Title: Winchesters Don't Get Sick
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: This little story is for Twinny as part of the SFTCOL(AR)S Secret Santa exchange. A little brotherly love is just the thing to make me feel warm and fuzzy for the holidays, so I hope it does the trick for you as well, Twinny :) Thanks has to go to Rachelly, who probably doesn't remember, but helped inspire this fic, and to sendintheclowns, for the nice beta.
Summary: Brothers, in sickness and in health, and Dean wouldn't trade that for anything in this world.
Winchesters didn't get sick.
At least that's what Dean liked to believe. And really, for the most part, it was true. Despite all their traveling, all their time in and out of motel rooms with questionable cleanliness and greasy diners that still had food cooked on the silverware, they really didn't get sick all that often. Running noses weren't their norm, and a scratchy voice was usually due to yelling in the heat of a hunt rather than clogged sinuses draining down the throat.
Yet, just like most things in life, if a Winchester was going to go for it, he was going to go all out. Which meant that when an illness finally did catch up with them, it took them down hard and long and usually before either of them had a chance to realize what was happening.
It had hit Dean first—the flu, and a nasty case at that. Dean had spent the better part of a week curled up in bed, alternating between hot flashes and chills while Sam fed him Tylenol and soup and entertained him with commentary on the state of life and whatever infomercial happened to be on.
Recovery finally came, though, and Dean was more than anxious to blow this town. He'd been cooped up far too long, and from the look of Sam's unusually pale skin, it looked like his kid brother had, too. They needed sunlight, the great outdoors, the open road ahead of them.
And, damn. It felt good. Dean's nose was still a little raw from all the blowing and his chest still ached a little, but he felt alive behind the wheel of his baby, looking for a hunt, his dork of a kid brother by his side.
With a sigh, he settled deeper into the Impala's leather. He pushed his sunglasses on and turned up the radio. Let the good times roll…
The good times lasted for about seven hours. Dean was so content with life that he drove straight through the day, barely even stopping for food or bathroom breaks. When he finally pulled off for dinner at a rundown looking greasy spoon, he piled out of the car eagerly, slamming his door behind him.
That was when it all went south.
He didn't even see it happen. He heard Sam's door swing open, then a thump echoed in his mind.
And Sam was nowhere to be seen.
Surprised, he rushed to the other side of the car. "Sam?" he asked, his confusion tinged with worry.
Sam was on all fours, visibly panting, and he looked up at Dean through sweat-soaked bangs. "I don't feel so well," he said, and his voice was strained and congested.
Dean scrunched up his nose and groaned. "You can't be sick."
Sam pushed himself up until he was standing shakily, one hand on the car. "I'm sorry, Dean," he said, his body trembling with the effort. The kid's face paled even more. "I—I really don't feel well."
With a sigh, Dean pushed Sam back down to sit in the Impala. "Just…sit there," he said, exasperated. "I'll get something to go for both of us."
Sam looked up at him again, looking pathetically hopeful.
"Yeah, yeah," Dean muttered. "Soup it is."
Sam grateful grin was hardly enough compensation as he trudged inside.
By the time Dean got to eat his buffalo burger with fries, the meat was cold and the fries were wilting so badly that not even ketchup could make them edible. Finding a motel hadn't been all that hard, but getting Sam inside had been another story entirely.
Sam meant well, as the kid usually did, but Sam seemed to underestimate his illness as well as his size. Insisting he could walk on his own, Sam stood himself up in the parking lot, a mere ten feet from the door, and promptly fell back down.
How Sam didn't hurt himself in the entire thing was still a mystery to Dean. Though Dean was still feeling the pain—lugging Sam's weight those ten feet had been quite a chore, and he wondered briefly what a hernia felt like.
Despite that, Sam was tucked into bed, doped up on Tylenol, and sleeping soundly while his soup grew lackluster on the table next to him.
Dean toyed with a piece of lettuce on his burger, pulling off the browning green leaf and dropping it into his Styrofoam container. Looking up, he glared at Sam. The burger had looked much better at the diner. "You owe me," he said.
Sam slept on, and Dean let his shoulders slouch. The fact that Sam got sick from doting on him was something to consider.
Dean took another bite of his lukewarm burger and scowled.
Something to consider, and disregard. Not only was his dinner cold, but he was going to be cooped up in a motel room—again.
He eyed his home for the next few days. The wall paper was peeling at the seams, the popcorn ceiling was dingy and full of nicks (from what, Dean had no idea). The bedspreads were thin and faded and the carpet was worn down and coarse. All in all, not the best place they'd ever stayed.
