By: Karen B.

Summary: Teenchester. Sam -- fourteen. Dean -- eighteen. Angst/fever Sam. Protective/tender Dean. Sam is more like John than he could ever dream possible. A little bit of big-hearted John to taste.

Disclaimer: I don't own them. Written for personal expression/hobby/fun. Just enjoy dreaming and writing those dreams down. This story, however, was inspired by a personal experience.

Rated: Little bit of angst and a little bit of sad stuff…with some fluffy stuff kicked in.

"What a day," Dean grumbled, opening the door and entering the small two bedroom furnished house they'd been renting for the past two months.

The house wasn't one of Dean's favorites that they'd lived in. For one thing, Sam and Dean had to share a room. The other thing -- there were few walls for privacy. The living area attached to the kitchen, made for one big room. When watching the small shitty television, Dean was constantly distracted by Dad and/or Sam; who often occupied the kitchen table, complaining over research and/or homework. Not to mention the color scheme was for crap. The living room -- shitty, shit brown. The bathroom -- shitty girly pink. The kitchen -- shitty lime green. And the bedrooms -- just plain shitty.

Dean stomped the snow from his boots, peeling off his parka and dropping the heavy coat onto the armrest of an old chair. He headed straight for the refrigerator. Opening the door, he practically crawled inside the small appliance searching for his dinner. The dinner Sam was supposed to have cooked and ready for heating for him and his father.

It'd been a long day of tracking and still John and Dean had not found the beast of burden that had been tearing up the local campers at Tawny Lake Camp Ground. John had sent Dean home to get some rest, check on Sam. They'd meet back up in the morning.

Being a fourteen-year-old boy, the law required Sam still attend school. When John and Dean were hot on a trail, they couldn't be bothered with mundane things. Someone had to cook, clean, do the shopping, the laundry -- scrub the floors. Little brother was the lucky recruit. Everything from KP duty to supply sergeant -- Sam was their man -- a janitor, waiter, busboy, full time student and all around Molly Maid.

The ragtag family could never stay in one place for very long. John and Dean, both, had drilled into Sam's head that speedy meals, and keeping their belonging's organized incase they had to bug- out fast was just as important of a job as those enlisted to sit in fox holes waiting to take out the enemy with a Bazooka. Besides, Sammy still had to finish his secondary course of training before he would be allowed on his first 'real' hunt.

"What the hell," Dean grumbled, fingers coming in contact with a glob of sticky jelly rather than tonight's meal. "Damn it, Sam," Dean called, his voice muffled inside the refrigerator. "Thought it was Ragu night?" Dean pulled out a dried up Bologna sandwich and a cold beer instead. Leaning against the counter, he twisted off the bottle cap, tossing the top into the overflowing trashcan. Place was really starting to smell like the garbage disposel it was.

Dean took a bite of his sandwich, washing down crusty, stale bread with a swig of beer. He glanced around the small room. Kitchen patrol had obviously been ignored. Dishes filled the sink to overflowing, a fry pan on the stove sat encrusted with dried eggs -- and Sam -- Sam had obviously forgotten to shut off the coffee pot. The burnt coffee at the bottom of the pot looking a lot like crumpled, blackened tarpaper. How would that ever come clean? Being a Private -- E-2 -- sucked. Dean almost felt sorry for Sam. He'd have a talk with the Winchester company commander. Was about time Sam earned his first shoulder stripe.

Speaking of? Dean bit into his sandwich, chewing another large hunk and glancing at his watch. Six thirty. Sam always towed the line in spite of how much he grumbled about the regime. He was a good, little solider. A little too good. His OCD brother normally had Fort Winchester scrubbed down and polished to shining by now. The kid should have already been sitting at the kitchen table. Shaggy head buried behind a stack of ya-high books, ramming and cramming more crap into his already overloaded storage unit of a brain.

A chill suddenly ran down Dean's spine -- then up -- prickling the hairs in places that weren't supposed to prickle. Something wasn't right. Why didn't he sense that before? Dean set his so called dinner down and stood away from the counter, payng closer attention. The scared silence shook him. Rubbing nervously at the back of his neck, he looked around, eyes landing on a round, dime-sized droplet on the scuffed lime-green tiles.

"What the…"

Dean crouched down, balancing on the tips of his boots. He swiped at the spot, rubbing the liquid between thumb and forefinger -- the tacky wetness all too recognizable.


