This was written for the sickdean commentfic meme but it ended up getting very long. I just can't write short fics! Dean is sick and Castiel is out of his element trying to care for him.
Dean & Castiel friendship - gen. Feverish!sick!Dean, worried!protective!Cas
Spoilers for Season 5 - set during the beginning of 5x04, Castiel's phonecall goes a little differently.
Castiel knew, before he even opened his eyes to his new surroundings, that something was wrong. Dean's presence was faint, almost muted to him now, but even the tiny signature he could sense was weak and faltering and, when he opened his eyes, the physical senses of his human host confirmed what his angel instincts were telling him.
He'd seen Dean in less than perfect health before, of course - he'd never forget the battering of Dean's fragile, human body by Alastair. That had been his first realisation of how truly delicate the human body was. Every time he'd glanced over at Dean in the hospital bed he'd expected to see the man's injuries knitting together and healing over. But they hadn't - the swelling had stayed for days, the bruises for weeks, and the cracked cheekbone and ribs had taken months to heal. Months of Castiel praying for his forgiveness for his own part in Dean's suffering, for his failings to see the intentions of his brother Uriel and for his inability to heal the broken man.
This, though, was different. Dean wasn't bruised or bloodied but he was...weak. Castiel had been in the room for nearly a minute and Dean still hadn't noticed his presence. Either that or he had and was just choosing to ignore him - Castiel was soon learning that the only predictable pattern of Dean's behaviour was that Dean was its unpredictability and that being shunned by the human for no understandable reason was a very real possibility.
"Dean." Castiel cleared his throat and watched as Dean sluggishly turned in the small bathroom, no sign of his well honed hunter's instincts in his slow, laboured movements.
Even his usually emphatic denial was strained and quiet and Castiel frowned as he tried to understand what Dean was disagreeing with whilst taking in the human's appearance at the same time.
"Whatever it is, no."
Castiel tilted his head to one side as he surveyed the shivering human. Dean was leaning on the sink, not with his usual cocky slouch but with a desperate, sweaty grip. His face was pale, damp with sweat which stuck the young man's wayward hair to his head. Dean had never exactly had the flowing locks of Archangel Michael but...Castiel experimentally ghosted his fingertips through his own hair - on reflection, neither did he.
"You are..." Castiel struggled for the word as he continued to study Dean's weakened form. "...suffering."
"Oh Cass, always such a drama Queen," Dean smiled a weak, shallow grin but his eyes were grey and glassy, dull and glazed instead of bright with mirth as they should be.
"You're damn right I'm suffering," Dean continued when Castiel just frowned at the reference. "So like I said on the phone...whatever it is you want, it can wait."
The ferocity of Dean's rebuttal was diminished somewhat as he sniffed and wiped a trembling hand over his brow.
"It is a task that I can accomplish alone if necessary," Castiel conceded and Dean nodded, slowly...bitterly. Castiel could feel the resentment from the other man and he wondered what he had done to cause it. Had he not given Dean what he wanted to hear? Should he perhaps have insisted Dean joined him?
"So that's it then?" Dean asked, breaking off into a serious off wet, choking coughs. "Y-you just...poof off now, right?"
Castiel was still reeling from the hoarse, wracking coughs emerging from Dean's chest. On the surface, they were nowhere near as affecting as the screams and howls he had heard from Dean when he had battled through Hell to find him but...in another way, they were even worse to hear. Screaming, after all, was simply a human response to pain or distress and pain could be dealt with...these coughs, on the other hand, were a sign of something worse, something Castiel had no experience of. Angels were privy to pain, of course, but sickness was something Castiel had never experienced.
"Clearly you are incapable of assisting me," Castiel explained when Dean just continued to glare weakly. "So, yes, I will attempt the task alone."
Dean's eyes were half-lidded and vacant but Castiel was sure he could see disappointment in the human's gaze. No...more than that, he decided as he stared at the young man...hurt, Dean was hurt by something he'd said or done. But what?
"You know, f-for an angel..." Dean was panting as he attempted his reply, it was clear how much a toll it was taking for the man to simply speak, his teeth chattering with the force of the tremors wracking his body. "Y-you sure make a shitty Good Samaritan."
It was nice, Castiel reflected, for Dean to actually make a reference he understood.
"You..you c-couldn't just zap me to the store from some...ah fuck it!" Dean cursed, his sudden outburst setting off another chain of choking coughs. "J-just get out of here, Cas!" he choked, pushing ineffectually against Castiel's chest, unable to muster even a fraction of his usual strength.
