A/N: I had the urge to write something. My friend fantasy-junkie25 wrote me a list of stories I had to write, and I was inspired to write this one. I have a horrible tendency to never, ever look over my stuff before I post it, nor do I have a beta. So here's basically my rough draft. I apologize for any grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, or if I use the same word too many times.
Sam had been coughing pretty much non-stop for the past three days.
For the first two, I was trying really hard to be sympathetic. I mean, the kid was obviously miserable. He'd try to say something, but would break off halfway through into a painful fit of coughs that left his face beet red and his eyes all watery. I tried to make sure there was always a glass of water or orange juice on his bedside table, set out Tylenol for him, emptied the garbage can when it became too full of discarded tissues, and kept the volume of the TV low enough so he could sleep.
But on the third day, when I was once again woken up by Sam's deep chest coughs, I'd had about enough. Just once, I'd like to get an actual night's sleep.
Right. Like Sam was the reason I hadn't been sleeping.
I guess I wasn't really peeved about missing sleep. I hadn't slept well in a long time anyway. I guess I was just sick of hearing him cough all the damn time.
The rattling coughs from the bed next to me drew my attention. I turned over to face my little brother, who was hunched over on his side, eyes scrunched shut, and looking like death warmed over. He must have noticed I was awake because he opened his eyes and looked at me apologetically, coughing a couple more times.
I sighed, resigned to the idea of another day of Sammy care, and got out of bed. After taking care of my morning business, I grabbed his glass, filled it with orange juice, picked up the bottle of Tylenol along the way, and set them by Sam.
My brother rasped out a noise, which I translated to be one of gratitude.
As I sat back down on my bed, I took the time to examine Sam. His eyes were red and glassy, his nose rubbed raw from blowing his nose so many times, and his cheeks were flushed from a slight fever. Basically, my kid brother looked like shit. My annoyance ebbed away at the sight of his misery. Being mad at him now would be like kicking a puppy after a car just hit it.
The most annoying part of the whole thing was that Sam wouldn't even complain. I had yet to hear Sam piss and moan about being sick, even after he composed himself following a five-minute coughing fit that left him breathless, or when he blew his nose for the millionth time in ten minutes. He just sat there and took it, and I didn't know how to handle that.
"You need anything else, Sam?"
Sam opened his mouth and squeaked something unintelligible.
"Is that a 'no'?"
Seemingly giving up the idea of speaking, Sam just nodded.
"Can't talk, eh? I guess two days of coughing your lungs out will do that to you. I'm heading out, so I'll pick up something to soothe your throat."
Sam grunted, "I d' n'd—" before he started hacking again.
I huffed a laugh and said, "Right. I'm sure your throat just feels awesome right now. Quit trying to talk, dude."
Sam tried to glare at me over the blankets he had pulled up to his nose, but somehow I wasn't feeling too threatened. I glanced at the clock. 5:13. Wonderful.
As Sam emptied his nose into a tissue, I pulled on some clothes. Sniffing my shirt and deeming it passable, I said, "We're gonna have to do laundry soon." Sam shifted in his bed.
I walked to the counter and filled up another glass, this time with water and set that by Sam's bed. "In case you drink the rest of your orange juice while I'm out." He blinked at me.
Before leaving, I made sure that Sam had everything he needed. Tissues, garbage can, water, juice, pills, the remote, blankets… Check.
"I'm gonna get some food. I should be back soon, okay?"
Sam waved his hand pathetically, so I figured he got the message.
"All right then."
I went to the nearest gas station. As much as I needed to get out of that hotel room for a little while, I wasn't really comfortable leaving Sam all by himself when he was sick.
As I opened the glass door, I heard a little bell chime and a high-pitched "Good morning!" from the register. Nodding a greeting towards the overly cheerful cashier (who the hell is that chipper at 5:30 in the morning?), I made my way to the grocery section.
My eyes roamed over the shelves of various soups and other comfort foods. I couldn't help but be reminded of all the times I used to pick up soup for my brother when he got sick. He'd have to stay home from school, against his will, the little geek. I was the awesome brother who picked up some food and a couple books for my brother on my way home. Sammy would look at me with his big, puppy eyes like I was the most amazing thing he'd ever seen.
I missed that.
My smile slipped a little. Sam and I… We just hadn't been the same, not since the whole Apocalypse started. Even before that, actually. He and I used to be really close. We knew the other like the back of our own hands. He wasn't just my brother; he was my best friend, too. We trusted each other without question. I guess both of us dying (more than once), being screwed with and forced apart by angels and demons, and starting the end of the world will do that to a brotherly relationship.
I just didn't know Sam anymore, and he more than likely felt the same way about me. Four years ago, I could've predicted almost anything that came out of that kid's mouth, how he'd react to a situation, what set him off, which words could calm him down – all of it. But now it was all up in the air. Too much had changed between us.
For example, I still didn't understand why Sam was being so silent about being sick. I suppose it wasn't really that big of a deal, but usually when one of us was under the weather, there'd be an appropriate amount of complaining going on. Being seriously injured was different – there was no whining about those, but an illness was a different story. However, this time around, Sam didn't say a word. And whenever I'd go fetch something for him, be it a glass of water or some more meds, he'd look almost guilty.
I just didn't get it. Helping each other when one of us was sick used to go without saying. Becoming ill couldn't be helped – it just happened. And looking out for the other was like second nature. Why Sam was suddenly acting so strangely about this was baffling.
I'd give anything to turn back the clock; take us back to when times were simpler. When it was just Sam and I, on the road – no demons or angels getting in the way.