Bright red.

Mixed with soft, pink tissue.

Not good.

Someone was hurt, and hurt badly.

That someone better not friggin' be Sam. Visions formed in Dean's head. Scary images of what could have gotten into the house. Hurt his little brother. Shadowy demon, ghost, walking dead, shape shifter, psychotic human.

"Son of a bitch," Dean rasped.

Quickly standing, he reached behind him for his gun, safety off, eyes scanning every nook -- every cranny. No sign of a struggle or break-in -- odd.

'Sam.' Dean's lips formed the word, but only air hissed out.

Fear clawed at Dean's throat, making his heart muscle pound a zillion times faster than normal. He didn't want to face reality, but reality was the thing that haunted him day or night -- who else's blood could it be. Dean shook off his fear and moved through the house. He wanted to race through every room. Scream out his brother's name. Dean forced himself to go slowly -- a hunter on the trail -- making detailed, mental notes of every bloodspot.

Silent on his feet, Dean followed the blood trail that lead him down the long, narrow hallway toward the back of the house. The droplets, now nickel-sized, guiding him to the end of the corridor -- the laundry room. The door was only slightly cracked open, pale yellow light peeking through the edge -- tarnished door handle swirled red.

Dean crept nearer, drawing as close as he could. Flanking the wall, he tried to peer in through the crack. He heard a familar sob. That was all it took. He fisted the door open, gun pointed directly at…


"Gaaah!" Sam startled, the bundle in his lap struggling weakly, letting out a gawd-awful cry.

Dean quickly drew the muzzle of his gun toward the ceiling, clicking the safety on.

"You scared the crap out of me!" Dean frowned.

"Same here." Sam, leaned back against the crusted, old-fashion tub, long legs stretched out in front of him. He was shivering. Wild, wet hair hanging down to cover his face; snow- water dripping off his soaking wet clothes like a melting ice cream cone and pooling beneath him. "Dean, don't scare her, she's hurt," Sam whimpered, one, puffy red eye peering through the curtain of bangs up at Dean. "It's okay Shh." Sam's right hand shakily petting the creature wrapped in towels that was curled next to him.

"Sam, you're supposed to cook dinner…" Dean shoved his gun into his waistband. "…Not coddle it." Dean pointed a finger at the animal. "Why is there a cow in our laundry room?"

"Deer… fawn…she's, she's a baby," Sam spoke queitly.

Dean stood corrected, eyeing the brown and white spotted animal under the protection of his brother's hand. He stepped further into the wash -room, squatting down to eye-level with his brother.

"Sam? Why is there a deer…fawn... whatever." Dean waved a hand. "Why is it in our laundry room?"

"She's…she's hurt bad." Sam lifted the edge of the towel revealing the animal's twisted and bloodied back legs. "I saw it, Dean. Walking home from school, a car hit her. They didn't even stop," Sam choked out. "She was floundering, couldn't get to her feet. Bleeding. Crying out. I couldn't just leave her there, alone. Dean…" Sam panted. "I…I…" Sam shook his head, obviously upset.

"You wrapped her in your jacket and carried her all the way back here through the snow? By yourself?"

Sam shrugged.

"Buddy, that's like two miles."

"Two point five." Sam nodded.

Dean worked out the rest of the story. Eyes darting to their first aid kit lying open on the floor, its contents scattered frantically across the cold and wet ceramic tile.

Dean drew his attention back to the tiny creature. She was bleeding badly, even though Sam had obviously tried his best to apply first aid. The deer lay limp. Barely breathing. Her large brown eyes glazed as she wiggled feebly -- skittish of this newcomer.

"Dude," Dean said softly. "She's in a bad way." He pointed out sympathetically.

Two sets of liquid brown eyes peered up at Dean. "We could take her to a vet," Sam said with hope.

"Sammy," Dean said sadly. "No vet can fix her." Dean reached behind him. "Only one thing we can do."

"No!" Sam stiffened, the fawn struggling to get away from the sudden loudness that echoed through the small room.

"Sam." Dean's hand froze on his gun handle. "She's suffering."

"Dean, please! Just. Just, no. No!" Sam rejected the idea, eyes watering, body trembling. "I have to!" Sam held the fawn tighter. "Dean," he barely whispered. "I…have to try…try to save her." A hard shudder ran through Sam.