"De-." Castiel began, abruptly breaking off as Dean sagged against him, the human's legs giving way. Castiel instinctively clutched at the human's dead weight, alarmed by the heat radiating from his skin.
"Dean?" Castiel shook the human lightly, watching as Dean's eyes rolled back in his head. Even half-conscious, Dean was still trembling violently, his breaths shallow and wheezing.
"Dean Winchester!" Nothing. Not even a flicker of recognition. Dean was unconscious and Castiel was the only thing stopping him collapsing to the floor.
Castiel was suddenly struck with the realisation that this was, perhaps, very bad. Usually Sam would be here to take care of any...human matters. But he wasn't. Normally, Castiel would be celebrating this fact, Samuel was still following a dark path and Castiel didn't want him influencing Dean to do the same. But that was in the greater picture – right now, Sam's knowledge of human sickness would be more than welcome.
Dean's weight was no strain on Castiel's angelic strength but he knew that it was unwise to keep the human in this position. It wasn't far to carry the human over to his bed, where he gently lay him on his back. He waited for the inevitable remark from Dean, some sort of joke that Castiel would fail to understand, but it never came. Dean simply lay trembling and unconscious on the sheets. Castiel had come to know Dean Winchester well enough to know that the lack of humour, despite being a lot more peaceful and less irritating, was in fact, a very bad sign.
So what now? Castiel knew that humans were frail and, if he left now, Dean would be alone and defenceless, that was intolerable. He was reluctant to call Sam but maybe...
"Bobby," Castiel mused aloud as he reached into Dean's pocket for the cellphone he knew was there. Dean didn't stir, not even a fraction, and Castiel closed his eyes to calm his nerves, sending a quick prayer for guidance to his father. He was growing more concerned by the minute – he hadn't been worried initially but now his imagination was beginning to run wild, after all, he knew so little about humans, how could he be sure that this wasn't cancer or... he didn't even know what sort of things humans were vulnerable to. Zachariah would know, of course he would, but...
Castiel stared down at the hands of his human host and longed for the power to heal his human companion, but he was severed from heaven now and his touch was as useless as any human being. He had no choice but to call one of Dean's friends.
Castiel stared down thoughtfully at the little device in his hands. He had taught himself how to use them but cellphones still fascinated him. It really wasn't so different from angelic telepathy, the use of this little device – direct communication from anywhere on Earth; God's children unconsciously mimicking their angelic counterparts. Every time he saw evidence of his Father's wisdom, it made Castiel all the more determined to find him. But to do that, he needed Dean and Dean...well...Castiel glanced over once and again and then quickly began to search for Bobby Singer's number. It took a while to find – Dean had a lot of names and numbers in his cellphone...mainly girls though and Castiel was sure that these couldn't all be hunting contacts.
Pressing the phone to his ear, Castiel waited patiently for a response. He could still hear Dean shivering over the ringing of the cellphone and, eventually, the mechanical voice of the answering machine. Castiel tried again. And again. On the third try, Bobby finally picked up but Castiel knew, instantly, much as he had with Dean, that something wasn't right.
Castiel recoiled from the slurred, aggressive tones coming from the phone's speaker, looking at the machine with a mixture of curiosity and offence. Had he, perhaps, overestimated his ability to work human technology? Had he dialled a wrong number?
"Who'sss thurr an' whadaywant?"
The voice continued and Castiel realised that it was, in fact, Bobby Singer answering his call but...this was not right at all. Perhaps Bobby was suffering from something similar to Dean? Maybe this was something affecting all humans? Lucifer's doing, perhaps? Castiel shook his head, no, he was being ridiculous, he had to focus. The angel composed himself before putting the cellphone to his ear again.
"It's Castiel, I need your help."
There was a pause on the other end and Castiel relaxed a fraction before Bobby replied again.
"I ain't nev'r gonna help you!" he declared angrily. "You...ya know, you shoulda been...you shoulda come 'n h'lped me. I ain't got no...I got no legs you son of a...help me with that an' then...an' then we c'n..."
Bobby trailed off and Castiel sighed sorrowfully, it seemed unlikely that he was going to get any assistance from here either.
"You are intoxicated," he surmised and grit his teeth an annoyance as Bobby slurred his reply.
"Screw you, I'm juss havin' a drink! Nuthin' wrong with a little drink!" Castiel flinched as Bobby broke into harsh, bitter laughter. "Not like I gonna juss walk over to a bar now issit?"
Castiel didn't even acknowledge that with a reply but, as pulled the cell from his ear to hang up, he was sure he could hear the hunter sobbing.
