He sat up with a gasp, staring at the room around him. His heart pounded in his chest, leaving him almost dizzy. The dream, nightmare, that had tormented him not all that long ago had faded, the memory blurry now. He didn't know what it was, what it had been, what had scared him so much. His pulse was still thundering, though. It wasn't good, whatever it was.
He shut his eyes tight and tried to breathe. Deep breaths, in and out. The darkness of the motel room was soothing, keeping him calm. Not completely calm, but calm enough. God, he hadn't been this panicked and scared since...
Well. He wasn't going to talk about the summer months. The less said about that time, the better.
Finally, his heart wasn't pounding away anymore. He glanced up, his eyes adjusting to the darkness. He glanced out of habit to his left, where his brother was sleeping. Well, generally was sleeping, but now he wasn't. The bed was empty, rumpled. Confused, he turned to glance at the other side of the room.
His brother stood next to the bed on the right, tall and imposing. His eyes glared through the darkness, hatred etched on his face.
And even as Sam tried to cry out, even as his eyes widened in surprise, Dean raised his arms and swung a machete straight at Sam's throat.
Sam shot up straight in bed, gasping. His hands shook as he clutched the bedsheets, and the room felt cooler than before. The dream (nightmare, nightmare) was still flying through his mind. God, Dean...
Who wasn't in his bed. Sam froze, stomach dropping out, and slowly turned to the right.
Where Dean was waiting, standing next to the bed. The machete was now a sword, and he swung just as hard as before, right for Sam's neck.
Sam gasped and twisted away from Dean's reach, making Dean's task even harder. "Easy, Sammy," Dean said quietly. He finally got Sam leaning back towards him and took advantage, pressing the cool cloth to his brother's head. Thankfully, Sam didn't fight him this time, instead shivering and clutching the sheets.
Dean sat back in the chair and scrubbed his face with his hand. The clock blazed two forty-two in the morning, and idly he wondered why all things sick happened in the middle of the night. Dean could count on his hand the number of times he and Sam combined had ever been sick during the day. Flu, cold, fevers...always in the dark, cold hours of the morning.
It'd only been six hours since they'd been driving in the car, their first tension-free drive since the rugaru. Dean'd played his music at full blast, and he'd even caught Sam lip-syncing to some of Led Zeppelin.
Only four hours since they'd turned off the road and into a small town for a motel. Nothing out of the ordinary: they were between jobs. After the rugaru, neither of them was in any rush to find another hunt. They were content with driving, struggling enough to be brothers again, let alone be hunters. They'd just been tired when they'd checked in and had immediately crawled into bed. Hadn't even been time for Sam to have cut himself and give himself an infection. Or have someone sneeze in his face to give him anything. Or even eat anything that was out of place and hazardous. Dean knew. He'd had enough time to sit and think it over.
Only an hour and a half since he'd been awakened by a small sound and rustling sheets. Waking up hadn't been easy, and Dean had tried hard to fight the urge to go back to sleep. It'd been a long day, and the beds and pillows were fresh and soft. He'd been sorely tempted to go back to bed.
Then Sam had twisted again, panting and sounding in pain, and Dean had pushed all thoughts of sleeping aside.
Even now, Dean desperately wanted to sleep, even doze in the miserable chair. Not with Sam and his fever as it was, though. Dean'd tried to wake him several times to take something, to drink something, but Sam hadn't woken up once. No bumps on his head: just the fever taking claim. Wasn't helping Dean any to see the kid twisting around, caught in delirium, but the only thing Dean could do to help was try and cool him down. So that's what Dean was doing.
Sam shifted again, dislodging the cool cloth from his head. Dean reached without hesitation and caught Sam's chin, gently, his eyes falling to the bruise. It was faint, barely there. Sam'd had worse. Just not from Dean. It was a mark made by anger fueled by fear, and Sam couldn't have seen it for what it really was. He'd only seen the anger.
It was all Dean could see, now.
Sam panted again, fingers shaking and shuddering, and Dean reached out to try and still Sam in his pain. His skin radiated heat, too much heat. Dean grabbed the thermometer from the bedside table and waited until it beeped. The number stared back at him, taunting him, and for a moment, he froze.
Then he was leaping out of the chair, all thoughts of sleep aside. As he cursed, he felt the first fringes of fear snaking in his belly. It was too high. Way too high.
Sam gasped and sat up, already hurrying out of the bed. Oh god, he had to get out. Dean was gonna kill him, gonna take him out, gonna-
The sound of a bullet from behind him only made him dash for the door even faster. He could hear someone talking, whispering and hissing, Monster, freak, wrongwrongwrong. Everything was wrong. The room was shifting, sliding, keeping him from reaching the door, causing him to fall back to where his brother-
Big Brother Dean
-was waiting. Sam caught a hold of the walls, the table, the curtains in an attempt to move as the room twisted each way around him. Everything was warped, everything was wrong. He finally shoved himself forward and grabbed the door handle in his trembling, sweating hands. He had to get away.
The door was flung open and Dean stood, narrowed gaze filled with loathing and rage. The voices rose to a shout, hurling freakmonsterfreakmonster at him as Dean raised his hand, the glint of the gun shining in the twisted moonlight, and pulled the trigger.
Sam cried out and shot up straight from the pillow, then desperately tried to stumble out of bed. He had to get out. Oh god, he had to get out-
Dean had every wash cloth from the motel soaked in ice cold water and laid under Sam's neck and on his forehead. When he ran out of those, he'd grabbed one of his t-shirts and started ripping it into tinier strips. Those had gone around his ankles and wrists, cold enough that Dean was losing feeling in his own fingertips from dipping them in the ice water.
The fever kept raging, though. If he could just get the kid to wake up and take something...
Sam still wouldn't wake up. He jerked weakly on the bed again, almost hard enough to toss off the cloths, and Dean shushed even as he carefully replaced everything again. Going on past three, now, halfway to four, and Dean's body had well accepted that sleep wasn't happening tonight. Not until Sam's fever came down a good two degrees. Just two tiny degrees would make all the difference between Dean being able to sleep or Dean sitting up, trying to decide if a hospital run was in their future.
Sam whimpered, honest to god whimpered, and Dean's chest was tightening even as he sat forward. "Hey, hey, easy Sammy. M'here, I gotcha. Not going anywhere, okay?"
It was soft, barely breathed, but it still had Dean sitting straight up. "Sam? Sam, wake up. You awake? C'mon, kiddo, wake up."
Please what? "Sam?" Dean asked, growing more confused by the second. "Sammy? Please what? Gotta speak up, bro. M'listening, I promise."
Sam thrashed again suddenly, making Dean jerk away and back in surprise. He shivered and shook in earnest, heavy breaths trembling, pain etched into his face. Still locked in whatever nightmare he'd been in before. "God, Sam," Dean murmured, biting his lip. He felt helpless, lost. More than he had since he'd gotten back from his four month trip to down under.
He grabbed the forehead cloth as Sam continued to tremble and shake, then frowned at how warm it was already. He dropped the cloth in the coffee pot beside him, their makeshift bowl for cold water, and reached for the thermometer again. A few moments later the number came back, leaving Dean staring in growing alarm. It hadn't come down: it had gone up. Probably taken longer to do so, with all the cold cloths.
The thermometer was dropped and Dean was shooting out of the chair, grabbing the ice bucket as he ran out the door for the ice machine.