A/N Sorry this has taken so long to post. Life got crazy and school kept me busier than I had thought it would.

-7-

As gently as he could, Dean got Sam onto the bed, flat on his back. He held a hand to Sam's' sweaty brow, frowning at his too warm skin. Anger at Sam started to rise again, and Dean stamped it down. There would be time for that later. For now, he needed to take care of his brother. He never once considered having Cas use his angel mojo. It was too easy, he couldn't depend on Cas all the time, and some part of him craved the contact that caring for Sam the hard way would bring.

He couldn't reconcile the face he was staring at with the one he had last seen at Stull. This face was gaunt, even without the look of illness, bearded where that face had been smooth. This face looked hard in a way that was familiar, but that Dean couldn't quite pin down. After a few minutes, the answer hit Dean. Sam looked like their father used to. Grim, hard determination, even while unconscious.

Dean would bet that Sam had even started grinding his teeth in his sleep, just like the father he had fought with so often. Shaking his head to clear it, Dean got up and started unlacing Sam's boots, pulling them off. He was in the process of removing his socks when the door opened, and in came Bobby and Cas, each of them carrying bags of ice. Dean mentally berated himself for not realizing that they had gone.

"Don't beat yourself up, kid. You got other things on yer mind." Bobby said simply. Dean nodded.

"I'll get his arm patched up best I can, then we'll get him in the tub. That fever needs to come down. Go get the tub ready." At the look on Dean's face, he added, "I'll wait until you get back before I do anything."

Dean slid off the bed, allowing Bobby to take his place for the moment, and went into the bathroom, flicking on the light. He snorted when he caught sight of the tub. There was no way that Sam was going to fit comfortably in that thing, but they'd have to make do. Dean made quick work of the ice bath, and then went back into the other room, where Bobby was waiting. He took a place on the other side of the bed. Under Dean's watchful eyes, Bobby slowly peeled the bandage back from Sam's arm, wrinkling his nose at the putrid smell that came from the wound. Sam didn't smell so pretty either, but that was a helluva lot better than this.

Dean hissed through his teeth when he saw the marks. It looked as if he had tried to cauterize them, but they were still red and inflamed, with pus seeping from around the edges of the scabs. Red streaks extended up from the site almost to his elbow.

"Shit Bobby, we need to take him to a hospital!" Dean blurted.

"And tell them what exactly? That yer brother got himself bit by a supernatural beastie? Get yer head straight! It looks bad, but we can handle this. As long as we don't stand here twiddling our thumbs!"

Dean took a deep breath and nodded.

"You're right, Bobby."

He snapped his head up and looked at Cas, only to find the angel staring back at him, wearing one of those damn placid expressions that he hated so much. Sighing, he tossed the keys to the Impala at him. Cas deftly caught them, then cocked his head slightly. Damn if Dean didn't hate that look too.

"Need you to get the first aid kit out of the trunk, and my duffle too. Please?"

Dean hated the pleading sound his voice carried at that last word.

"As you wish, Dean."

Dean caught a glimpse of a smirk on Cas' face and chuckled, feeling the tension in his body lessen a bit.

"Never should have let him watch that," Dean remarked.

A slap to the back of the head abruptly brought his attention back to Bobby.

"If yer done, lover boy," Bobby said, voice oozing with sarcasm, "Maybe you can help me with this."

"Hey! Who're you calling –"

"Shuddup and hold your brother down."

Dean blushed a little, but still snapped out a "Yes, sir."

Bobby sighed and shook his head. "Damn idjit."

Dean smiled grimly, then took his position once more by the bed. Cas came back in, closing the door behind him and setting the first aid kit on the table, dropping the duffle by the bed, and then tossing the keys back to Dean. Dean caught them smoothing, slid them into his pocket, and by reflex caught the next thing that Cas tossed at him. He looked at them in confusion, then glanced up at Cas.

"Handcuffs?"

Cas met Dean's grim stare with one of his own.

"You may need those. This will not be pleasant for Sam."

Dean paled, swallowed the lump in his throat, and took a breath, bending over to first snap one cuff around Sam's uninjured wrist and the other around the bedpost. He paused, whispering an apology in Sam's ear, then took his belt off, sliding it between Sam's lips and teeth, using it as a makeshift gag. Bobby nodded in approval, then looked at Cas.

"Hold his legs?"

Cas hesitated for only a second, and then wrapped his hands around Sam's ankle, pressing them firmly against the bed. Bobby turned to the table and opened the duffel bag, rummaging around for a second before pulling a knife and a bottle of holy water out and bringing them to the bed with him. Unscrewing the cap on the holy water, he first poured some over the blade of the knife, then onto Sam's arm, murmuring a blessing. The holy water bubbled and foamed up on the wound like peroxide, and Sam let out a small groan.