Castiel paused as he tried to think who else might be willing to aid Dean but he couldn't conjure up any other name. Humans had strayed far from the Lord's teachings in two thousand years and Castiel knew that no stranger would be willing to trust him, let alone help him.
Dean was alone, cut off from his brother, his friends or any kind of help. They really were, Castiel mused, more alike than he had first realised. But that meant that he was going to have to help Dean on his own. How did he do that?
Castiel paused, closing his eyes lightly as he delved into Jimmy Novak's memories. It wasn't easy - his hosts' recollection were a jumble, growing fainter every day, but Castiel could glean some brief snatches of insight as he watched Jimmy and his wife care for their daughter. The angel mimicked his human host as he tentatively reached out a hand and pressed it lightly against Dean's forehead, just as Jimmy had done with Claire, before recoiling back against the heat of Dean's skin. His hand came away damp with sweat and Castiel stared at it curiously. Dean was hot...too hot, and yet, despite that, he was shivering.
"Fever," Castiel acknowledged quietly. Dean had a fever, that was a starting point. But Castiel had never even seen a human suffering from a fever before let alone been expected to do anything about it.
Well, he knew he needed to lower Dean's temperature first off and so he efficiently set about removing Dean's clothes, almost glad that the human was not awake to try and stop him. He quickly unlaced Dean's boots and slipped them off his feet, followed quickly by the man's socks. As he unbuckled the human's belt, Castiel couldn't help but notice that Dean had pierced two extra holes in the leather, evidence of how much weight he had lost since Castiel had pulled him from Hell. Castiel hadn't noticed and now he felt guilty, he had been negligent in his observations; he was unused to dealing with humans but that was no excuse for his failings. He needed to ensure Dean was healthy and protect the man who would be Michael's vessel. And, more than that, he felt responsible for Dean because he was the only one who would take care of the young man.
He wouldn't fail again, Castiel decided as he gently eased Dean out of his jeans, sliding them slowly off his legs until the man was dressed only in his underwear. He gently folded the trousers, placing them in a pile next to Dean's boots. Only the tee shirt was left but Castiel knew that this would be the trickiest item of clothing to remove. He could just cut it off but he wasn't sure Dean would appreciate that. Humans tended to place great emotional value on inanimate objects and Castiel had already obtained the man's amulet. He didn't want to irritate Dean any further, not when they were finally starting to work as a team.
So Castiel gently gripped Dean's forearm, still amazed by the heat radiating from the man's skin, and moved to fold Dean's arm into a better position for removing his shirt. But, as soon as Dean's shoulder began to move, the man groaned, a low guttural sound, purely instinctive and Castiel quickly dropped the hunter's arm watching as it flopped lifelessly, draping over his chest.
"Dean..." Castiel spoke quietly as the young man moaned again, his eyes squeezing tightly together before cracking open a slit. Castiel peered closely into the hazel eyes, noting the bloodshot sclera, the tight lines at Dean's temples. He couldn't be sure if Dean was aware of his surroundings, or just conscious.
Castiel actually smiled in relief as he heard Dean's weak, strained voice and he pulled away from the man.
"You have a fever," Castiel stated. "We must lower your temperature. You need to tell me how best to treat you."
"'m fine," Dean slurred and Castiel forced himself to remain patient.
"You collapsed, Dean. You are unwell. I am...uncertain of the medical procedures-" Castiel broke off as Dean moaned again weakly, tensing against some sort of pain.
"Th-think 'm sick..." Dean croaked and Castiel stared in confusion, wasn't that apparent?
"I..." Dean trailed off and Castiel, watched, alarmed, as the man's eyes slid closed once more.
"Dean," he called gently, breathing in sharply when he received no response.
"Dean," he tried again, firmer, even lightly tapping the man's cheek before withdrawing his hand. It was clear that Dean was too disorientated to explain what he needed so was it better to let the man sleep? Or would that be detrimental to the young man? Castiel was unsure but he decided to resume his earlier task of lowering Dean's soaring temperature first. It was clear that he was going to have to cut the shirt away and he quickly retrieved a knife from the kitchen, keeping his eyes on Dean for as much of the duration as he could.
As he re-entered the small, motel bedroom, the smell of sweat assaulted his senses, yet another reminder of Dean's sickness. Castiel returned to his ministrations with vigour, efficiently cutting Dean's shirt away and then sucking in a breath as he finally laid eyes upon the cause of the human's sickness. Gauged into Dean's right shoulder was an ugly, half-healed gash, the size of a man's fist. It was half-healed over, scabbing in parts, but dribbling pus and blood which ran in thin rivulets down the man's pectoral before trickling onto the bed sheets. The skin around the wound was a vicious, bright red, a stark contrast to his otherwise pale skin, and, from the ugly core, vicious tendrils of infection were snaking out along Dean's veins. No wonder the young man was sick.
