Author's Note: I heard from The Tribble Master that 494dwangel was feeling a bit ill, and that she would love to share some of her misery with Dean. She wanted him bed-bound in a place with no television, reading fanfiction on Sam's laptop. And wouldn't you know - I happened to have an evening off. I hope you like it!

Disclaimer: Not even the idea of this fanfic is mine.

Warning: Everything up until last week is fair game.

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Words Don't Come Easy

It had only been a matter of time before something like this happened. Dean was bed-bound in a cabin in the wilderness, snow falling heavily outside, and there was no television set to occupy his mind. Being that cut off from reality, or at least those parts that dealt with silly talk shows, Monster Truck Madness and cooking shows, he felt adrift from humanity. Sam being the exception. All in all it gave him too much time for reflection, and Dean wasn't ready to go all introspective.

The broken leg, rib and arm had to heal up before they were good for another hunt, and the fever that had followed the injuries had weakened him to the point where Sam had inflicted the soup-diet on him. The shock of that was enough to make him begin his recovery. He was pretty sure that his brother wouldn't expose him to something as terrible as that if he wasn't dying, so he had obviously make a better effort not to.

Most of the time he felt pretty sick, and Sam wouldn't let him dose up on the painkillers on his own. He had even gone to the point that whenever he went out walking he'd make sure he brought them with him. It was good that Sam liked to walk, or they would have surely killed each other by now, Dean thought. He knew he was… he'd go as far as admitting to "grumpy" because of his current situation, but Sam didn't have to be all patient the whole time! Really, it drove him nuts.

When Dean was back to solids again Sam took trips down the snowy mountainside for supplies, and it took hours. The Impala was a good car but it wasn't built for snowy mountain roads. Dean wished he had something to do to occupy his time and turn his attention away from Hell and angels and past friends and… and suddenly it dawned on him that Sam's precious laptop had to be around. Surely he wouldn't bring it into town and leave it in the car, where it might get stolen. It had to be in the cabin somewhere!

A hunt was exactly what Dean required, be it for a monster or a laptop, and he was fairly certain the last kind wouldn't kill him. But he reconsidered his confidence as he finally made it upright on his broken leg, carefully sparing the ribs and making sure he grabbed for support with the healthy hand. It took some time to work out the details but he got there. The hunt could begin.

The fridge seemed promising and Sam's beer was snared to be brought back to his lair. But there was no laptop. The bathroom was too obvious, Sam knew full well that Dean would make a point of making his way to it on his own as soon as he was left alone. There was a note on the bathroom mirror saying: Ok dude, you got here all by yourself. Congratulations! Now don't trip on the way back! Dean had to laugh. But there was, as he had suspected, no laptop in there. Sam really didn't want Dean doing any research so he could press for a trip before he was fully healed up. Next stop was the bedroom and Sam's duffel bag, and though it yielded a stash of chocolate bars there was no computer. After having checked the hallway, and still no sign of the computer, Dean had to stop and think. Where would Sam put it?

Sam was smart. And he felt at home in a library. If there had been shelves of books in the cabin it would have been the first place Dean had looked. But the walls were made of logs with a few hunting trophies and photos of famous kills. No werewolf fangs though and Dean wished they hadn't burnt the carcass – it would have made a nice surprise for the owners of the cabin when they came back to hunt Bambi. And the laptop wouldn't be in the wood shed because it could get damp… Suddenly inspiration struck and Dean hobbled off towards the bathroom again and, kneeling down painfully, he withdrew the laptop from the cabinet under the sink, where it hid behind the innocent rolls of toilet paper.

Dean chuckled to himself as he made his way back to the sofa, content with the small victory of outsmarting his brother. Sam knew Dean well enough to know that he would get to the bathroom and back, and the note on the mirror would make sure he didn't fall in there. Hence, Sam had reasoned, Dean wouldn't try to bend down and get anything from the cabinet. It was sound reasoning, but Dean had been his teacher after all.

Disdaining the flasks of soup and coffee and brushing the healthy sandwiches away from the table Dean once again made himself comfortable on the sofa with his loot. Half a beer went down as well as two chocolate bars before the laptop was up and running, and Dean headed towards his favorite pages… which included quite detailed pictures and the internet speed was depressingly slow. After half an hour he was horribly bored and decided to try out something else.

Dean hadn't been looking at the fanfiction pages for the comics called Supernatural since he'd found out about "wincest" and almost sworn off women completely. Honestly! If THAT was what they fantasized about while laying in his arms he could do without. Or that's what he told himself until he comforted himself with a lovely, black haired lady in the next town. They couldn't ALL be like that.

Dean shook the awkward memories away and regretted it instantly as his rib reminded him that it was broken and that its owner had recently taken it running around the cabin. With a frown, and ready to bail the moment an unpleasant word appeared on the screen, Dean once again ventured onto a fanfiction page. After all, it was pretty flattering to read about himself.

He scrolled the menu and started reading summaries, immediately clicking on one named: "He ain't heavy, he's my brother". The summary read: Dean is hurt on a hunt, and Sam carries him to civilization through miles of deep snow, willing his brother to live. But will Dean's self-loathing let him be saved?

