A/N: This was originally going to be a part of a longer story my friend and I wrote together, only we never got around to it. After I wrote this scene, it went a completely different direction than we wanted to go with it, and we never bothered picking up the loose ends (like I don't know, plot?). As is, it's just a hurt/comfort scene which approaches the dangerously sappy, but instead of spilling over into Wincest it attempts a nervous, sophomoric hilarity.
This story could basically happen anytime during (or a bit before) the series. Bobby figures prominently, so take from that what you will as per the timeline, but it's general enough, without specific references to canon, that you could honestly put it anywhere.
Disclaimer: Obviously, don't own anything. Playing in Kripke's sandbox.
Conveniently, Dean was only semi-conscious by the time they made their way to Bobby's winter safehouse. His unconsciousness was self-induced, by sheer strength of will: he wasn't about to make Sam have to carry him to the cottage, and he had tried his damnedest to keep it together then, but he sure as hell wasn't going to be helpful—much less awake—when Sam was playing doctor.
Sam dumped his brother gently but unceremoniously onto the small bed before going to the door and bolting it. He rushed, then, to the medical supplies, pulling off his ski jacket not because he was warm but because it got in the way. While water boiled on the electric stove, he began stripping the unconscious Dean of his clothes. Finding, as he went, that the wounds were worse than he had previously thought, with an expletive he pulled out his folding knife to cut the rest of the clothes from Dean's body. Although this was standard first aid procedure, Sam would later kick himself for not thinking far enough ahead: he was cutting Dean out of the only clothes he had. And it was getting colder outside.
Dean had lied to him. Like he knew he would, of course—that was practically standard procedure—the obligatory "I'm fine, let's worry about the problem at hand"—but Sam hadn't expected it to be quite this bad. There were seven, not three, wounds on his body, all bleeding out. Dean wasn't that bad at math. The lances themselves, icicles, had melted, leaving the holes—the largest, in his right thigh, the size of a golf ball—wide open, gaping and bleeding. It took the better part of Uncle Bobby's medical supplies to stop the bleeding, and not all of the wounds were the convenient size that stayed stitched shut.
An hour or so after Sam had made his brother as well as he could, and covered him with all the blankets in the house—only then realizing how many levels of retarded he was to have destroyed the t-shirt and jeans, even if they did look like Swiss cheese—Dean woke. As the waves of pain washed over him with the return of consciousness, Dean shut his eyes almost immediately and cussed.
"Whoa, easy, Dean. Don't move."
"Damn right I'm not moving. Oh, God, Sammy, how many times he hit me?"
"Once." Sam frowned. "Just in seven different places."
"Only seven?" Dean considered his body a minute, counted the places where pain was more pronounced, found this to be about accurate, then, as another burning question imposed itself on him, lifted his head. This movement was stupid and painful—and he felt a noticeable wave of warmth over his shoulder and his side where he was sure the two wounds had leaked a little—but he asked the question while he was up, anyway: "Where are my clothes?"
"Uh." Sam looked guilty.
Dean's head flopped back to the pillow and he glared accusingly at his brother. "Well, then I guess it is just me when I bitch that it's freaking cold in here."
Sam's face was a novel. "Seriously? You're cold? Like, how cold?"
Dean wrinkled his brow and shifted himself a little—though not enough to cause another breach. "Um. Cold? Uncle Bobby not believe in heating the cabin, or what?"
"Well, there's a generator, but I'm not sure how long it'll last. Our man Jack's cut the electricity and the phones—we can't even get cell reception up here—there's a little firewood, but…"
"So we're boned and I'm gonna freeze to death. Great. Maybe I'll bleed to death first."
Sam licked his lips. "That's kinda just it, Dean. You lost a lot of blood. That'll be why you're cold." Pouting, Sam pulled off his down jacket and laid it over Dean. "Here."
"The hell?" Not What the hell?, just, The hell?: the difference was important. It meant Dean already knew what was going on and didn't like it one bit. "I'm not taking that."
"It's okay, Dean. I'm fine, I don't need it."
There wasn't enough blood in Dean's brain to handle this level of stupidity. He closed his eyes. Weakly, "Please, Sam. Just put the damn thing on. It won't do either of us any good if we're both popsicles when Jack Frost decides to stage his comeback."
"Oh, he's already back. He's—um—they're waiting for us. Outside."