Castiel paused as he stared down at the infected wound. He wondered what, out of the numerous possibilities, had caused the wound. Dean was a skilled hunter, smart and powerful, but he was alone now, vulnerable and exhausted. Castiel felt guilty, for the second time that day – for a being so unused to guilt, to feel the emotional so strongly was somewhat overwhelming.
Focus, Castiel, the angel reprimanded himself and he lightly placed the back of his hand against Dean's forehead once more, that heat reminding him of the need for urgency.
Efficiently, Castiel made another trip to the kitchen, searching through the cupboards until he found a washcloth. Checking it was clean, Castiel ran it under the cold tap, wrung it out, and then returned to the bedroom. He was struck, suddenly, with how difficult and time-consuming it was for humans to perform even such a minor task as healing. It seemed that the longer he spent with Dean Winchester, the more respect Castiel gained for human beings and he was beginning to understand, at least a fraction, of why his Father harboured so much love for these beings.
As Castiel reached Dean's bedside once more, he was happily surprised to see the hunter's eyes flickering open. They were heavy and half-lidded but still open and Castiel lightly traced Dean's jaw with his finger, keeping his voice quiet and his touch gentle as not to spook the man.
"Cas?" Dean was frowning weakly, his glazed eyes trying and failing to focus and Castiel winced with sympathy, instinctively holding the hand Dean blindly reached out with.
"Yes, it's me," Castiel assured the man. "You are fighting an infection, you are feverish."
"Cas...what..." Dean trailed off for a moment, bursting into a series of harsh coughs. His voice, when he tried again, was hoarse and scratchy. "Wh-what are you still doing here?"
Castiel was almost hurt at Dean's surprise that he had remained to lend his assistance. But then, Castiel had seen Dean's self-loathing nature for himself, of course Dean didn't expect anyone to give up their time for him, he didn't think he deserved it.
Castiel refused to even acknowledge the notion with a reply, deciding instead to focus on the matter at hand.
"Your body temperature is elevated," he explained, folding the washcloth into a neat square as he spoke. "This will feel cold," he warned before pressing the cloth onto Dean's forehead.
Dean gasped quietly at the contact, his left hand sliding free of Castiel's grip as he reached instinctively for the source of his discomfort.
"It needs to stay," Castiel explained sternly, grasping Dean's wrist and manoeuvring his hand back to his side.
"C-Cas I'm not hot..." Dean stammered, too weak and disorientated to resist the minute pressure on his hand. "I-I'm freezing, dude."
Castiel frowned softly, it was impossible that Dean could be cold while his skin was so hot to the touch. Regardless of how Dean felt, Castiel knew he had to persevere.
"...Where are my clothes?" Dean was straining to lift his head as tried to look around him, too weakened to accomplish even that feat.
"Cas!" Dean was trying to sound intimidating but his voice was so hoarse and weak it simply made him seem all the more vulnerable to Castiel.
"Where...the hell..." Dean broke of briefly, panting with exertion. "... are m-my clothes?"
"In the corner," Castiel replied flatly. "Don't speak, you must save your strength for recovery."
Dean just stared, bleary eyed and exhausted, still obviously disconcerted with his lack of attire but too weak to protest any more.
"You need fluids," Castiel announced, the realisation coming to him suddenly. "Stay awake," he ordered the hunter as he made yet another trip to the kitchen, searching through the cupboards for something to hold the water. He smiled in a slight satisfaction as he found a mug, running it under the cold tap again and then jolting with surprise as he heard Dean's voice calling out to him.
As he hurried back to the bedroom, Castiel watched as Dean tried to look around him, his breathing panicked and irregular, the cold compress lying crumpled on the bedsheets.
"Cas wh-" another round of coughing strangled Dean's panicked cries and Castiel was taken by surprise with how quickly he rushed to Dean's bedside.
"I'm here," Castiel assured the man as the coughing fit finally receded. "I'm here, I'm here."
"I thought...I-I thought you'd 'poofed' again," Dean admitted, his words stuttering with the violent tremors wracking his body.
Castiel shook his head. "I will not leave you alone in this condition," he promised, watching as his words slowly sank into Dean's feverish mind.
"Can you sit up?" the angel asked, watching as Dean shot him a glare that, even with his miniscule amount of strength, was enough to leave Castiel feeling chastised.