With a sigh, he reached for the remote. At least cable TV was something he could always count on.
The screen flashed static. Dean flipped the channel, but only found more static. He got up, smacked the machine, and the static shifted to the side but persisted.
Oh, yeah. Sam definitely owed him.
Dean really should have predicted it.
After all, anything Sam did, like a tried and true Winchester, Sam liked to do completely. He didn't go halfway with things. Damn kid was like their dad in that way, which was probably the problem to begin with. And Sam had a fantastically stereotypical little brother complex. Whatever Dean did, Sam wanted to do—only better.
Apparently that applied to being sick.
Because when Dean woke up the next morning, a crick in his neck from the formless and fluffless pillows, Sam was on his back in the other bed, a sheen of sweat on his face, his lips moving slightly but no sound coming out.
"Sam?" he asked, a little tentative. Sam was prone to dreams, always had been, and he didn't want to overreact or anything.
Sam didn't respond. His head twitched a little as he shivered.
Dean threw his legs over the side of the bed, standing. "Sammy?" he asked again, edging closer.
It was then that Dean could see the wetness of Sam's hair, the severity of the tremors in his body, the unnatural paleness beyond his fever-flushed cheeks.
Dean swore, moving a gentle hand to Sam's brow.
He nearly pulled it away in surprise.
Sam was burning up. This wasn't just some little fever. This was something more—something serious—something—
Dean stood, moving quickly to the dresser where he'd dumped their stuff the night before. Fumbling now with new urgency, he retrieved the thermometer. Maybe he was just cold, he reasoned. Maybe the coolness of his hand just made the fever seem worse.
The thermometer in hand, he moved quickly back to Sam's side, tilting his brother's head to the side and sweeping the sweaty hair out of the way. Inserting the device into his brother's ear, he waited for it to beep.
Throughout it all, Sam muttered, moaned a little, but didn't wake. His eyes darted beneath closed lids and it was all Dean could do to keep from biting his lip until it bled.
At the beep, Dean turned it back, and his stomach dropped. 104.1. And from the looks of it, still climbing.
Numb, Dean sunk to the bed beside his brother. Waking Sam wasn't really an option—his brother wouldn't be coherent with a fever of that grade. Taking Sam to the hospital was also not an option—they couldn't afford to take that kind of risk and they didn't have the money or insurance for it anyway.
With a reassuring hand, he stroked Sam's hair away from his forehead. Sam shuddered at the contact before rolling toward Dean's presence.
"Easy, Sam," he soothed. "Just take it easy."
Because Dean would take care of everything—one way or another.
It was a long night. Sam was feverish, and badly so. Dean force fed him more Tylenol and took to wiping him down with cool washcloths. Sam alternated between chills and hot sweats, mumbling incoherently from time to time.
Throughout it all, Dean was there. The TV was on, its static picture filling the room with a hazy glow. But Dean kept it muted in the background because there was only one thing that mattered.
When Sam's fever spiked, Dean's anxiety rose with it. And when it broke in the early hours of the morning, Dean was there to mop the sweat of Sam's brow.
And as Sam settled into the long sleep of recovery, Dean crashed by his side. Brothers, in sickness and in health, and Dean wouldn't trade that--not for a buffalo burger, not for a night of cable. Not even for the hunt and the open road.
Not for anything in this world.
They both woke, groggy and achy. Sam was fuzzy on the details, and Dean remembered them too clearly to really want to share.
"Sorry," Sam said, a little breathless when he finally came out of the bathroom, showered and shaved. "I mean, I don't even remember last night. How out of it was I?"
Dean raised his eyebrows and gave him a look. He had raided the snack machine outside and was currently devouring his second bag of M&M's. "Remember when I said Winchesters don't get sick?"
Sam frowned a little, sitting gingerly on his bed. He picked up a bag of chips, opening it carefully. "Yeah."
"Well, for once, I can readily admit that I was wrong," Dean said, popping another handful of candies in his mouth.
Sam snorted with laughter as he pulled a chip from the bag. "You know part of the problem could be that we never eat balanced meals and are on the road all the time?"
Dean gave him a look. "Dude, hold your tongue!" he said.
Sam rolled his eyes. "Yeah, so what is it?"
"It's not my fault you're a contrary little bitch."
Sam gave him a small bitchface, but his eyes were alive with humor and relief. "Yeah, well," Sam returned. "You're a stupid jerk."
Dean grinned at him, dumping the rest of the bag in his mouth. "Damn straight," he said. "And don't you forget it, little brother."