Title: The Art of Sharing
Author: Alex Graves/frayed1989
Spoilers: General Season 5.
Word Count: 4,225
Notes/Prompt(s): Written for strangeandcharm in participation of deancastiel's Secret Angels III fan fic exchange.
Summary: Dean gets sick and Sam doesn't want to share him with anyone else.
The first sneeze surprised both of them as it rocketed through Dean, jerking him in his seat as his head snapped forward, the debris smattering the steering wheel and dashboard. Dean wiped his nose on his sleeve, using his shirt to wipe down what he could of the wheel and dashboard as he sniffled and shook his head, frowning.
"Bless you," Sam said after a moment of silence, watching his brother closely. Dean's eyes watered and his nose twitched with the promise of another sneeze and he reflexively felt for a tissue box in the back seat only to feel none and touch a starched, clothed knee instead. He jerked his hand back, giving out a small grunt as he looked to the back seat where Castiel sat patiently, silently, as if he hadn't just appeared in the space. Dean looked at Sam for a moment, his eyes watering as he sniffled once more, grunted, and started up the car. "Dude, you okay?"
"Yeah, Sammy. Just fine," he said, wiping the nose with the back of his hand and grimacing when he felt the wetness there. He wiped the residue on his jeans and his frowned deepened as his nose twitched once more.
"You're body temperature is quiet high Dean. It is not normal," Castiel stated from the back and Sam turned to see the angel facing the window, watching the passing scenery only to stare at Dean's back from the corner of his eye.
"You can tell what our body temperatures are?" Sam asked, intrigued. Castiel shook his head and turned his body towards the younger Winchester, his chin lifting as he looked at Sam.
"Not precisely no. But I can tell when it's too low or too high. Especially you two as I've acclimated to your body temperatures and have been keeping my vessel's at a similar one." Sam nodded, noting Dean who rolled his eyes and reached for the stereo, pushing the tape in and twisting the volume knob to increase the sound, a tell tale sign of it being time to shut up. Sam pressed the ejection button on reached over, pressing his forefingers to the back of Dean's neck which flared hotly underneath his touch as Dean jerked and slapped Sam's hand away.
"What the fuck, man? I said I was okay!" Another sneeze jerked Dean in his seat and he groaned, shaking his head and turning his attention back to the road.
"Doesn't seem like it Dean. You're pale, your cheeks are flushed, you're sneezing pretty badly and I'm pretty sure you have a fever."
"Yeah, well I feel fine. I just got dust up my nose or something." Sam frowned and shook his head.
"If you're getting sick, it's better that we deal with it now rather than wait for it to fully kick in and bench you." Dean shook his head and rubbed at his eyes, trying to focus his somewhat blurry vision on the road.
"Drop it Sam. It's nothing. I'm fine." Sam stared silently at this brother for a moment, frowning before slumping back into his seat, crossing his arms over his chest.
By the time the Winchester brothers reached the next motel, Castiel had disappeared again and Dean was sneezing regularly. So much in fact, that the boys had been forced to stop at a gas station simply for tissues. It had also forced Dean to the passenger seat and Sam to driving. Dean pushed the door open and made his way over to the farthest bed, dropping his duffle and immediately lying down on the bed, shoving his face into the pillow and inhaling deeply, only to sputter and cough when he found he couldn't really breathe from his nose. He groaned and rolled over onto his back, flinging an arm over eyes and taking a deep breath through cracked lips.
Sam frowned and rolled his eyes, dropping his own duffle onto the table with a loud crack as he looked at Dean, his hands on his hips and his lips pursed as his brows furrowed with frustration. "Will you please just take some of the cold medicine I got you, already?"
Dean coughed as he sat up, a smirk on his lips as he turned his watery eyes to his brother. "Well, since you asked so nicely," he began, pausing as he sneezed and frowned. "No. I'm okay. It'll pass." He closed his eyes and rubbed at the bridge of his nose as he inhaled, sucking the mucus that had begun to clog his nose back up. "Now why don't you make yourself useful and grab us some food. I'm going to take a much needed nap."