"I'll help you," Castiel informed the man, sliding his arm under Dean's torso and levering the man until he was sitting upright. Dean groaned with pain, his shoulder wound probably aggravated with the movement, and Castiel waited patiently until Dean had settled. The hunter was too weak to support even a fraction of his own weight but it was no strain for Castiel to prop him up with just one arm. Even through his layers of clothing, the angel could feel the heat from Dean's skin and the shivers wracking the man's frame and he couldn't help but feel a little afraid. Were cold cloths and water really going to be enough to heal this?
Focus, he reprimanded himself, for the second time that day – all he had to do was get Dean through this fever and then the human would be able to help himself, or at least tell Castiel how to help him.
With his free hand still holding the glass, Castiel brought it to Dean's lips.
"Drink," he ordered the man, watching as Dean fumbled, too weak to even find the glass let alone hold it and drink from it.
"Here," Castiel spoke softly, tilting the glass so Dean could drink. Dean gulped down the water, clearly dehydrated and Castiel wondered how long Dean had been suffering like this. What would have happened if he had not arrived just before Dean's fever had taken its savage hold of the man?
As half the water disappeared from the glass, a lot of it down Dean's chin, Castiel drew it away, placing it on the bedside table. Dean whimpered quietly, desperately tracking the glass with his eyes.
"There will be more later," Castiel promised as he lay Dean back down, watching the man's chest rising and falling far too rapidly.
Dean nodded dully, flinching away as Castiel picked up the cool cloth and reached towards his head.
"No, no, no..." he murmured weakly and Castiel cringed at the sound of it. "Please Cas...please I-I'm too cold. Don't please..."
"It's for your own good," Castiel replied sternly, dabbing lightly at Dean's too-pale cheek before placing the cold compress back on his forehead. The beads of sweat he had only just wiped away were soon reappearing, trickling water Dean was too dehydrated to afford to lose, with his body's desperate attempts to cool his burning skin.
"Cas, c-cut it out!" Dean mumbled, his breath hitching, his glazed eyes trying and failing to focus on the angel who, in his feverish confusion, seemed to be causing him so much discomfort.
"Trust me," Castiel pleaded with the man and Dean stared exhaustedly upwards, even his breaths trembling in his lungs as his body continued shaking.
"It...it's my shoulder," Dean explained and Castiel leaned forward, nodding intently as he concentrated.
"Fist aid...kit...in the trunk," the man continued, each word obviously taking a great effort from the man. Dean's eyelids kept fluttering closed between every few syllables and Castiel knew that it was only a matter of moments before Dean fell back to sleep.
"What do you need, Dean?" he asked urgently, steering the hunter's head with a gentle pressure on his cheek so that Dean would focus on him.
But Dean wasn't looking at him his eyes rolling beneath their lids as the man's head hung limp on his neck, resting in the damp hollow of the pillow.
Castiel sighed as he moved from Dean's bedside, peering out of the dirty window searching the parking lot for Dean's beloved Impala. Once he saw it, he immediately set his destination and transported himself. It was a frivolous waste of his powers but Castiel wasn't prepared to leave Dean alone for any longer than he had to. That was the same justification he used as he flipped the lock of Dean's trunk with a telekinetic push. Unlike Dean's formidable arsenal of weapons, the first aid kit wasn't hidden and Castiel grasped it eagerly, closing the trunk before transporting himself back to Dean's bedside.
Dean didn't react to his arrival, not even twitching on the bed, just lying limp and trembling on the bed.
"Dean?" Castiel called quietly as he set the first aid kit on the bedside table. He noticed the half-full glass of water and reminded himself to get Dean to drink more when he woke next.
"Dean? Can you hear me?" Castiel spoke a little louder this time placing a hand at the side of Dean's face. Dean didn't stir at the sound of his name, or Castiel's touch and Castiel noted with dismay that the cloth was already almost dry from the contact with Dean's skin. Sighing quietly, the angel removed the compress, and then opened the first aid kit.
The array of items in there was baffling to an angel who had only ever healed wounds supernaturally before. There were bottles and packets of pills, lotions, liquids, band-aids, gauze...Castiel had no idea of the purpose of most of these things let alone how to know if they would be any help to Dean.
"Dean..." Castiel almost pleaded, reaching blindly into the first aid kit and staring in confusion at the bottle he produced. Tylenol...the word meant nothing to him.
