DISCLAIMER: I own neither Breaking Benjamin nor Supernatural.
'Into the nothing
Faded and weary
I won't leave and let you fall behind
Live for the dying
Heaven hear me
I know we can make it out alive
Stay with me
You're all I have left'
-Breaking Benjamin - Into the Nothing
It started as a runny nose and a mild case of congestion that just wouldn't go away. Both those symptoms though, could be explained by the persistent cold December winds in the Upstate New York town.
Oswego was known for its winters, for the snow and for the cold. The college itself had a reputation for its 'rope course' which had been rumored to be the only way for students to make it to and from class in the harsh winters.
Sam had brushed the cotton feeling in his head and the dribbling of snot from his mind, content to just keep a box of Kleenex nearby and go to his classes. After all it wouldn't do for an seventeen year old senior in contention for valedictorian to be missing school.
Yeah, that's what he would keep telling himself.
Snuffing his nose against the snot that threatened to dribble from it, Sam continued on his walk home from school, ducking his chin into the meager protection of his coat collar. He clutched his fists tighter into the pockets of the worn thin jacket, trying to keep the little warmth he had left in his fingers from being leeched out.
His nose and ears were cold and red tipped, his hair wind blown and eyes squinted against the wind. It had been getting steadily cooler in the small town since the start of the month, and with the added wind, the cold was even more raw on his unprotected skin.
Dean had been telling him that they would go and get him a new coat soon, something that would give him more protection, but they had yet to go looking. At first Sam had been content to let the whole thing slide, but with the downturn of the weather, he knew the issue needed to be pressed and that he needed to get the coat sooner rather than later.
The little congestion he had the week before had progressed and was now a full on case of not being able to breathe in deeply at all. The little intakes of air he was getting were now starting to whistle in and out, and his chest felt as if it had been strapped and bound tight.
His nose had dried up, but now blisters and raw skin lined the inside and the tip, an uncomfortable sensation, that irritated Sam to no end.
It had been hard, but so far he had managed to keep the whole thing from his older brother, though just barely. Sam was willing to bet though, if he skipped dinner again tonight; even if only for fear of rebellion from his stomach; Dean wouldn't be so willing to let the whole matter go.
There was only so much, 'I ate at school Dean, I'm not hungry right now,' could do, especially when it was widely known that Sam had a hollow leg and would do anything to fill it. Dean was already watching him a little more closely than he usually did, and Sam didn't want to do anything to trip his 'big brother monitor' onto full alert.
With that thought in mind, Sam sighed and continued his slow trudge home.
Reaching the small rundown house that was posing as 'home' for the time being, Sam let out a breath he didn't know he was holding when he saw the Impala and his father's truck both missing from the driveway. His father must have still been on the hunt he had taken the weekend before, and Dean was probably working late again.
Wandering through the house, Sam dropped his bag on a beaten chair in the small kitchen and reached for the note and menu lying in the middle of the table.
Working late, should be back around eight.
Call in an order for subs and I'll pick it up on the
way home. Don't get none of that healthy crap
on mine either or I'll kick your ass.
Sam quirked a weary, little smile, nodding to himself and looked at the clock. It was just past four in the afternoon, giving him a good three hours before he had to call anything in. Three hours he could spend working on homework, making a dent on the heavy workload that had been dumped on him leading up to winter break.
Setting the alarm on the stove for seven, Sam grabbed his work and sat down at the small breakfast bar, intent to get through at least half of the work due by the end of the week.
Three hours later he was startled out of his sleep by the loud beeping on the stove, his head pounding in time to the alarm. His eyes were scratchy and heavy, his throat a writhing mass of fire. Blearily, Sam slid from the stool he was on, leaning heavily on the counter when the room swirled around him, and warmth rushed through his head.
Sam sucked in a hasty gasp of air, "Whoa," he breathed, eyes widening in response to the sensation, even as his chest groaned in response to his sudden indrawn breath. He shook off the off balance feeling and wandered over to the stove.
"Must've fallen 'sleep." He mumbled to himself as he switched the alarm on the stove off.
He leaned over and grabbed the phone, wandering back over to where the menu for the local sub shop was on the dining table. Dialing the number, he recited the circled sub order, and ordered a plain turkey and cheese one for himself, knowing Dean wouldn't be happy if he only ordered the one sub.
Putting the phone back down, Sam moaned and frowned a little as the ache in his arm let itself be known. The moan caught on his tender throat and he coughed, phlegm and spit ripping their way up the fiery pit of his throat, and coming out as a harsh ripping cough that brought tears to his eyes.
Rubbing a hand over his face, he scrubbed away the trace of moisture in his eyes, and wearily turned to look back at the clock. 7:15 glared back at him in blaring red, and Sam internally grieved for the time he had lost falling asleep.
Looking over to the pile of unfinished work, Sam sighed and went back over to pick up where he had left off. He had only gotten about an hour's worth of work done before falling asleep before, so he needed to really concentrate in order to get to where he wanted to be before the night's end.
Scrubbing a weary hand over his face, Sam sighed and unconsciously reached over with his left hand to rub the aching joints of his right, not wanting to get back to homework. Groaning, he chided himself on the lazy behavior and picked up his pen, reminding himself that he still had stretches and warm ups to do before he went to bed.
It was going to be a long night.
Dean pulled in the driveway at five minutes to eight, and walked into the house grinning like a Cheshire cat. It had been a long but good day, and he was looking forward to unwinding with his sub and his brother. He was going to let the younger man skip the nightly routine, and get him to just sit down and watch some TV.