Dean looked up and stared into the distance. When had this happened? Wait, it hadn't! The only one who knew what happened was Chuck. But still, the writer was definitely describing some part of their lives. He wondered just how accurate she – he checked her name, LilyLives ugh – had got it. He started reading.

"…save yourself, Sammy, run. I shouldn't have gone off without you in the first place", Dean panted heroically as Sam leaned him against a tree while he doubled over himself, puking with exhaustion. "Like hell I will" Sam muttered when he was done, once again slinging his injured brother over his broad shoulders, "You always carried me, now let me do the same." And as the two of them traveled together Dean realized that Sam was right, he was a grown man and it was time to let him step up beside him instead of keeping him behind his back."

Dean scoffed. Chick flick moment that, if ever there was one. At least she hadn't had him, uh, the character, say his thoughts out loud. Obviously she didn't know Sam. Someone had to keep an eye on that kid and that someone was him. Still, Sam had put in good work, and not just in the research department though that was the only one he'd recognize his skills in. Alright, maybe he'd been a bit over protective as of late, but he had made some bad calls. But… perhaps he wouldn't have made them if they had stood united, like before when they were a family? When they had hooked up again, after separating when War had been ganked, Sam had promised he wouldn't let him down. And he remembered telling him that he knew he wouldn't. Maybe he should start acting on those words… Dean shook his head, he had started reading to get away from introspection, not to indulge in it.

He looked further down the list, hitting on a 17 chapter story, complete, by Samsteam67 that read: "My brother – a hero". That sounded like a story about himself, or that Dean guy anyway. The summary was intriguing: Teen-chester (honestly!) Sam is 14 and Dean 18 when John brings them on a hunt that leaves him in the hospital and Sam trapped in enemy territory. While the doctors fight to save John it's up to Dean to rescue Sam. Meanwhile, Sam reminds himself of all the times Dean proved to be a hero, to keep his spirit up while he waits for rescue.

Dean frowned at the summary. This story sounded way too familiar… ah, it had been that witch coven with friggin' zombies at their beck and call. That had been a close one. But how could the writer…? He scanned the chapter titles but saw no mention of voodoo, arms hanging loose or living rocks. And he was fairly sure that was all the hunt had consisted of, dodging zombies that didn't mind getting body parts ripped off and creatures that acted like… well, like hungry, frenzied, lethal moving rocks. No, it wasn't that hunt. Good, because he sure wasn't keen on re-living it, he had been scared shitless the whole time. He thought he had lost both his father and brother and had cried a bit after getting drunk enough. Dean hit a chapter at random and started reading.

Sam pushed back against the dirt wall again as the pale, howling creature made another lunge through the hole in the rocks to get to him. It could probably scent him in here! The scratch across his abdomen had bled furiously for a while and then abated. Sam knew it was only a shallow cut but losing blood and being hurt were great ways of going into shock, and if he did that he would slide to the floor of the cave. Probably within reaching distance of the creature.

He swallowed hard and reminded himself that even though he was trapped, weaponless, hurt and lost – Dean would get him out. Hadn't Dean come and found him when he had lost his way home from school? They had quit early and Sam couldn't hang around without calling attention to himself, so he had left. And Dean had found him under a staircase, no less. To this day he didn't know how. He still remembered the smell of his shirt as he had hugged him and dragged him out, wiping his tears and his nose and not scolding him. Dad had bought them both a video game the next day.

Or that time when he had wanted to go with dad on a hunt. He had been nine at the time and only just been told what their father did when he left them for days at a time. So he had hid in the trunk and climbed out when the car stopped moving. And hid in the trees by the road, only to watch the Impala take off again and stranding him on a deserted forest road. He had been half frozen to death when they had come for him. When the fever broke Dean was the proud owner of a 32 caliber silver plated antique Colt – and Sam was due for a scolding. But Dean had bailed him out of that jam too, pointing out that he had stayed near the road, built himself a shelter and not freaked out alone in the forest and maybe it was time to let him in on the hunts?

Sam smiled at the memory and then pushed back again as the snarling creature made another lunge. "Dean! Come quick!" Sam prayed.

Dean shook himself out of the trance. It was just a story, for heaven's sake! He didn't need to know if he, er, this Dean guy, got there in time. It wasn't his Sammy trapped in a cave or their father dying in a hospital. Still, there was a ring of truth to it. Dean had in fact come to Sam's rescue quite a number of times. But it worked the other way round too. And he remembered, not too long ago, when Sam had asked him to promise that if he turned evil Dean must kill him. And save him from such a fate. Even that he would ask of his brother. Dean had been outraged, but he also knew that there was no one else Sam could ask. And he had promised. Just like he had stayed behind in the town with the Croatoan virus. Because he would always be there for him. Dean realized that he had been staring into the distance again, doing the introspective thing. Maybe reading these fanfics were more dangerous to his peace of mind than just thinking.

