In Sickness and in Stealth.

Chapter 3 - Sam is awesome and frustrated. Dean is … well, just Dean!

Sam glanced up at the clock; well over an hour had passed since his arm had been kidnapped. He sighed.

He had to try to extricate himself from his brother's grip soon, he was becoming increasingly concerned about the heat radiating from Dean's face, he really should have checked his temperature already, and also … if he didn't take a leak very soon, he was going to pee himself.

He tried to unpeel Dean's fingers from his elbow, gently lifting each one and trying to shift his arm slightly out of their range as he did so. He had almost completed the exercise when Dean shifted again, grasping fingers finding the elbow again.

Sam sighed, and began to squirm uncomfortably - there was gonna be another stain on this carpet real soon if he didn't get to the bathroom, like, now. He tried again, lifting his brother's fingers one by one from his elbow and trying to wriggle his arm out of Dean's reach. It seemed to work better this time as the elder Winchester huffed and tucked his forearm back into his chest, but there was still Dean's iron grip around his wrist to take care of.

Dean's movement made Sam become more aware of the pins and needles in his fingertips which were still squashed under Dean's face.

He winced as he wiggled his fingers to try to coax some blood back into them, and was surprised when Dean's head jerked with a soft snort, his brow and nose wrinkling as he murmured something that sounded like "geddoff".

Sam grinned; he had an idea.

With his free hand, he reached over and gently brushed Dean's uppermost earlobe with his fingertip. Dean flinched and let out a squeak; releasing his grip on Sam's wrist, bringing his hand to his face trying to dislodge the irritation, Sam slipped his hand away, almost free when Dean's hand flopped back, trapping him once more.

Sam tried again, the lightest fingertip brush to Dean's exposed ear; this time his head and hand jerked enough for Sam to slip his hand free.

He stepped back, out of Dean's range. "Right", he thought; "priorities … pee, thermometer, coffee!"

xxxxx

Sam heard the bed creak as Dean shifted with a breathy sigh. He peered around the bathroom door to see his brother fidget restlessly, blindly groping around on the mattress trying locate Sam's arm.

He was washing his hands at the bathroom sink when he heard a rustle as the sheets and the comforter were kicked off the bed, a moment later, there was a loud untidy thump and a startled squawk as the bed's occupant followed them to the floor.

"Owwwwwsnvabish!"

Sam dashed back into the bedroom to find his brother, in an impressive tangle of arms and legs, sprawled on top of the pile of sheets and blankets on the floor beside the bed. Helooked up at Sam with bewilderment in his dazed green eyes. "Wha …?"

Spluttering in his attempts not to laugh, Sam crouched down beside his brother, "you fell out of bed, dude".

Dean looked as if he was about to say something. All that came out was "oh".

"C'mon man, you need to get back into bed". He slid one arm under Dean's back, making a mental note of how hot and clammy his skin felt, the other under Dean's knees. Rising with a grunt, he lifted his brother back onto the bed.

Dean groaned and coughed, irritable and shaky after his fall, and Sam took the opportunity to shove the thermometer into his open mouth.

Sam pulled the sheets back onto the bed, and arranged them into some semblance of order, hindered somewhat by his fractious brother trying to kick them off, protesting grouchily around the thermometer that he was too hot.

Sam withdrew the thermometer, resisting the urge to stab Dean in the head with it, and checked the mercury – 101.9; warm, but no cause for panic just yet. Dean's breathing, on the other hand, was still sounding ragged and very unpleasant; the coughing and the laboured heaving of his chest also proving all was not well.

"You'd stay cooler if you kept still" nagged Sam; he cupped Dean's head in his hand and tilted it upwards, lifting a glass of water to Dean's lips. Dean drank woozily, his eyes never leaving Sam's face for a moment. He was trying for an angry glare, but ended up looking slightly cross-eyed.

"You sound awful" Sam announced.

"don' sound awful - jus' a cough" Dean countered, coughing up his last sip of water.

Sam ignored him. "You need antibiotics."

"Don' need nothin' - jus' a cough; stop fussin'". Sam gritted his teeth; telling Dean what a moron he was wasn't going to make anything better right now.

Sam handed Dean two Paracetamol tablets, "they'll help lower your temperature" he said, holding Dean's head while he helped Dean take some water with the tablets.

xxxxx

Sam laid Dean back down, and set about making his brother more comfortable. Filling a bowl with cool water, he grabbed a facecloth from the bathroom and sat down next to his now dozing brother.