Dean glanced out the window: he thought it had been his head spinning, but the background noise was actual wind, hurricane levels whipping snow and hail around the cabin. Jack couldn't get in, but they weren't about to get out. "Well, shit, Sam, what else do I need to know?"
"Um. There's not a lot of food. Maybe three days, if we go easy. Plenty of water, though, if we can thaw it."
"Fan-friggen-tastic. What else?"
"Um. You know how you and Bobby don't see eye to eye on music?..."
"God. Kill me now."
Sam pouted. "Dean, don't say that."
"Don't be an infant, I was kidding. What's in that cabinet there?"
"I dunno. Most of the stores, probably. We don't have the code for it, though."
"So what? It's Bobby's. Just bust it open, we'll buy him a new one."
"You don't think I would've done that already? This is Bobby we're talking about, here. If he doesn't want anyone to get in, they're not getting in."
"Look, let me try." Dean shifted himself and made to try to ease himself into a sitting position, but Sam was on him in a second:
"Dean, stop moving! Damnit, Dean, Jesus Christ! Can't you just relax and let me take care of things for two minutes? I've got it under control already!"
Dean bridled, then smirked. "Gosh. Didn't strike me as the powertop type, Sammy."
Sam gave him the enough games look. "You're not helping me by trying to bleed out everywhere, all right? Just stop hurting yourself. I'm taking care of everything."
"Oh. Great." Dean closed his eyes, wondering if that counted as a Star Wars reference. After a moment: "So how's that going?" He opened his eyes again and, careful not to lift his head, looked at Sam. "Got a gameplan for getting out of here?"
"No," Sam snapped back petulantly. "No way. No way you could walk in that condition. No way I'd leave you here, either. No way, even if I did leave you, I could get out, much less kill this thing, whatever it is—Dad's journal's got nothing, and this place isn't exactly a wifi hotspot, so I can't do any research." Sam was in know-it-all mode. He could go on like this for hours. To save himself the agony of his brain melting out his ears, Dean decided to interrupt:
"So what can we do?"
Sam sighed. "We can wait."
Dean blinked. "That the best you got?"
Sam pursed his lips, daring Dean to defy him. "Yeah, actually. We got three days of food—five if we really stretch it—that's a while. And we can survive much longer than that. During that time, we're safe. Jack can't get in here. Who knows? He may get bored and go away in five or six days."
"Unlikely, but I'm digging the positive attitude."
"Well, yeah. Probably not. At the very least Bobby should show up in…a week, tops."
Dean blinked, again. "We're sitting here and waiting to be rescued?"
"There was an alarm when we came in. Bobby will know we got in here. If he hasn't heard from us in a few days, he'll…probably try to call. And since we can't answer, he'll probably assume the worst and come to check on us. He'll go in carefully—more carefully than we did, anyway—and probably take care of our friend out there."
"I'm hearing a lot of probablys."
"Have I been wrong before?"
"Well—no—but—but this isn't the average flying velocity of an African swallow kind of right or wrong. This is just a bad plan."
"You got a better one?"
"Not waiting around in case Bobby decides to get a hunch something might be wrong? Rule number one is hunters look out for themselves. You can't ever bank on someone else rescuing you. That's how you get dead."
"Well, what do you think we should do?"
Dean cast about. It was hard to argue with Sam at the best of times, and he was getting tired. "I—I don't know! Talk to it, maybe. Learn something about it, negotiate. I don't know."
Sam folded his arms. "That's stupid. Since when do you want to talk?"
"Or just throw everything we have at it! Damnit, Sam, we can't just wait here! No one's going to rescue us—" Now Dean really did sit up, and in his earnestness he managed the movement completely before the pain washed over him and blood washed down his chest. He'd sprung three of the leaks, the three major ones, and he was suddenly, more than anything, very dizzy. He blacked out for only a second, and when he came to Sam was lowering him gently to the pillow, pressing his hand into Dean's thigh, where the most blood showed through the bandages. The covers were thrown back, and he was very cold, but he knew better than to shiver, or groan, or do much of anything, because Sam was livid. That, combined with the pain and the dizziness, was enough to cool Dean's mood and, frankly, shock him into submission.
Sam was cussing a blue streak under his breath, and Dean was pretty sure it was directed at him.
Sufficiently cowed, he took a cautious breath: "Uh, sorry. That was stupid."
"Don't talk," Sam snapped.
Dean sighed, but didn't say anything.
