Okay, in addition to my usual disclaimer: I do not own Gatorade. I do not own Kleenex. I do not own Walgreens. I do not own AC/DC, nor do I own Tylenol. Spellcheck says it's 'eying' not 'eyeing', but it looks wrong to me. . *ponders* Think that's all of it.
Dean knows the signs, can almost pinpoint the moment in the future when Sam will realize what Dean has known for days.
Day one starts with Sam fidgeting, twitching like his skin is too tight. Twitching massive shoulders, kicking off huge boots, just to put them back on minutes later. Window down, window up. Vent turned towards him, vent turned away from him. Dean grits his teeth, biting back snarky comments, but starts to turn further north, towards some murmurs of activity. They've got another 2 days to find someplace to hole up, 2 days until it all strikes. When they stop to top off the Impala, Dean grabs some Tylenol from the gas station. They're gonna need it.
Day two is more pronounced, even if Sam still is clueless. Dean intentionally throws his jacket in the back seat before climbing in, knowing it won't be much longer before it's up front. AC/DC pumps a bit quieter from the stereo than usual, in respect of the little brother that's curled up on himself. An hour into the drive, Sam jerks awake, stuffing the jacket that was casually tossed onto his lap to cushion his head from the frame of the Impala as she snarls down the road. A soft thanks is a bit hoarser than normal, and Dean frowns. That's usually not until day three.
Day three dawns foggy and clouded, and this has progressed quicker than Dean expected. They would have to hole up tonight, no questions. He flicks a worried gaze over his brother, who's pressed against the glass, breath fogging the cold window as they cross state borders. Snow is falling, but that just encourages Sammy to wiggle closer, whimpering softly in his sleep. Dean stops as they fill up again, shrugging on a heavy jacket, and cracking Sam's window while he's taking a leak. The cold air hissing in the small space is quiet enough Sam doesn't notice, but enough that he stops trying to press his entire frame against the tiny spot of glass.
And when Dean pulls through a town just big enough for a Walgreens, he shakes his head as he parks the Impala. The absence of a snarl isn't enough to waken the younger Winchester, and that confirms it. He checks over Sam one last time before securing the car, making the trip through isles quickly, almost absently in the routine. Salt, Gatorade, ramen noodles, water, several boxes of tissues, more Tylenol, since they use the stuff like water, and some decongestants are the staples. He peers out the window; Sam is still out like a light, and Dean, reassured, continues. He throws some pens in the basket, they're running low again, and a few odds and ends to restock the med kit. As he's checking out, a casual question yields answers, and then it's just one more stop before they can settle in.
The perky young cashier at the feed store doesn't even blink twice at the penicillin and the syringes, not after one look at the worn jeans, bowlegged swagger, and thick leather jacket. He's just one of several other farmers, and with a snap of her gum, she admires the view as he struts like one of the roosters he no doubt cares for.
Dean frowns as Sam murmurs quietly, rubbing his cheek against the glass with a soft squeak as they rumble into the next town, where he was assured there was quiet little motel that, while being cheap, was actually really clean. A curve in the road, and he almost slams on the brakes....the cashier wasn't kidding about it sneaking up. Tucked into a circle of pine trees, it looks new and fresh, and that's all he cares about.
He leaves Sam in the car as he checks in, asking with a wink and a friendly smile for the one furthest down, if possible, and the young woman obliges, handing the card back over the counter with a set of keys, and information that the owners have the first room, any problems and just knock. It's good to know, and he starts up the Impala to park her against the last door. He always idly wonders why they don't back in, less distance to travel with the bags, less likely for anyone to see the trunk, and quicker getaway if needed. But breaking a habit is hard, and he opens the room, giving it a through once-over before fetching his brother.
Sam glances around, confused but not surprised to be stopping already. His jacket and button up are discarded on the seat of the Impala, and he doesn't seem to notice the almost frigid drizzle that glazes the windows and makes everything a bit gloomy. His joints ache, worse than normal, and even though he's dozed all afternoon, the sight of a thick comforter over the pillow top mattress is enough to make him groan in anticipation.
Bags are placed, med kit put out front and center, salt laid thinly but solidly. Better safe than sorry, and Dean throws Sammy in for a shower while he unpacks. The office had a rec center that had a washer and dryer, and once he convinces Sam to get some sleep, he'll look into getting them clean clothes again. The water hisses off, and it's not long before Sam stumbles out, trying to appear alert and awake. Dean chuckles wryly at him, convinces him that they'll hit the road in the morning, just get some sleep. Sam doesn't argue, just sinks into cold sheets with a moan of appreciation, and within minutes he's sleeping, not dozing. Dean waits about fifteen minutes, making sure his sibling is actually asleep, before running a hand softly over the features, smirking to himself as he confirms the fever he's been suspecting for the last two days. He cranks the air conditioning, scribbles a note he doubts Sam will be awake to read, and looks into getting laundry done.
He comes back to Sam sprawled on top of the blankets, stretched to let the cold air hit every part of him available. Dean cracks open a beer, places an order for pizza, and waits. About 2 hours left until he'll be needed.