With a weary sigh, Castiel returned to the kitchen, dampening the cloth with cold water once again and draping it over Dean's forehead. To Castiel's alarm, Dean didn't waken, even when the water trickled onto his eyelids. The angel frowned, placing two fingers against Dean's neck and flinching at the racing, rapid pulse. He couldn't wait until Dean slipped back into consciousness and could give him some advice, he needed to move swiftly if he was to help.
But then...if he was too hasty he could do more harm than good. His father had designed these beings to be so complex, so detailed; evolved them over thousands of years into His image. Castiel closed his eyes and wished for guidance. He missed the voices of his siblings in Heaven, missed their guidance and reassurance, that feeling of never being truly alone. But Dean didn't have that either, Castiel had no right to be wallowing in his misery, he had a task to do.
With fresh determination, Castiel laid out the contents of the first aid kit on the bedroom floor, still unwilling to move from Dean's side, and inspected them one by one. He quickly took the gauze and moved it to one side; he knew what that was for at least. As he scanned the labels and leaflets of the contents of Dean's first aid kit, Castiel once again found himself impressed by the ingenuity of human beings. There seemed to be an antidote for almost any ailment or discomfort, some things Castiel had never even heard of.
But, try as he might, Castiel couldn't identify an anti-fever tablet amongst the assortment. There were pain killers though which he quickly placed next to the gauze before deciding what else he needed. Dean's hitching, rapid breaths were like a ticking clock in his ear, reminding him of his need for haste, of how long he had been trying to help Dean, of how much time he had wasted because he hadn't learned enough about humans to be able to help adequately. He had just taken for granted that his powers would always be there. Now they weren't and he was failing. If anything happened to Dean, the world was doomed - Dean Winchester was God's chosen soldier and Castiel was charged with protecting him, Castiel would never be able to face God if he failed in this duty, he would surely feel his Father's wrath. And more than that, Castiel found that, on a purely selfish level, he just did not want Dean Winchester to die. They were brothers in arms in this war and, perhaps even friends, the thought of Dean's death was...unpleasant.
"So concentrate," Castiel muttered to himself, selecting an antiseptic cream, alcohol and a needle from the kit.
"Dean? Are you with me?" Castiel questioned, turning back to look at Dean still shaking in his sleep and hoping with everything he had that Dean might answer him this time, that Dean would have the coherence to give instruction on what needed to be done, that he could have some guidance.
Silence. Silence from Heaven, silence from God and now silence from Dean Winchester. Standing in room 113 of the Century Hotel in Kansas City, Castiel felt, suddenly, very alone.
He would have felt shamed by the weakness in his voice as he called Dean's name again but there was no one to hear him and mock him for it. No one to know how useless he really felt, how a pathetic, mortal illness had him rendered bewildered and helpless.
"Dean I don't you if you can hear me..." Castiel spoke quietly as he dipped the needle into the small bottle of alcohol, trying to distract himself from his useless, self-indulgent panic. "This will hurt."
Reaching over Dean's torso, the needlepoint hovering just millimetres away from the crusted, scabbed over surface of the gash, Castiel hesitated, adding a whispered conclusion to his warning.
And with that Castiel pierced the wound and Dean finally reacted, in the worst way possible. What should have been a scream emerged from Dean's throat as a pained, strangled moan which merged into a series of harsh sobs as Dean tried and failed to manoeuvre his weakened body away from the pain, his back arching as his entire body seized.
"Okay, okay, it's done, it's done..." Castiel soothed as he removed the needle, only marginally aware that he was speaking, for once the words flowing without thought.
"It's okay, it's okay, it's over, you are safe," Castiel promised, watching with horrified fascination as viscous yellow fluid streaked with blood bubbled to the newly punctured hole, flowing out onto Dean's exposed chest.
Dean was groaning, his eyes watering as his breathing came even harsher than before.
"Stop it, Cas!" he yelled and Castiel winced, Dean didn't even seem aware that the pain had stopped. Worse than that, Castiel knew that there was still worse to come. As soon as the wound stopped leaking the unhealthy essence, Castiel pressed at the edges on the wound, forcing more of the liquid up and out to the surface. Dean screamed and cursed as he did so, begging and pleading for Castiel to relent but the angel stayed strong. Even as his fingertips burned against the heat of Dean's flesh and his mind urged him to stop causing his ally such pain Castiel kept up the pressure until, finally it was only watery, red blood and water leaking from the puncture.
Dean heaved as Castiel removed his hands, just barely managing to turn his head before vomiting onto the motel floor. Castiel closed his eyes briefly - the vomiting was probably partly due to the fever but, he knew that it was also sign of an extreme reaction to pain or shock in human beings. And it was more water that Dean so desperately needed in his system instead of out of it.