Shaking my head of that depressing bout of nostalgia, I picked up a few bowls of microwaveable soup, stopped by the refrigerated section to grab some bottles of orange juice and Gatorade, then walked up to the counter.
"Good morning again, sir! Did you find everything you needed?" asked the ludicrously happy cashier whose nametag boasted "Sherry."
I grimaced in what I hoped passed for a pleasant sort of smile and responded, "Yeah."
She scanned everything into the computer and chirped, beaming from ear to ear, "That'll be $10.65, sir!"
I set some cash on the counter and snatched the bag, quickly leaving the store without bothering to wait for my change. It was way too early in the morning to deal with that level of energy. But I didn't leave quickly enough to miss the "Have a wonderful day!" that followed me out the door.
I rushed back to the room, suddenly feeling an urge to be near my brother, but I still tried to be as quiet as possible when entering the room in case Sam was sleeping. Once I'd successfully closed the door without making too much noise, I turned around to set the bags on the table while glancing at Sam sleeping on the bed, the sound of his congested snores filling up the otherwise silent room.
Relieved, I moved to put the food and drinks away without rustling the bags too much. By the time I finished and sat back on my bed, Sam was awake again, staring at me blearily.
"Hey, Sammy. How you feeling?"
Sam just kept staring at me.
"That good, huh?" I said, and then got up to grab the bottle of cough syrup from the bathroom. "I think you're up for another dose of this, right?"
He blinked at me, his eyes looking glazed and pitiful.
I poured him a little cup-full of the stuff, then handed it to my brother. He downed the syrup with shaky hands then handed the small cup back to me.
Sam settled back into the bed. He still looked a little flushed, so I put my hand on his forehead to gauge his temperature, ignoring Sam's feeble attempts to push my hand away.
Satisfied, I said, "You don't feel like you've got a horrible fever. I don't think you'll be burning from the inside-out anytime soon." I smirked then went to make myself a cup of coffee.
Once I'd gotten myself a cup, I relaxed on my bed again and flipped on the television. I found some random sitcom and started watching, my attention not really on the show. I was discreetly watching Sam as he burrowed further under the covers, coughing every once in a while and blowing his nose every two minutes.
Eventually, I started to doze off. I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before (go figure), and Sam wasn't doing anything to require my immediate assistance, so I allowed myself to relax a little further onto the bed.
Too bad I forgot about the cup of hot coffee in my hand.
Coffee spilled all over the place from the cup that slipped out of my hand. I leapt off my bed and stared at the carnage. No way was I going to sit back on my coffee-covered bed.
Glancing over sheepishly to Sam's bed, where my brother was watching me with mild amusement, I noted that Sam was scrunched up real close to the left side of his bed. One look back to my ruined sheets and I made up my mind.
Crossing to the other side of the room, I made myself at home on the right side of Sam's bed. Sam turned his head to give me a questioning look, and then flipped himself all the way onto his back.
I ignored the question I saw clearly in Sam's eyes, and changed the subject by asking, "Wanna watch TV?"
Sam stared at me with hooded eyes and nodded very slightly.
I was a bit pickier this time around when picking what to watch as I was hoping to actually stay awake this time. I stopped flipping through channels when I spotted Speed on one of them.
"Hah! Man, it's been a while since I've watched this. I think last time was three years ago, after that black dog we took out in Portland."
Sam nodded again, a small smile on his face. Well, there was one until he sneezed loudly into the tissue bunched in his hand. He emptied his nostrils once again and gave me another one of those apologetic looks.
"Dude, you don't have to be sorry or anything. You're sick. Can't help that."
He just stared at me for a couple of seconds then turned back to the television screen.
The rest of the movie passed uneventfully, Sam drifting in and out of sleep, and me making commentary for Sam's amusement.
"Keanu Reeves really only plays one emotion. Have you ever noticed that?"
"No friggin' way would that bus have made that jump. They proved it wrong on Mythbusters. Didja see that episode?"
I don't know what got into me. Recently, Sam and I barely talked about anything but whatever hunt we were on at the time, but today I was babbling. Probably didn't hurt that Sam couldn't say anything back. Maybe that made it a little easier.
Soon enough, the movie was over, and the channel was already showing another. Only then did I realize that Sam and I watched a movie together. Together.
And it was nice.Comfortable, even.
"Dude, when was the last time you and I sat down to just watch TV?"
I knew I was running the risk of initiating a chick-flick moment, but I was in one of those rare moods where the idea didn't freak me out in the slightest
Sam appeared to think about the question for a second then held up two fingers.
He nodded again, giving me the "I'm sorry" face again. Except this time I understood where it came from.
I let out an awkward sort of chuckle, scratched the back of my head, and said, "Yeah, it's, uh… It's been a while since we've done anything fun, hasn't it?"
Another nod. Only Sam could make a simple head nod look so sad.
"We should do this more. You know, do… brother stuff. Like we used to."
Sam stared at me for a few moments before a smile broke out on his face, one of those brilliantly white smiles that are like the sun coming out from behind the clouds.
Christ Almighty, I'm turning into such a girl.
Another thought popped into my head, and I smiled more than I care to admit.
"You realize we just had an entire conversation without you saying a single word?" I watched Sam's eyes lit up a little bit as he gave me another grin. Feeling a little too sappy at the moment, I added, "We should do that more often, too."
A half-hearted glare was sent in my direction, along with a weak poke in the ribs.
Delighted with my revelation, and pleased that Sam looked far less miserable than he did when I woke up, I settled in to watch whatever was on TV.
Five minutes later, when Sam collapsed into another fit of painful, chest coughs, both of us pretended not to notice the comforting hand I placed on his shoulder. And that I happened to leave it there long after Sam collected himself again meant nothing at all.