He dampened the facecloth and gently dabbed Dean's forehead and face with it. Dean shifted slightly, but his sigh did not suggest discomfort, so Sam continued, running the cloth down Dean's neck and across his throat, shoulders and collarbones. Dean murmured softly, turning his head to face Sam, although his eyes remained closed.

Sam dampened the cloth again and pressed it against the back of Dean's neck. "How's that feel, bro'?" he asked with a smile.

"mmmmmmmmm …" was the response.

He moved the cloth down, rubbing slow gentle circles over Dean's chest, refreshing the cool cloth, and running it under his arms and down his sides. Dean squirmed under the touch, but nothing in his movement or demeanour suggested the sensation was anything other than pleasant and soothing.

Dean inched closer to Sam as he worked the cloth lower, across Dean's midriff. "Hey dude" laughed Sam, "don't go falling off the bed again!"

Sam placed he bowl and facecloth on the floor and pulled the abandoned sheets up over his brother's body. Dean snoozed contentedly, his face pressed hard up against Sam's thigh, his soft, congested snores muffled against the grubby denim. Sam smiled and leaned back against the headboard.

xxxxx

"I'm not taking them; I don't need them"

"You are just about the worst patient on the planet," Sam snapped, trying to force a stir-crazy brother to stay in bed. After a relatively peaceful night, punctuated only by the occasional coughing fit, Dean had woken up in full-on pain-in-the-ass mode. "Your chest sounds awful," Sam went on, "just because you don't feel hot any more doesn't mean you're better".

"Nothing wrong with my chest" huffed Dean, crossing his arms across the offending chest.

"Of course not," Sam countered, "breathing like you're snorkelling through custard is a great way to impress the chicks I suppose".

Dean made a whiney, exaggerated impression of Sam's lecture.

"Dean, this macho 'pretending I'm not ill' crap has got to stop." Sam stood to full height, hands on hips. "You do this every time; run yourself into the ground and make everything far worse than it would be if you just rested for a day or two".

"I don't need to rest," grunted Dean, "I'm fine."

Sam threw his arms in the air with exasperation, "I give up" he yelled. He threw a bottle of pills onto Dean's bed. "Broad spectrum antibiotics," he stated matter-of- factly. "The ones you liberated from that clinic in Vermont". If you have got a chest infection brewing, these should deal with it. "If they don't, then we'll have to think about seeing a medic."

"It's just a cough Sammy."

Sam's face darkened. "Oh, yeah, just a cough," he snorted. "Do you remember the last 'just a cough' you had?"

"Can it Sammy," warned Dean, stoney-faced.

"It turned into 'just a chest infection' if you recall," goaded Sam, his arms in full windmill-mode, as Dean glared at him.

"I remember the midnight dash to the ER which ended up with, now what was it? Let me see ..., oh, that's right, full on pneumonia with a generous dose of pleurisy just to liven things up".

Dean was no longer glaring. Sam was pushing the right buttons; it had been one if the worst, most frightening experiences of Dean's life. It had been equally frightening for Sam, and he was furious that Dean had apparently refused to learn from the experience.

Dean sat in his bed looking down into his lap though a blur of tears. The memory was terrifying.

"Do you remember the fun we had Dean?" Sam continued, "coughing up blood, the pain … jeez, Dean, that chest drain was a riot, wasn't it?"

"Finished?" Dean looked up quietly. Sam saw the unshed tears in his eyes.

"Dean" Sam softened, and sat on the bed next to his brother, "I can't go through all that again" he choked, "I can't sit there watching you going grey, gasping for breath, drowning in your own lungs" he picked up the tablets, "I can't do it again". He handed them to Dean.

"If you won't take them for yourself, take them for me. Please."

There it was. Dean's achilles heel; and Sam knew it.

Dean snatched the tablets and shook one out into his hand.

"If it'll stop you whining," he muttered unconvincingly.

Sam smiled.

"Still doesn't mean I'm sick."

"Of course not," replied Sam with a knowling smile, "preventative measures."

"You're still a woman."

Sam grinned, "that would explain why you were cuddling me when you were asleep."

"You lying snot" growled Dean, "I do not cuddle dudes, especially my own brother - that is just WRONG!"

Sam took immense delight in showing Dean the photo he had taken on his camera phone of the mighty Dean Winchester lying asleep with the face of an angel, clutching his little brother's arm like his life depended upon it.

Dean lunged for the phone, "GIMME THAT …" he yelped.

"Oh no," Sam leapt back and waggled it in front of Dean's face, "if I see any of those tablets left over by the end of the week, this is straight on the email to Bobby!"

xxxxx

END

That's all folks. Please let me know if you liked!