"Jesus...Cas..." Dean was panting as his eyes searched to make out Castiel's form.
"I am here," Castiel assured the man, cringing when Dean mustered up what was almost a yell.
"Yeah...I noticed..." Dean groaned. "Son of a-"
"You need more water," Castiel interrupted the man. "You're dehydrated."
Dean nodded wearily, his eyes drooping again and Castiel panicked, quickly manoeuvring the man upright again.
"Stay with me, Dean," he ordered over the man's whimpers of pain. He could just barely make out Dean's whispered reply.
"How many of these pills can you take Dean? They're for the pain," Castiel asked urgently, waving one of the small, round tablets in front of Dean's eyes.
"Be honest," he added as he watched a fraction of a smirk play at Dean's chapped lips.
"...Two," Dean admitted and Castiel, sensing no deception, slipped the pills between Dean's lips, and then reached for the glass of water so Dean could drink. Dean gulped eagerly at the water until it the glass was empty and Castiel nodded his satisfaction as he lay the man back down.
"That's it...that's good." Castiel wondered how long these pills would take to work - he had only known what they were from Dean's scrawled description on the back of the foil but there were no further details.
Wearily, Castiel returned to the kitchen, refilling the glass of water and experimentally taking a sip himself. It was a strange sensation, the consumption of fluids and Castiel imagined having to endure it several times a day...odd. Everything about a human life was so...mechanical; no wonder they struggled with their faith with so many physical issues binding them through their selfish desires to the physical realm.
When he returned to the bedroom, Dean was unconscious again and Castiel's eyes were drawn to the mess of fluids on Dean's chest and bedsheets and pool of vomit on the carpet. It was a very human thing to be concerned about but Castiel just didn't feel...comfortable leaving Dean in that mess. With ease, Castiel bent over and scooped the human up into his arms. Dean was limp, unmoving apart from the tremors shaking his body, his head resting limp on his neck against Castiel's chest as the angel gently cradled his body.
For a moment, Castiel just paused, reflecting on the fragile burden in his arms, that sense of responsibility overwhelming him once again. Normally, Dean would be mortified at such treatment but, in his feverish attempt at consciousness, he could only whimper in the angel's arms. Castiel smiled sadly as Dean tried to curl up; searching for heat he so desperately wanted in the angel's body.
"It's alright, it's alright," Castiel soothed as he carried the human through into the kitchen/living area. Dean's brow creased as he let another soft moan of pain.
"It's okay, you're okay..." Castiel replied absently, lying the human down on the couch. It wasn't ideal but it would have to suffice. Dean sighed wearily as Castiel lay him down and the angel pressed a hand to Dean's forehead once again, manoeuvring the hunter's head so he could see into his half-open eyes.
Dean was trying his hardest to look at him, Castiel could tell, and his soul ached for the exhausted human, so weary and weakened that even that task was taking everything he had.
"Cas..C-Cas it's too cold in here," Dean stammered, reaching out blindly with his good arm until he caught a fistful of Jimmy Novak's trenchcoat.
Castiel hadn't even noticed the temperature change; heat and cold didn't affect him unless they were extreme so he couldn't know if this was something all human's would have noticed or it was just Dean's feverish body too confused to properly interpret his surroundings.
"Cas!" Dean tried again when Castiel simply stared down at the man, lost in his thoughts.
"You are not cold, Dean," Castiel replied, trying to convince himself as well as the young human. "I know that it feels that way to you but that is the fever...I am doing this for your own good."
He couldn't be sure how much of the speech Dean heard or understood, the human's eyes rolling back at brief intervals before Dean would, through sheer willpower, force himself to remain awake.
"Shit...Cas...I-I need...I need a b-blanket or..."
"Shhh..." Castiel soothed, trailing his hand down the human's cheek. "This will pass," he promised. "You will recover."
Dean stifled a sob and the sound reverberated through Castiel's guilt-ridden mind.
Castiel flinched from Dean's plea, moving to the bedroom for a brief respite. He knew how desperate Dean must be to show such a weakness as begging. It reminded him far too much of the pleas and screams he had heard from Dean in Hell. But this was different, if he gave in to Dean then he could potentially kill him, he had to stay strong. Castiel forced his hand to stop shaking as he gripped the glass of water.
Castiel shook his head, he was angel of the Lord - he had fought his way into the very depths of Hell and then clawed his way back out and this situation was proving to be a test of his strength. Perhaps his superiors had been right, perhaps he was becoming emotional...weak. As he moved back to the living room, Castiel resolved to reflect on himself when this was over. But then, he had already promised to remain closer to Dean...he would simply have to do so without compromising his own self. He was an angel, not a human, he couldn't afford to be anything else.