Sam closed his eyes and gritted his teeth, pulling the box of cold medicine out of his jacket pocket and slapping it down onto the nightstand between the two beds before turning around and readjusting his jacket, grabbing the impala's keys off the table. As he left, he heard Dean call out behind him "and no frou frou shit like salads!" He sincerely hoped Dean was right and that whatever he had would pass quickly because as Sam saw it, Dean was an even bigger jerk than usual when he was sick.
Dean had the gun cocked, aimed, and ready to fire before Castiel even got a breath out. The angel merely stared at him, cocking his head to the side as Dean gasped for air, a hacking cough interrupting him and making him drop his gun to the bed, one hand clutching his chest as the over covered his mouth while he doubled over. He groaned loudly, flopping back onto the pillows after placing the gun on the nightstand, his eyes closed and his lips pulled in a grimace. "I thought we discussed using the door, Cas."
"We did," the angel agreed, crossing the room to pull back the curtains slightly and look outside. "But I thought it would not be prudent to- how should I say it? Appear out of thin air in the walkway." Castiel let the curtain fall shut and turned back to Dean who raised an eyebrow in thought and nodded in agreement.
"Still, we should get you a bell or something, that way I know it's you and I don't accidently blow your head off," Dean replied.
"A gunshot wound would not kill me," Castiel stated matter-of-factly. "I would heal. And you seem to have become accustomed to me." Dean watched as the angel moved about the room, his eyes tracing over the walls and furniture as his fingers slid against the grain of wood on the entertainment center.
"What do you mean accustomed? Like how you match me and Sammy's body temperatures?" Castiel shook his head and settled his blue eyes on Dean.
"No. You feel me even before I fully enter this plane of existence. The moment I begin to move through space towards you, you can feel it. Like a tickle at the back of your mind. Not even you really notice it. It's why you did not blow off my head earlier as you said." Dean frowned and looked down at the bedspread, not wanting to meet the angel's gaze. He didn't like the idea of knowing Castiel that well. That tickle in the back of his head was reserved for Sam, and Sam only. The thought of Castiel being there as well scared him. It never did well to get attached to people. Being attached to an angel only seemed worse. "It scares me too."
Dean's head snapped up at that and again his gaze was drawn to the angel. "You shouldn't feel me like that. I should be able to move through space without you noticing it, let alone feeling it. The fact that you can means something. I'm not sure what." Dean sighed and swung his legs over the bed, his bare feet touching rough carpet.
"Well," he began, rubbing his toes into the carpet, "I guess I won't have to get you that bell after all."
"You sure you don't want the medicine?" Dean frowned and dropped his burger onto the wrapper for the third time since he opened it ten minutes ago.
"Yes Sam. I'm sure. Now drop it." He picked up a napkin and wiped at his fingers, grabbing the soda in front of him, taking a long pull from the straw. He eyed his burger and frowned, the darkened meat, melted cheese, bacon, and fried onion straws unappealing and perhaps even disgusting, given the amount of grease that oozed from a pocket he had bit into a few moments ago. The taste still lingered on his tongue, tainted with the taste of mucus that seemed to converge at the back of his throat. He stared at the burger for a few more moments, debating picking it back up again or just leaving it be. He opted for leaving it be when another bubble of grease popped and spilled from the burger.
Sam watched in fascination as Dean wrapped the remainder of the relatively uneaten burger in its wrapper and tossed it back into the bag, along with the fries and slice of pie he had gotten along with it for Dean. "Dean." His older brother took up his soda, taking small little sips before placing the cup down, staring at him, his eyes challenging. "Just take the damn medicine, okay?" Sam pulled out the package, sliding across the table. Dean slid it right back to him.
"No. I don't need it. I don't want it."
"You don't want your food either. I got you pie, Dean. Freaking pie. You never give up pie." Dean sighed and pushed back from the table, standing up and making his way over to the bed.
"Did you ever think that maybe I'm just not hungry?" he said, falling back onto the bed, his arms outstretched and his gaze fixed on the ceiling.