Bobby stopped for a second, waiting to see if Sam would wake. He didn't, and Bobby let out a breath he had no idea he had been holding. He awkwardly patted Sam's leg, muttered, "I'm sorry, boy," and drew the knife over the scabs, slicing them open. At that, Sam's eyes flew open and his body bucked upwards against the hands holding him down. His eyes rolled around in their sockets, like a horse that had caught wind of something it didn't like. He tried to yank his left arm up to lash out at them, but Dean forced it back down.

Sam bellowed, the sound muffled by the makeshift gag. He tried to use his tongue to push the gag out, but it wouldn't budge. Bobby methodically sliced each scab open, and then set to the task of cleaning them out. First clearing what pus he could, then squeezing until a sickly green fluid that must have been venom came trickling out, then rinsing them out with holy water.

Sam continued to thrash, his agonized howls rising until the gag barely muffled them, and until he finally passed out from the pain. They all let out a sigh of relief when Sam finally passed out, and chose to ignore the tears that had started dripping down Dean's face at some point. Bobby kept up the process, until the holy water no longer bubbled and only blood oozed out.

Standing up straight and stretching with a groan, Bobby went to the first aid kit, pulling out gauze, antibiotic cream, and tape, then moving back to the bed. He efficiently got Sam's arm bandaged and taped, then wiped his forehead on his sleeve.

"Let's get him into the tub. Feels like the fever might be down, but it ain't gonna hurt to get him in there anyway."

Bobby and Cas busied themselves getting the tub ready, and Dean tried not to think of the pain Sam had endured. He stripped Sam down to his boxers, inwardly wincing at the sight of new scars, some old, and some barely healed. Once the tub was ready, Dean and Cas got Sam into the bathroom and slowly lowered him into the icy water, making sure to leave his one arm out. At the first touch of the water, Sam moaned but blessedly did not regain consciousness.

Bobby offered to stay in there, but Dean tiredly waved him away. Both of them left under the pretense of getting food and more supplies, leaving Dean alone. Unwilling to stray far from Sam, he settle down on the floor next to the tub, resting his head on his knees. It couldn't have been more than ten minutes later when Sam started to whimper softly. Dean's head snapped up and his gaze automatically locked on his brother. Sam was shivering, his fever flushed skin now pale.

Dean reached over and placed his head on Sam's forehead. It felt like the fever had gone down enough to pull him out of the tub. Dean pulled his hand back, only to stop when Sam made another noise, this one more of a guttural whine. Dean put his hand back where it had been, brushing Sam's hair back and remembering all the times that he had made this same gesture when Sam was a kid. The words came out of his mouth just as easily now as they had then, and were no less true.

"It's okay Sammy. I'm here."

Sam visibly relaxed, the whine dying out in his throat. Dean smiled, and started to chuckle, cutting if off abruptly when it came out sounding more like a sob. Despite everything that had happened, he still couldn't quite believe that his bitchy little brother was alive, had been alive for two years, and hadn't told him. He was definitely going to give him hell – Dean cut that thought right off and mentally corrected himself. He was going to give Sam a lot of crap when he was better, and maybe a good punch or two to boot.

Dean let Sam soak for a little longer, then pulled him out and got him settled into one of the beds, just in time for Bobby to come back, bearing a few bags of what smelled like burgers. Bobby nodded at Dean and tossed one of the bags at him.

"He come 'round yet?"

Dean shook his head and set the bag on the nightstand, busying himself with checking Sam's bandage.

"Boy, I know yer worried about him, but it ain't gonna kill you to eat something. Get some rest while yer at it. You look like road kill." Dean opened his mouth to protest but was unable to get very far. Bobby gave him the stink-eye and said, "Shut up and eat."

Dean decided he didn't really feel like arguing with the older man and gave in. Bobby eyed Dean for a few minutes then turned his attention to his own burger. For a little while neither of them spoke, there was nothing but the sound of chewing, and underneath that, the sound of Sam breathing.

"We'll take shifts, and I'll take the first one while you get some shut eye. No arguments, you got that?"

Dean swallowed his words along with his food.

"Yes sir."

Bobby sighed and rolled his eyes but he still furtively watched the elder Winchester, even as he made a show of getting settled on the other bed. Bobby knew damn well that Dean wouldn't sleep well if at all, but he had to try. Dean felt the eyes of the other hunter on him as he stretched out on his back. He knew that it was just concern and affection on the other mans' part; knew that Bobby was just as worried and upset as he was, but that didn't help quell the resentment much. Dean closed his eyes only to open them a second later to look at Bobby.

"Hey, where's Cas?"

"He's trying to find out how Sam got sprung from the cage. He'll check in if and when he finds out anything, now get some sleep."

Dean closed his eyes with a sigh of annoyance, all the while not even remotely intending to sleep. He started running through the lyrics to "And Justice for All" for the third time when he finally fell asleep.