hoped it wasn't as difficult for Dean to teach him back then as he was having a time of it now. Dean kept trying to look down, straining to watch even though it was an impossibility, Sam's hands and his own chin blocking a clear view. The real problem came when pesky hands tried to help. Dean was insistent that he could do it, even though his fingers had already shown heavy-handed ineptitude concerning intricate maneuvers.

Dean had always hated wearing a tie, so it became even more bizarre when he insisted it wasn't tight enough. Most often Dean had his tie loosened and off to the side before he left the motel room, loudly bemoaning the curse of costumes and driving his brother mad with his complaints. Now Dean insisted Sam make it snug. Just another peculiarity of Dean when he'd had too much to drink, somehow needing to please, wanting to fit the image and be perfect.

Finally it was over, the job complete. Dean was properly dressed for their next investigative lead. While the tousled look was definitely in Dean Winchester's, hunter extraordinaire's, arsenal; to fulfill the role of an FBI agent, he needed to be more uniformly groomed. Sam took out his small comb and arranged his brother's hair, leaving one small strand to dip across his forehead, just like he knew Dean hated but the girls loved. His large hand had to hold on to the side of Dean's face to keep him steady, turning him from one side to the other to ensure all other stray hairs were contained. Only when he was satisfied Dean would pass for a federal agent did he allow his hand to retract, immediately missing the connection, but allowing another few seconds of eye contact before reluctantly releasing him.

"Dude, you all right?"

"'m fine, Sammy… 'm fine." Dean offered a bright smile, the fine lines around his eyes deepening as his eyes glimmered with a far off glaze, but he blinked back the confusion and then the lights were semi-lit as he stared straight into Sam's face and winked. "Rarin' to go."

Sam slapped him on the shoulder, holding on to him at the juncture of his shoulder and neck as he steered him towards the door. "Just stay close."

"Not goin' 'nywhere, Sssaaammmmy… Ssstuck like glue."

Once Sam got him outside, the fresh air seemed to help revive him, or maybe it was being so far away from the bed led all thoughts of sleep to abandon him. Whatever it was, Dean was able to walk, still swaying slightly, but remaining upright.

Dean automatically moved to the driver's door, his customary place, until Sam gently maneuvered him to the other side, opening the door and helping him in.

"Not this time, dude."

"Yeah? Whatever."

The drive to the police station was silent. Dean shifted a few times and Sam looked over at him, studying him to gauge his alertness. It wasn't until they pulled up beside a police cruiser in the parking lot right outside the main entrance to the police station that Dean tensed, a look of horror plastered on his face as he waited on edge for the officer approaching them to walk on past and get in the patroller to drive away. He expelled a lungful of air in a heavy gasp when the danger was averted, before turning to his brother with terror in his eyes.

"Dean? What is it?"

"We can't go inside a police station… I'm w-w-wanted."

Sam chewed his bottom lip, this conversation beginning to sound too familiar. His exasperation with his brother again mounting. They really didn't have time for this. Not if they were going to save Dean's life. Time…time…the disease only gave them forty-eight hours, more than half of which were already spent. The old Dean would understand, wouldn't want any pansy-footed, sugar-coated allowances made. He cleared his throat, not wanting to play the bad guy, but not really having any choice.

"Dean, you're going in."

Wide eyes gazed at him, fear seeping from every pore, sweat from either his anxiety or the booze, or both, bringing a sheen to his terrified face. Dean blinked twice and then set his jaw, his eyes narrowing in determination while his lips opened as he started to pant, releasing one final guttural grunt as his hand reached for the door handle, giving it a jerk. The heavy door opened and swung wide with a loud creak. Dean's voice was strong and confident, brusque and centered, as he exited the car.

"Let's do this!"

The End

bjxmas

July 2009

All standard disclaimers apply.

Thanks for reading, I appreciate it. Take care, B.J.