"Dean, you not being hungry is like Bobby calling us 'sweetie pie'. " Dean frowned and turned away from Sam on the bed, closing his eyes and gripping his pillow. "You're sick Dean. Just take the medicine, okay? Just do it for me." Dean sighed and sat up on the bed, looking at his brother's face and nodding, holding out his hand. Sam placed two green pills in his palm and handed him his soda. Dean swallowed both without difficulty, putting the cup down on the nightstand and crawling under the covers once again, wishing that the pounding in his head and the stuffiness in his nose would just go away.
He hated being sick. He absolutely hated it. He hated feeling weak, hated the idea of having to rely on anybody else for his needs and he absolutely hated the fact that a simple cold could knock him out so easily.
He shifted, huddled underneath the covers, shivering from an imaginary cold that only affected him while Sam walked about in shorts, flip flops and a t-shirt, the most casual Dean had seen his brother in some time. And if he wasn't freezing, he was burning up, sweat covering his skin as he kicked off sheets and pulled at his clothes in a frustrated haste to get cool. He spent most of his time in and out of sleep, sipping on cups of lukewarm water and dreaming of his time spent on and off the rack. And if that wasn't bad enough, it certainly didn't help having Sam baby him. Dean, while he did appreciate it, hated it.
He groaned, his back, legs, arms, and head aching as he turned under the covers, a heat wave spreading from his stomach out through his limbs as he pushed at the covers in an attempt to get cool. Sam was instantly at his side, tucking him back under the sheets as Dean writhed and wriggled, trying to push Sam's giant hands away.
"Shove it, Sam! I'm burning up here!" he gasped but Sam shook his head, frowning.
"We're gonna try and sweat the fever out. I know it's uncomfortable but you've gotta deal."
"We!" Dean yelled hoarsely as he stared up at Sam. "There is no we in this! There's just me! You're not the one getting heat flashes one moment and then cold flashes the next!" Sam bit his lip and shook his head as he pulled away, watching as Dean kicked away the covers and pushed them in a clump at the foot of the bed.
"You should listen to your brother, Dean." Dean groaned loudly and turned his attention to Castiel who had appeared at his bedside. "We have much to do still."
"Yeah, I get that Cas and trust me when I say that if it were up to me, I'd be up and fighting right now but Sasquatch here is making that a bit impossible." Sam rolled his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest, glaring down at his older brother.
"I'm not the one keeping you in bed, Dean. That would be your cold." Dean scoffed and reached for the covers, a new bout of shivers traveling up his spine and spreading goose bumps over his skin. "If you had just listened to me and taken that medicine when I first told you to, you'd probably be fine by now. But no, you had to tough it out. Had to do it your own damn way." Dean hugged the blankets to his body as he propped himself up on the bed, closing his eyes and huffing out a breath.
"It's never failed me before."
"It's always failed you Dean! You're always putting yourself in stupid situations that you never had to be in in the first place!" Dean scoffed and gave Sam a pointed look before turning his attention back to Castiel. The angel loomed over him; reaching out and touching two wonderfully cool fingers to his forehead. Dean sighed, relaxing back into his pillows as his eyelids fell shut.
Castiel frowned, watching as the eldest Winchester fell asleep before turning to Sam. "He's in a dreamless sleep." Sam frowned as he looked down at his brother.
"I can see that. Why?" The angel shrugged his shoulders and turned his hardened gaze back to Dean.
"He still dreams about hell."
"What- How?" Sam sputtered, staring at the angel who once again shrugged before making his way around the bed and toward the door.
"Make sure he gets better. We'll need him well if we have any hope of winning this war."
"Wait, Castiel! How did you know that Dean still dreams about hell?" Sam called out, following him to the door but the angel was already gone by the time he reached it.
The walls were screaming his name when he woke up again, covered in sweat, tears, and a runny nose that refused to stop. He gasped, clutching at his chest as pain spiked in his lungs and traveled up his throat to his heavy tongue. He looked around wild eyed, finding his brother fast asleep in the bed next to him, a fresh glass of water on the nightstand, and two familiar green pills that never seemed to help. Still, after the ringing in his ears left and he could take a deep steady breath into his lungs, he grabbed the pills and swallowed them, downing half the glass of water in the process.