Dean cringed, biting down on his lower lip. "Bro, you're freezing." He reached a hand out to pull Sam's bangs out of his eyes. "Damn it, Sam, you're fevered up, too."

"I'm fine."

Dean sighed, "At least go get into some dry clothes. Ill stay with her."

"I can't leave her, Dean. She needs me, trusts me."

"Christ, Doctor Dolittle." Dean stood, frustrated, staring down at the wayward pair. "Sammy," he mumbled, having trouble swallowing down the lump in his throat.

Leave it to his bleeding-heart brother -- to break his.

Without another word, Dean retrieved a blanket from the linen closet. He stooped over Sam easing the kid forward and wrapping the warmth around Sam's shoulders. Dean straightened, quelling the worry that was whirling inside his gut like the propellar of a plane.

"I'll be right here," Deane said. "If you need me." He turned and left, pulling the door closed behind him, leaving it open just a crack.

The silence floating through the house hung like thick fog.

Dean lowered the book he was 'not' reading to his lap, glancing at the wall clock -- midnight. It'd been two hours and not a peep from the back of the house. He fidgeted in his seat.

Stupid kid. Carrying an injured animal all that way home, alone, no coat. Now he was fevered-up and still sitting on a cold tiled floor in wet clothing. And Dean -- he allowed it. Dean smiled through his anger. Kid was only fourteen and already the need to save lives was overpowering Sam's own well-being. Dean understood that need. Was like a bomb blast in his gut, and the only way to put out the fire in his belly was to act upon the need. Saving lives was what the Winchesters did. It was an instinct born to them, done easily, without thought. Dean guessed saving lives included the animal variety as well. Dean recalled his father once standing knee-deep in rubble. Searching for a young girl's kitten after her house had been torn apart by a poltergeist. That rescue had a happy ending. His dad had found the kitten -- safe, sound. Dean shivered, knowing this rescue would not end the same. The fawn's injuries were too extensive. Dean knew it and so did his brother, even though Sam had to try.

Dean pictured Sam shivering on the cold floor, the bloodied deer tucked close. He glanced at the clock again. The animal couldn't have lasted this long. And Sam…poor kid was feverish, not just physically sick -- but heartsick.

"That's enough," Dean grunted, setting his book on the end table and heading down the hall. Dean pushed the door open very slowly this time. "Sam?"

"She's gone." Sam spared Dean a quick glance. "She's just a baby." He shook his head, large tears dripping to fall upon the tiny brown head. "She didn't even have a chance. It's not fair." Sam blinked - more tears dripping.

"No, little brother, it's not." Dean swallowed hard on something sick, his brother's pain never sat well in his belly. "Hey, pal." Dean didn't move from his spot in the doorway. "What do you want to do?" he asked, knowing what needed to be done but allowing Sam to make the first move.

Sam peered up at Dean, red eyed and red nosed. "We should burn her," he sniffled.

Dean nodded, still not making a move.

Sam gathered the floppy animal carefully and stood, staggering a little as he got to his feet.

"Let me take her." In one stride, Dean was at Sam's side, hands reaching for the bundle. Sam's grip tightened. "Come on, man, you're done in. Sammy…let go." Dean gave a little tug. "It's okay, bro. Okay?"

"Okay." Sam's lower lip quivered as he released the fawn to Dean, leaning into his brother.

They shuffled side-by-side out of house to the backyard.

Sam trudged into their bedroom, and sat on his bed, resting his hands on his knees. Not sure what he could say to make Sam feel better, Dean moved to the dresser, emptying his pockets. A book of matches, pocketknife, and gum wrappers. Turning, he went over and sat on his bed, staring across the way at Sam, stifling the impulse to baby the kid.

"What?" Sam grumbled, rubbing his eyes.

"What, what?" Dean replied.

"What good did I do?" Sam hissed.

"Sam, you did absolutely everything you could for her. You know that."

"I couldn't save her."

"She didn't die alone on the side of the road. You saved her from that, Sammy. You helped her die."

"Maybe." Sam gave a croupy sounding cough, and trembled hard.

"Sam, you're shaking." Dean now sitting next to him, pressing his palm to Sam's forehead. "Fever's up."

"Be fine, Dean," Sam said hoarsely, thumping down to lay on his bed.