"Jesus fucking Christ, Dean, how retarded are you exactly? —Don't answer that. And don't you dare get all defensive." Sam looked ready to throttle him. And as weak as he felt right then, Dean would've bet dollars to doughnuts Sam could manage it if he really wanted to. "You're just doing this to prove how tough you are, and so I don't worry. I get it, okay? You're tough, you're macho, you can function on one pint of blood. Cool. I'll put it on your tombstone, okay?"
The fight was out of Dean. He gave an obligatory roll of the eyes, but then he nodded. "Sorry. You're right, Sam, I—"
"I said don't talk," Sam growled.
Dean gave up, and lay silent and still while Sam piled more gauze on the three major wounds: the right thigh, the left shoulder, and left side. Sam unbandaged the gut wound to check it again: he wasn't bleeding black or yellow, so that was good. Well, considering. After a few minutes Dean began shivering, unable to help himself, from the coldness of the room. Sam covered him back up as quickly as he could, but the trembling continued for some time. Sam tried not to watch, but it was as horrifying as a train wreck: he was ghostly pale, and kind of gray and lifeless. He was cold, and in pain, and wasn't hiding it very well. For Dean, that meant it was bad. Very bad.
Sam waited smartly, like he did everything else. He didn't waste one joule of heat energy, either. When he was done with the cooker warming their food, he would always put the still-hot burner at Dean's feet to warm them. He closed them into the living area, shutting all the doors and windows so he had only to work on heating one room. But Jack Frost was pounding at the gates outside, and cold was an element that could cross even safehouse walls. It took a lot of energy just to keep it above freezing in the room, and by the third day the generator died—well, needed to be primed again, from the outside, which wasn't happening—leaving them in darkness, and there was only enough gas to heat the two cans of pork and beans left. There were a few candles for light, but they hardly served to warm the room.
There was only one option left to Sam if they both were to survive. But even his level of pragmatism couldn't help but cringe a little at this option. He was hoping that Dean would be asleep or unconscious, and remain so, but God had a better sense of humor than that.
Dean groaned and flinched as Sam lifted the covers from his body, the constant background shivering giving way instantly to genuine teeth-chattering trembling. Assuming Sam was playing doctor again, Dean didn't bother opening his eyes until he felt a great warmth over him, so warm that he could almost stop shivering. He opened his eyes.
"The fuck, Sam?" Again, not What the fuck?, just The fuck?
"Take it easy, Dean: don't freak out."
"Don't freak out?! Dude!" Dean spluttered for a while, before, "Sam, this—this is just wrong! There is nothing right about this!"
"Stop moving, Dean! Damnit, don't be such a thirteen-year-old." Sam enveloped his brother's body in his own as gently and heterosexually as he could manage, pulling the thick blankets back over them both. As soon as he did it he knew it had been the right thing, because Dean's body was so frigid it made him shiver. But that didn't really help the fact that Sam thought this was ten levels of awkward, too.
Dean groaned: "Okay, Sammy, very funny. Get off now. You win, I'll be a fucking st-stellar patient, or—or whatever—"
"Dean, I'm serious!"
"So am I!"
Sam glowered and assumed an academic tone. "Fact: you currently don't have enough blood in your body to keep you from freezing to death!"
Dean glowered back, assuming a juvenile delinquent tone. "Fact: this is really friggen gay!"
Something in Sam snapped, and he either had an epiphany or went off the deep end: "Fact:" he said, "only if our balls touch."
Dean's eyes widened in helpless terror. He whimpered and flinched, turning his head away. Sam grinned manically. "I think I just threw up a little in my mouth," Dean groaned, squeezing his eyes shut. "That is so not funny."
"You gotta admit it was a little funny. Maybe not as funny as this, though, watch."
Part of Dean knew better than to open his eyes, but he did it anyway. As if his life couldn't possibly suck any more than it already did, he discovered that his little brother was currently dangling a gob of spit from his mouth dangerously close to his face.
"Oh, God," Dean groaned. "Dude, don't you dare. I will kill—that is so gross."
Sam was enjoying himself. "You know, I never realized what a kick you got out of doing this to me all the time when we were kids."
"I never did this to you!" Dean protested, beginning to fight a little.
The dangle of saliva lowering dangerously close to Dean's nose, Sam glared at him, asking if he wanted to run that by him again.
"Okay, okay! Maybe once. Or twice."
"Per week, dude," Sam said, sucking the spit back up. "It's payback time."