It had been too long since they had just hung out together, and Dean was sick of it. Sam had been working himself to hard lately, and it was time for him to take a break, even if it was just for the night.
Grinning he nodded to himself. It was a good plan and he was fully intending to follow through with it.
Walking into the kitchen, Dean found Sam at the breakfast bar, nose thoroughly buried in a book, other books and papers scattered over the rest of the counter. It looked like his brother hadn't even heard him come in, and that just wasn't like Sammy. It had been ingrained into his brain since he had started training to listen and be aware of everything around him.
The fact that Sam hadn't noticed him, spiked something on Dean's radar, but he brushed it off and dropped the bag of subs in front of his little brother. Sam started and Dean grinned until he got a good look at the younger man's face.
Dark circles lined the underside of Sam's glazed eyes, and pink stood bright on his cheeks. His face was pale, and the corners of his eyes and mouth were pinched in lines of pain.
"Sammy?" He asked in quiet concern, waiting while his brother tried to focus his eyes on him. Sam gave him a parody of a weak smile, which in truth looked more like a grimace, and then looked down at the bag in front of him, with what would have been an amusingly stupid expression of confusion if it hadn't been obvious that he was sick.
"Dean?" His voice caught on the name, a harsh coughing fit following. Sam bowed over a little, one hand pressing against his chest and the other flat against the table. Dean winced at the grating coughs, watching as Sam's face reddened the longer the fit lasted.
"Yeah," He breathed walked around the counter and settling his palm between Sam's shoulder blades. He took in the half finished work in front of his brother and internally sighing. "C'mon Sammy, it's time for a break, why don't we take these subs and go spread out in front of the TV?"
"K," Sam whispered, still breathing hard, little wheezes accompanying each intake of breath. He was still looking down at the work in front of him as if he had no clue what the papers were doing in front of him.
Lips turning down in a frown, Dean silently registered that whatever was going on with Sam wasn't just a little flu. He mentally smacked himself for not catching whatever was going on with the younger man sooner.
Sliding his palm under Sam's arm, Dean guided him gently to his feet and turned him toward the small living room. Sam swayed dangerously at the movement, and Dean tightened his grip, holding on until Sam seemed to be steadier on his feet.
"Ok?" he asked looking Sam in the eyes. Sam swallowed and nodded, squeezing his eyes shut briefly before opening them again and meeting Dean's gaze.
Dean looked back at him steadily, before nodding and gently pushing the younger man towards the other room, making sure to keep his grip steady. When they reached the couch, Dean pushed Sam down onto the worn cushions, making sure he was settled before going back into the kitchen.
Returning a few minutes later, Dean set a glass of water down on the small coffee table, and reached out to grab Sam's wrist. Pulling his arm back, Dean turned Sam's palm up and dropped three Tylenol into the hand, and pushed it towards his brother's mouth, reaching back to grab the water behind him, and handing it to the younger man when the Tylenol had been placed in his mouth.
Sam swallowed the Tylenol and a few sips of the water, his grip on the shaking glass white knuckled. "Sam?" Dean asked, kneeling down. When Sam looked at him, he gave him a little smile, "how long've you been sick?" He asked softly.
"Dunno. A week?" The answer was scratchy and confused, and Dean's stomach wrenched into a tight knot.
"When's the last time you ate?" He asked after a minute, remembering the excuses Sam had been giving him the past couple days.
"Not hungry," Sam mumbled, closing his eyes and leaning his head back.
"I understand that," Dean placated, and reached up to gently smack Sam's cheek until he opened his eyes. "But how long's it been since you ate?"
Sam sighed and blearily reached up to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Yesterday? Day before maybe?" The answer was as uncertain as the rest of him, and Dean had to fight back a moan.
"Okay, I'm gonna go make you some soup; which you will eat; and grab you a glass of juice, and I'll be back." Sam shut his eyes again and nodded, accepting the fact that Dean wasn't going to back down.
It seemed like only seconds later when he was being shaken awake and Sam whimpered at the jarring motion. "C'mon little brother, time to eat something."
Sam looked at the steaming soup in his brother's hand, and felt his stomach churn in disgust. He turned back to Dean's face, wanting to tell him that he couldn't do it, couldn't put anything in his stomach, but the resolve in the older man's eyes stopped him.
He held out shaky hands for the bowl and flinched at the strong smell, looking down to see the swirls of grease mixed in with the yellow broth, and swallowed hard. Dean sat down next to him, reaching for his own sandwich, all the while watching Sam out of the corner of his eye.
Sam silently prayed that his stomach would hold the soup, and lifted the spoon, knowing that nothing was going make Dean back down.
Hours later Sam was curled into Dean's side on the couch, blanket tucked around him, soup sitting half eaten and cold on the coffee table in front of them.
Sam had done his best, but when he had finally pushed the soup away, Dean had seen the green tint to his face and let the matter drop. He had silently kept watching the TV, and steadily dragged Sam closer until the younger man was snuggled into his side, breaths wheezing in and out in a soft rhythm.
Dean scratched his head and looked down at Sam, knowing that he had dropped the ball in catching Sam's sickness before it got this bad, but vowing he would take care of Sam now that he did know.
It was his big brother duty.
'Stay with me and all I have left,
I know we can make it out alive.'
A/N: This was for sendintheclowns a Christmas present I hope she'll like, in appreciation for all the awesome beta'ing and needling she's done this year to help me better my stories.