Still, his eyes were drawn onto the screen again and the clicked through the pages, thoughtful, until another title lashed out at him. "Pain thy name is brotherhood". The summary was short: Poem, Sam POV, Sam's thoughts as Dean is hurt. Dammit, Dean thought, another Sam story. Still, it was kind of interesting to see what these crazy chicks, he had read enough names by now to see that the men were few and far between, made of his brother. And him. With a great deal of reserve he clicked on the link to read it, he didn't much care for poetry.

Pain, thy name is brotherhood

As I watch my older brother bleed

------Crouched by the remnants of the head

After yet another selfless deed

------Crushed is the status of the dead

Looking up, his eyes are hazy

------The monster who was fed by night

Wounded, sluggish, acting lazy

------Met his doom by early light

And though the truth was plain to see

------Slain by prince of earthly might

My brother pretended unwounded be

------A man not healing as he should

------A monster not leaving while he could

------Pain, thy name is brotherhood

Dean read the poem again. What was that? Who was in pain? Was it him and Sam it described? Who wasn't healing? Who was this woman, writing such nonsense? He looked at the author's name – Bleeding101 – and wished he had read that sooner. Now he was depressed. What if Sam… Once again Dean took a deep breath and reminded himself that these people had no idea what really went on their heads. All they had to go by was… well, Chuck. And Chuck DID know what he was talking about.

Still, people could change and even if this had been… Sam's? thoughts on their relationship and their characters it must have changed over the years. After all, the books post-hell weren't published anywhere. Unless… but no, Chuck couldn't be posting his writings on here, could he? Well, if he did he'd be easy enough to spot among so many women. Dean was inclined to think that he wouldn't. He wouldn't use their lives simply for his pleasure.

Dean scrolled faster through the pages now, speed reading titles and summaries and finally latching on to something that sounded at least a little interesting. The title was simple enough: "Me and Dean". The summary wasn't less so: Dean and I hook up. And it was rated "M". Hm. But once bitten twice shy though, and he read the author's name before continuing into the story – AngelaLovesDean – and grinned. This was probably harmless. Dean started reading… and didn't stop until it was finished. He breathed a little harder and felt a warm tingle in certain parts of his body as he took the time to pour himself a cup of coffee, having run out of beer. Gosh! He'd like to meet this lady, in real life. She had been interesting, to say the least. Could he perform the feats she thought him capable of? He grinned wider, oh yes he could. Just give him some time to rest up…

Suddenly a thought struck him - Sam had been gone for several hours and should be back any minute! He had to hide the laptop in the bathroom again, or he would bring it with him next time he went out. Dean rose and was briefly confused by the pain in his leg, rib and arm as he did. He had completely forgotten both about those. And the painkillers Sam had left him lay ontouched. That had never happened when he had visited Bustie Asian Beauties and he smiled again, despite the pain, as he made his way into the bathroom and managed to hide the laptop without falling over.

As it turned out it was in the nick of time because as he came back to the sofa he heard the rumble of the Impala and the screech of the gearbox he had decided to take a look at before he was injured. He winced at the sound and laid down in his usual, bored pose, waiting for Sam to come in. Sam flung the door open a couple of seconds later, already covered in snowflakes from the short trip, and locked eyes with his brother. Dean read relief in them and gave him a huge, fond smile that immediately put Sam on alert.

"Did you read the Shakespeare play I gave you?" he asked, casually letting his eyes wonder around the place and putting his hands in his pockets.

"No Sam, there's no one hiding in here" Dean retorted, miffed that he couldn't look happy to see him back without getting the code word, Shakespeare, for "is there danger hiding in here"? Maybe he had been rather… grumpy… the last week, if Sam thought there was danger around just because he smiled. Was that so out of character? Yeah, he had to admit it was.

Sam relaxed and nodded, not commenting on the empty beer bottles or the chocolate wraps on the table, and went back to the car to get the groceries. Dean shifted on the sofa, since the jig was up and Sam knew he was in a good mood he might as well sit up straight. They might have a good talk tonight, of good memories. With good beer, he was sure Sam had bought more. And then Sam came back in and put down a big apple pie on the table.

"Thought you might like a treat" he said and shrugged, clearly not hoping to elicit a happy response but still doing it. Stubbornly dragging his brother to the light, even if Dean had been kicking and screaming lately. Better make that years. Dean just looked at the pie – his favorite – for so long that Sam grew nervous. But just as he was about to ask him if he was ok, and probably get an earful of wrath and irritation, Dean spoke.

"Dude, really." He choked and had to swallow before he continued. "You have done enough. You don't have to… even if you never do another thing for me again… I can never… we'll never be even. Never."

And Sam, being the intelligent, in-touch-with-his-feelings-guy the ladies on the fanfiction pages gave him credit for, understood exactly what he meant.

"Dean, we'll never be even. We're brothers. We'll never sit back and say that 'it's your turn to pull the weight'. Because we both do. And always will."

And they shared a brief glance, suspiciously chick-flick misty eyed, before Dean called the meeting to order by saying:

"And hand me some pie, man. I'm starving. You didn't leave enough chocolate bars in your duffel bag to feed an injured hero."

And they shared the pie as brothers.