He sighed, wiping his face with his hand and grimacing at the sweat and mucus that came off on his hand. He grabbed a tissue, cleaning his hand and frowning. He couldn't remember much of his dream, only that the screaming had been horrifying, intense, and painful and Dean was surprised that he himself hadn't woken up screaming. But he supposed in this case it was better this way. Sam didn't need to know.
He lied back in bed and frowned at the feel of it, wet with sweat and smelling with the stench of his unwashed body. The sooner he was done with this cold, the better. He pushed himself up on shaky arms and stood on even shakier legs before making his way slowly to the bathroom, balancing himself on walls and tables.
He pushed the door open and closed it slowly, careful to not wake up Sam before turning to the sink and splashing his face with cool water. He looked at his reflection in the dirty mirror, taking in the greasy wet hair that plastered his forehead, the blood shot watery eyes, the red irritated skin of his nose, the cracked lips, the stubble which covered his chin, and the lines in his face which looked deeper than before. He gripped the sink and bowed his head, taking a deep breath before sinking to the floor, pressing his cheek to the cool tile, his eyes shut tight as his head pounded and ached. The walls were screaming his name once again.
Sam found Dean passed out in Castiel's arms in the bathroom when he woke up. He had walked into the bathroom, expecting his brother to be hovering over the toilet or perhaps asleep on the floor but he hadn't expected what he had seen. The angel had been propped up in the corner; Dean curled up in between his legs, his head resting against the angel's chest, wrapped up in the all-familiar tan trench coat. "Castiel?" The angel lifted his head, opened his eyes, and fixed his blue gaze on Sam.
"He was screaming." Sam frowned and quickly crossed the threshold, bending down to reach out and touch his brother but Castiel pulled Dean closer to him and shifted the coat, making sure it was wrapped tightly around him. "I could hear him, even when I was more than a thousand miles away. I could hear him screaming."
"But I didn't hear a thing," Sam replied, his frown deepening as he looked down at his brother, who looked so young, so small.
"No, you wouldn't have." Sam's head snapped up and his brows pulled together in confusion and hurt. "He wasn't actively screaming, Sam." Sam nodded, though he was still confused and reached out to take his brother once more.
"Let me get him back to the bed. I've changed the sheets. He'll be more comfortable there than on the floor." Castiel nodded and soon Sam was scooping Dean up into his arms as Dean had done for him so many times, so many years ago.
Sam noticed the angel's presence even more. Castiel was constantly popping in and out, checking in on Dean, making sure he was getting better, which thankfully he slowly but steadily was. Still Sam found the angel's presence unnerving, and strange. Castiel didn't talk much and his expression didn't change much beyond blank, and curiosity when he didn't understand something either he or Dean said. And half the time, the angel kept Dean in a state of dreamless sleep and while Sam did appreciate it, he missed his brother, missed his snark, his bitching, even his disgusting eating habits.
Still he noticed that when Castiel thought he wasn't being watched, he expression softened into something fond, loving, and almost human, his blue eyes no longer cold but warm, a small smile at the corners of his lips. And Sam couldn't help but wonder if perhaps the angel felt more for his brother than he let on.
He sighed and watched as Dean reached out for Castiel's hand, dragging Castiel's fingers to his forehead and pressing against them, a sign which meant 'more dreamless sleep please'. Castiel complied, nodding and soon Dean was asleep once more, relaxed but motionless. Sam really did appreciate what the angel did for them. He just wished he himself could do more.
"I'm starving. Please tell me you brought back some actual food this time." Sam frowned and deposited the bag of fried, greasy food on the table, grimacing when Dean pulled out his burger, unwrapped half of it and took a giant bite out of it. He moaned in appreciation, grinning over a full mouth as he leaned back in his chair, looking the absolute picture of bliss. "Oh how I have missed this," he beamed, taking a swig of his newly acquired beer and then another bite of his burger.