The pizza is gone, beer enjoyed, and the two busty Asians are just getting it on when Sam groans, low and harsh, sending an emerald gaze over him. The giant of a brother is curling in on himself, whimpering in the quiet, and Dean helps work him under the blankets, shutting off the flow of freezing air, and settles in on the bed beside Sam. The fever brings nightmares, and he spends the better part of the evening soothing quietly, running a hand through the tousled chocolate hair, rubbing circles along his back, trying to bring what relief he can. Shortly after midnight, Sam falls into exhaustion, and quiets for the night, and Dean knows to take his sleep now, before the second wave hits.
It's a little after seven when Dean feels the bed shift, and he's awake instantly, alert for any reason for concern. Sam is sitting on the edge of the bed, swaying lightly as he cups his head in his hands.
"You okay there Sammy?" He knows the answer, but asks, as always.
Sam takes a breath, one that's rough and harsh, and lets it out, shaking his head. "Don't feel so good." He shivers, not seeming to notice, and Dean takes his cue. Fishes out the thermometer, casually cupping his hand along Sam's jaw, taking in the heat and the rapid fluttering pulse as they wait for the confirmation.
"You cold?" Sam shakes his head. "Only 101. Let's get some water in you, and we'll check it later, okay? I don't really want to try to break it unless it gets much higher." Sam nods miserably, tries to drink the proffered water, but just can't bring himself to. He feels like the room is spinning, and doesn't offer much argument when Dean pushes him back down into the bed, covering him with only the sheet. "If you're warm, that means it's holding fairly steady. Let me know if you get cold, okay?" Hazel eyes have a hard time following, the glassiness belying the desire for sleep, and Dean settles in beside his brother again, smiling softly as Sam rolls over, curling against his hip and wrapping an arm around Dean's waist. He's always been a snuggler when he's not feeling well, but the contact reassures him, and he tends to sleep deeper, giving his body the rest it needs.
Sam fights all day, and during a bout of lucid awareness, admits that he can't really breathe, too congested. Dean gets him to accept some decongestants, supplementing it with Gatorade, and Sam manages to sip half the bottle before he succumbs to the sleep pulling at him again. Dean knows the next 24 hours will be the worst, and then Sam will perk up considerably.
It becomes a game of clock-watching, waking the Sasquatch every four hours to get him to accept the little red pills and some more of the sweet drink, and helping him stay vertical as he coughs and hacks, spitting mucus into the Kleenex that grow by the minute. It doesn't ease up after the dark falls, the medication starting to fall on a desperately empty stomach, and Dean struggles as Sam refuses to allow himself the relief of vomiting. His teeth clench, throat swallowing convulsively, breathes deep and steady, fighting his body as it rejects the offering of artificial help. It's about an hour later that Sam's massive shoulders relax, and Dean resumes the soothing circles he's been doing since they arrived. The touch helps coax Sam into a sleep for another hour or so, until they get to do it again.
Dawn breaks on day five, and Sam is struggling out of the bed, long legs quivering like a new colt's, as he shivers in the cool air. Dean helps guide him to the shower, letting him wash away the grime and sweat of the last 48 hours, and while the water offers some relief, he strips the bed, piling the linens in a corner before remaking the fluffy refuge. Sam emerges more alert and awake, and settles in the chair instead of the bed. His stomach growls, and Dean raises a brow, chuckling. "Hungry?"
"Starving." He had barely picked at his dinner the night before he started all this, and his body is most displeased by this. Dean sets a fresh cold Gatorade in front of him, brushing a hand through the messy damp hair.
"Let's take your temp, see how you're doing. If you can keep half that down, we'll talk about food." The thermometer beeps at 99.9, and Dean nods, reassured. Sam manages a quarter of the bottle before he's pushing it away, eying the bed longingly. "Come on tiger, let's get you back in there." Sam argues, not sleepy, just tired, but Dean finds a history show that manages to keep him suitably distracted, and by the end of the show, he's finished the bottle, but is yawning too largely to be interested in food. He doesn't argue as Dean tugs him down for a nap, one they can both use.
It's dark out by the time Dean awakens, Sam still snoring softly beside him. A glance at the alarm clock reveals it's early on day six, and a hand to Sam's forehead reveals the fever is gone. He murmurs, burying his face into the cold pillow, and Dean chuckles, burrowing back down to sleep some more.
By dawn Sam is drinking full bottles, and true to his word, an hour after the first one is down, and hasn't made a reappearance, Dean cooks some ramen, the broth and noodles soothing to Sam's displeased stomach. He barely finishes the bowl, but he's feeling better, if not still weak. He fusses at Dean when the elder props him up against a mountain of pillows, but smiles at the laptop, feeling useful once again. Scrolling through headlines and obits, he thinks he finds something. No response to his hoarse murmurs though, and he glances around for his brother.
Dean is passed out, stubble more noticeable now than when this all started, and Sam tries to sort through hazy fever-fogged memories, trying to remember. He's sure at some point Dean has showered, he's not ripe enough to have not, and the empty laundry bag attests that at some point, Dean had left him alone. But all his memories are underlined with a calloused hand petting and soothing, the soft baritone murmuring.
Sam pulls the comforter up and over his brother, flicking off the television as Dean relaxes into the warmth with a soft sigh. It's a minute or so before he rolls over, pressing his back against Sam's leg, clutching his pillow close as he burrows his face against it. Sam can't resist the quiet siren call of sleep, and reluctantly sets the computer onto standby as he yawns.
Even he knows, day seven will have them both back on the road, ready to rock.