Dean whimpered, shutting his eyes and turning away.
"The more you struggle, the more it'll hurt," Sam joked.
"God, dude. Again: gay."
But Sam was already lowering the string of spit from his mouth. Down, down it went, until Dean couldn't look at it anymore. He didn't really struggle, but he turned his head away and tried to wish himself deeper into the pillow. Sam didn't have the heart to do it to him, of course, if he could manage it, but he was unpracticed in the art of the spit-string. Dean braved opening his eyes just in time to see Sam suck the string back up away from him at the last second. But he missed. The wad of spit, instead of returning to his mouth, flicked wildly up and slapped Sam in the face.
There was a beat, and then Dean laughed. A genuine, hearty belly-laugh that hurt a little, like he never thought he'd live to laugh again. Sam pouted and wiped his face, wondering if he could appear to have meant to do that, while Dean continued to laugh, and began laughing harder. The laughing began to hurt kind of a lot, but it was worth it. Anything was worth seeing the amateur slap himself in the face with his own wet one. His indignation alone was worth the price of admission. Dean could die happy now.
By the time Sam got over himself enough to laugh along, Dean had discovered that something was fantastically wrong with himself. There wasn't pain, but he felt a distinct pop of something giving out in his shoulder, and then the whole world spun.
Sam was no longer laughing, but had sprung up from laying on top of him, and had lunged for the last wad of surgical gauze to shove against the wound. Dean thought he heard a faint whistling sound in addition to Jack's howlings outside, and it became incredibly difficult to breathe. The spinning universe spiraled into a frenzy as he gulped for air, and then everything went black.
At least Dean had enough sense to remain consistently unconscious after that. Sam could barely get him cognizant enough to drink a few sips of water. As much as Sam had wanted to throttle Dean for being the most difficult invalid ever to hurt himself more than was necessary, he began almost to wish for the usual fight: anything was better than watching his half-frozen, ashen-faced brother struggle just to breathe. Incubating him with his own body heat, however necessary, was itself a danger, for if he pressed too hard he could make the pain worse and breathing more difficult—or cause him to bleed again.
On the fifth day Sam was constrained to eat the last can of food himself, for Dean couldn't keep his eyes open for any length of time. Sam had stored the can in the bed with them, but it was hardly warm and still frozen in places, much less remotely appetizing. He used the last bit of gas in the Bunsen burner to warm a hotplate to place at Dean's feet. Last, he set to destroying most of the wooden furniture to keep a fire going in the hearth, shoving the bed across the room to be by it.
On the sixth day, Sam didn't get out of bed. Dean no longer responded to inquiries about his health, and only the most pitiful pleading from Sam could elicit as much as a groan. All he did was cough when he woke, anyway. Sam wondered if Dean's lips were blue from cold or from lack of air. His leg wound had developed an infection, but no fever accompanied it: the heat would have been welcome, not least because it would have meant that Dean's body was fighting back. The house was by now buried up to the chimney in snow, and the fire went out and could not be relit. Sam began to wonder if they would suffocate. And how would Uncle Bobby—if he even came—rescue them now? This would take an excavation. They didn't have time for that. Dean certainly didn't. Sam eased himself onto Dean's less-injured right side and, since he had nothing better to do, slept.
Sam was so far gone by day seven that he didn't react when he felt strong arms lifting him gently off his brother's body. He flinched a little when he heard what might have been a whimper from Dean, and tried to lift his head as he was rolled over onto his side.
"Whoa, there, easy, kid, I gotcha…"
"D-Dean?" Sam whispered. He wasn't sure at what point he, too, had begun shivering.
"Yeah, I'll look after him. Just you lie still now, hear?"
Sam nodded distantly, and let the voice wrap him in a heated blanket before he drifted to sleep.
He woke with a start a few hours later. The cabin was safe. He wasn't sure why, but he knew it was so, and he laid his head back to the pillow a moment. He was warm—warmer than he could ever have hoped to feel ever again. The sound of a merry fire crackled distantly. The howling of the wind was gone, and gray light filtered in at the windows.
Beside him in the bed lay Dean. The color hadn't yet returned to his cheeks, but he looked more peaceful, in less pain than before. He looked warm, even comfortable—although, Sam guessed, the comfort was drug-induced. Cautiously, Sam heaved himself up on an elbow to move closer to Dean, to feel the slow but solid beat of his pulse and the gentle wind of him breathing. His brow was a little warm, and a thin layer of sweat gleamed on his face. Thank God. He never thought he'd be so glad to see his brother in a fever.