"You sure you should be eating that? I mean you just got better," Sam frowned, watching his brother devour the burger quickly as he began to tuck into salad.
"Exactly. Got the angel clean bill of health. Meaning I am perfectly able to be eating this awesomely delicious meal of meat," Dean stated, patting his stomach. "You got two of these, right?" he asked, already digging into the bag for the second burger that Sam had bought for him like the good younger brother he was.
Sam sighed and shook his head but smiled, happy to see his brother back to his normal self. He ate his salad quietly, watching his brother continue to devour the second burger, fries, and slice of pie in the bag, all the while making happy sounds that would have sounded down right dirty to anyone who didn't know Dean and his love of processed foods.
"So Castiel came by while I was gone?" Sam asked. Dean nodded, wiping his mouth with a napkin and patting his full stomach happily as he leaned back in his chair, beer in hand.
"Yeah. Came to check up on me. I swear, dude's almost as bad as you." Sam's eyebrows shot up at that but he stayed silent, taking another bite of his salad as Dean watched him with curious eyes. "You don't like him that much, do you?" Sam sputtered, shaking his head as he stared at the table, not meeting his brother's eyes.
"I like Castiel just fine. He's a good guy and he helped out a lot while you were sick."
"Ah, you don't like that he took care of me," Dean stated with a smirk, taking a swing of his beer and staring down Sam with knowing eyes.
"Dean," Sam frowned and Dean laughed, putting his beer down and leaning forward on the table.
"It's cool man. I'm not exactly thrilled that he took care of me either. I mean, I appreciate it, a lot. But I don't like it when anyone takes care of me."
"Yeah, that's pretty obvious," Sam scoffed, leaning back in his own seat, his arms crossed. Dean rolled his eyes and met Sam's gaze head on.
"What I mean is, I get it, okay. When we were younger and you got sick, I wouldn't let anyone near you, not even Dad. And let me tell you, that used to get me into a lot of trouble. But you were mine, you know. I took care of you. No one else did because to me, they didn't have that right." Sam frowned and straightened in his chair as Dean covered his face and shook his head. "I can't believe I'm telling you this."
"Neither am I. This is a pretty chick flick moment for you, isn't it."
"Oi. Shut it, bitch."
"Jerk." Both smiled, giving small chuckles as Dean leaned back in his chair, looking up at the ceiling.
"Don't get too mad at Cas, Sam. I've got the feeling he feels the same way you do." Sam frowned and eyed Dean carefully, noting the fond smile, the far away look in his eyes.
"But you're my brother- not his." Dean laughed and looked back at Sam who frowned, his brows pulled together in confusion.
"I thought you were smart." Dean laughed again at the look he got from Sam but shook his head and turned his attention back to the ceiling. "You gotta remember Sam. He pulled me out of hell. He turned his back on heaven for me. He freaking died for me. He probably feels he's got as much of a right to me as you do."
"And that doesn't freak you out?" Sam asked, noticing that his brother still was staring off, as if seeing something that Sam could never see.
"Of course it fucking does. But I can't let it get to me. There's a war going on. A pretty damn big one and I honestly don't know if anyone of us are gonna make it out alive." Dean turned his attention back to Sam and shrugged. "Castiel's done a lot for me and I've gotta pay him back any way I can before this ends and he's gone or I'm gone. And if part of doing that is letting the guy take care of me while I'm sick. Well then, I'm not exactly going to put up much of a fight." Sam sighed, nodding as he reached for his own beer, taking a swig.
"I guess the dreamless sleep helps," Sam said, staring down the neck of the bottle. Dean laughed and took another sip of his own.
"It sure does, Sammy. It sure does."
Dean never said it and Sam never had to hear it but he knew Dean didn't tell him the whole truth on how he felt about the angel. There was more there, something hidden behind his eyes and his smile when Castiel was around or brought up. And the way Sam saw it; Castiel had done a lot for Dean and would continue doing so. And if it meant Sam got to keep Dean sane, safe, and alive for that much longer, he was more than okay with sharing him.