"You need to get into some dry clothes."

"Too tired."

"You can't sleep in wet clothes, dude." Dean moved to the dresser, digging around in the drawer he came back with a sweatshirt and sweat pants.

"Those are yours," Sam complained.

"You didn't do the laundry, Maid Marian," Dean countered with a soft chuckle. "Here." Dean tugged Sam's shirt over his head and tossed the wet tee onto the floor, then started on Sam's jeans.

"Got it!" Sam batted Dean's hand away.

"Touchy." Dean smirked.

"Look who's talking, Mr. Hands." Sam stiffly shucked out of his wet pants and into the oversized dry sweats.

"You look who's … Mr..." Dean stumbled, tongue not meshing with brain. "Not...you're..." Unable to find a suitable retort, Dean shut up.

Sam flopped back on his unmade bed, lifting a shaky hand and coughing into his fist huskily.

"Sam, when dad gets home I'll have him…"

"Dean." Sam bolted up. "Don't tell dad about any of this!"

"Why not?" Dean cocked his head in confusion.

"He won't understand."

"Sam, dad will understand..."

"Dad's not like me."

"He's more like you than you think," Dean said. "Guy has the same puppy-dog eyes you do, he even slurps the milk out of the bottom of his cereal bowl the same way."

"Whatever," Sam coughed. "He'll just think I was…"Sam looked away.

"What, Sam? Weak? Trying to save something... isn't weak."

"She suffered. I couldn't…just don't, pleaaaaa…." Sam choked, desperate to suppress his cough. "Just…Dean… please…don't. Don't say anything... about anything."

"Fine. Fine. I won't tell him. But you had better get over this fever before he gets home. You know dad's cold remedy."

Sam made horrible face. "Bacon-grease and turpentine. Gaaaa," he groaned.

"Ewe," Dean groaned in return.

"Thanks, Dean," Sam breathed.

"Just lay back down and go to sleep," Dean ordered.

"Okay." Tottery with weakness, Sam did as he was told.

Dean sat on the bed next to Sam pulling the covers over him, stroking the bangs off Sam's forehead.

"Touchy, much?" Sam smirked, closing fever bright eyes.

"I dare you to make Mr. Hand stop," Dean chuckled.

"I would, but I don't have the energy."

"Sleep, little brother. I'm not going anywhere."


Two weeks later:

Dean sat at the small kitchen table, sipping coffee and reading the newest edition of Hot Rod Magazine. Sam sat across from him, slurping the last of his milk out of his cereal bowl.

The front door opened, and John walked in, mumbling, "What a day."

He stomped the snow from his boots, peeled off his parka dropping the heavy coat onto the armrest of an old chair and headed straight for the kitchen. He dropped his duffle to the floor at his feet and opened the refrigerator. Practically crawling inside he rummaged a moment, pulling out a sandwich and a beer.

John took a large bit of his sandwich staring at his boys. "I figure we got a few more weeks here, before we move on," he informed. "Dean, you get those weapons cleaned like I asked you?"

"Yes, sir," Dean mumbled, not taking his eyes off his magazine.

"Hey, Sammy." John took a swig of beer "I got something for you."

"For me?" Sam set his bowl on the table.

"You bet for you." John plunked his bottle on the counter, bending down to unzip his duffle.

Dean watched curiously, from behind the safety of his Hot Rod Magazine.

"What do you think you can do with this?" John pulled out a red ball of fur, about the size of a kitten. "I found him this morning along the side of the road." John held the fox pup up to his face. "Poor little fellow's mother was run over by a car."

Sam's mouth gapped open.

"He's too young to make it on his own." John stepped over to Sam placing the pup into hands that were far too big for their owner's body. "Caleb wanted to knock it in the head, but…well…" John shrugged. "I couldn't let him. You have a way with animals, son. Maybe you could nurse him along and in a few weeks, hopefully, he'll be strong enough to be set back into the wild." John smiled. "What do you say, Sammy?"

"I say, yes." Sam half frowned, half smiled, the fox pup snuggling against his chest.

"Good boy," John said, going back to his beer and sandwich.

Dean knowingly peered over his magazine at his brother -- match, much? He flashed Sam a crooked smile.

Sam shook his head, looking at Dean in confusion.

Dean simply grunted. 'Told you so.' he silently mouthed, going back to his magazine.

The end