"How ya feelin', kid?"
The voice startled him, but he knew it instantly: "Bobby?" Sam sat up and turned around.
"Who'd ya expect, Mary Poppins? 'Course it's me."
Sam grinned and slumped over, relieved, gathering his lanky frame into a tighter, warmer ball. "Good to see you, Bobby."
"Good ta see you in the land of the living, son. Damned if by the time I got here I'd almost lost both of you." He stood up from the chair he'd been sitting in—the only one left whole by Sam—and went to the bed. After a cursory glance at him, deciding Sam didn't need the medical once-over, he asked, "Hungry?"
"Oh, yes, please!" Sam said, suddenly feeling seven years old and as though Bobby had just offered him a cookie.
"Your brother woke up 'bout an hour ago. Was able to get some liquids in him before—well, come on, princess, I ain't bringin' you breakfast in bed—before he went out again. Shoulder wound worried the lung but I think the worst is over now. Gave him some antibiotics. Should be fine."
Sam dragged the blanket with him to the table—stopping up short to yank the plug from the wall—God bless the man who invented the electric blanket—and hunched over the bowl of soup Bobby set before him. After a few bites, "It's a good thing you came, Bobby. You were our only hope."
"All right, Skywalker," Bobby chuckled, as close to "you're welcome" as he would get. "Good thing I remembered I'd forgotten to give you the key to the safe, otherwise I wouldn't've bothered calling."
"Bobby? How'd you get rid of the—well, Elemental, I guess. We kept calling it Jack Frost—"
"Yeah, that's fine, if you're six," Bobby corrected: "Elemental." He took a deep breath. "I summoned another one—a fire one—they blasted each other out of existence."
Sam frowned, mid-bite. "Isn't that kinda dangerous, Bobby?"
Bobby looked at him coolly. "You think you invented gamblin', boy? Way he had you in here, I didn't have time to dig you out, much less get through the Elemental first. Both you boys were frozen solid and barely breathin' as it was. A gamble, maybe, but they took care of each other. Gone."
Sam didn't want to argue. Not on an empty stomach, anyway. It had worked, and that was good enough for him. After a moment, and a few more bites of soup:
"Dean's not hypothermic, is he?"
"Yeah, he was, a bit. Okay now though, I reckon. Coulda been a lot worse, if you hadn't been so—uh—intimate—"
"Oh, don't you start, Bobby—"
"Hey, it's funny," Bobby defended, chuckling for emphasis. "Don't mean you didn't save your brother's life—and your own, probably, on account of it. Naw, his main problem's blood loss. He was even lucky with the wounds, all things considered. Tell me, did he do somethin' extra-stupid to get this bad, or what?"
Sam considered, for the first time recalling how irritatingly heroic Dean had been to be rewarded with seven icicle-spears in his body. "No, just about normal-stupid for Dean."
"I totally heard that," came a groan from the bed.
"Dean!" Sam leapt up from the table, abandoning his blanket to rush to his brother's side. He barely refrained from pouncing on the bed in case the movement caused Dean pain, but he eased himself next to him, anyway. "Hey, Dean," he said gently. "How you feeling?"
"Loopy." Dean smiled the distant smile of the heavily drugged. "Loopily fantabulous…" Then his eyes closed and he frowned suddenly, a whimper escaping his lips. "Sammy, you were so warm, why did you leave me?"
Sam blanched. God, what kind of pain did Dean have to be in to beg for something like that? "Shit. I-I'm sorry, Dean. Are you still cold? Do you want me to—" but before he could finish, Dean broke into sophomoric laughter, and Sam realized he'd been had. He pouted—he hated it when Dean made him look stupid for showing fucking compassion—while Dean continued laughing. The laughing continued much longer than was really necessary before it petered out into soft coughing.
"Are you done?"
"…What was I laughing about, again?" Dean wheezed distantly, and stopped a moment, looking confused, before he brightened. "Oh, yeah: my brother's a homo! Hur hur hur." Dean chuckled again, punctuated with more coughs. They didn't sound too dangerous, so Sam was only indignant.
"Dude. How much morphine are you on, exactly?"
Dean sobered immediately. "Enough that I'll let you spoon-feed me. I'm friggen starving."
Bobby shook his head. "Idjits," he said, and ladled out another bowl of soup.