"Drink some more water," he ordered the man, pressing the glass to Dean's lips once again. Dean gulped at the cool liquid before breaking off into another coughing fit, his breathing to fast and shallow for him to hold it long enough for a long drink.
Think, Castiel, Castiel chided himself. If Dean was sick again now, Castiel would be furious with himself.
"How is the pain now?" Castiel asked gently as he once again pulled Dean to a sitting position, letting the man breathe a little easier for a moment.
"It burns..." Dean admitted between soft, wheezing breaths. "My shoulder..."
"Is it easier than before?" Castiel pressed, not wanting to proceed with Dean's treatment until he was sure it would be as pain free as possible for the man.
"...Kinda. I-I think...I don't know," the human seemed to falter then, his gaze drifting about the room before settling once again on Castiel. "Wh...why is it so cold in here?"
"It's not cold," Castiel replied wearily, exhausted with his efforts to get Dean to comprehend what was happening to him. "You're sick."
"Sick?" Dean faltered. "Cas...my shoulder..."
Castiel rolled his eyes in an oddly human gesture as Dean's wearily, tied to get him to understand what he'd already been told three times now.
"I know, Dean," the angel assured the older man, keeping him flat to the couch as he twisted to try and view the wound. "I'm fixing it."
Well, that wasn't exactly true, he hoped what he was doing was helping but...Dean was still sick and Castiel had no idea how long a human recovery would or even should take.
"Can...can you fix the heat?" Dean mumbled, trying to curl in on himself and Castiel sighed, guiding the human back to a flat position. Dean only seemed capable of focusing on the pain in his shoulder and the feverish chill in his body, it was a sign of how truly exhausted he was.
"In a moment," Castiel lied. It felt strange to deceive - Castiel was so unused to the act, especially over such a harmless matter. He had no intention to alter the heat in the room, other than, perhaps, to make it cooler if possible but it seemed to soothe Dean who nodded his acceptance and lay back into the couch, which is what Castiel had wanted.
Castiel took Dean's silence as an opportunity in which to give him more fluid, coaxing Dean to take small sips of the water and replacing the cold compress. Dean was drifting at the edge of consciousness, slipping in and out in a daze and Castiel hoped that, if Dean was asleep then the pain of his injury might not be so severe.
He knew, of course, that Dean would be able to endure whatever Castiel did. The man had survived thirty years of brutal torture in Hell and this pain would be only a temporary trial to endure. And yet he just did not want to bring Dean any more suffering. It was pathetic, human irrationality and Casitel was a foolish victim. Castiel shook his head at his own folly as he walked back to the bedroom and collected the remaining first aid supplies.
"Dean?" He called softly as he returned, placing a hand on Dean's cheek, watching as Dean's head fell limply to the side.
"Asleep..." Castiel mused quietly, this was good. He looked down at the cloths in his hand, antiseptic apparently...to treat infection. Castiel couldn't imagine such a flimsy, meagre object helping to fight this infection but he swabbed at the wound, wincing as Dean hissed in pain.
"Nearly there," he spoke, both to Dean and himself before picking up the cream he had found, also supposedly for infections. He hoped that this was the right course of action, that this was, in fact, the right thing to do.
If he had failed in this, Castiel knew he would never forgive himself but, as he applied some of the cream to the gauze, Castiel hoped Dean would know that he had done his best.
"Okay, Dean, this is all..." Castiel soothed, pressing the gauze onto the wound and taping it in place. Dean groaned at the contact his eyes flickering open once again.
"Easy, easy..." Castiel soothed as Dean flinched away. "It's okay, it's over, it's alright."
It was over – Castiel had done all he could, now there was nothing left for the angel to do but wait for the healing to begin.
"Cas?" Dean frowned, staring up through watery, dull eyes and Castiel nodded, hoping that Dean wasn't about to tell him that his shoulder hurt or that he was cold. Instead Dean just coughed weakly, breathing with a slight wheeze and then sighed out, his voice a hoarse whisper.
"Can I rest now?"
Casitel smiled softly then, nodding his approval. "Yes, rest now Dean."
"W-Will you?" Dean didn't finish his sentence, too exhausted to speak for long but Castiel, for once, understood his human friend and he just rested his palm on Dean's cheek, smiling softly as the human leaned into the touch.
"I'll be here," the angel promised, his words reverberating deep in his soul - it was a vow he did not intend to break, not today and not as long as this apocalypse raged on. He would be here for Dean,