Title: That Old Familiar Magic
Author: HalfshellVenus
Characters: Sam/Dean (Gen or Light Wincest, Schmoop)
Rating: K+
Summary: When Sam's not feeling good, Dean actually takes pretty good care of him.
Author's Notes: For schmoop_bingo, this is "reading aloud."

x-x-x-x-x

Some hunts went badly, and others reached levels of catastrophic that deserved their own names. Today's ordeal had finished somewhere in between, but Sam hurt like hell and they were out of good painkillers, and even if he was overreacting the whole thing still totally sucked.

Dean stitched him up at the motel, which saved time and money and awkward questions, but sometimes Sam wished he could just wallow in a hospital bed and have people feel sorry for him based on his x-rays and bruises alone. Was that too much to ask?

"You want to stay on the couch, or try moving to the bed?" Dean said.

When Dean wasn't half-beaten-up himself, he took pretty good care of Sam. After so many years, it was hard to remember not to take that for granted.

"Bathroom first, then bed," Sam said. Because once that was over, he planned on never moving again.

With the help of Dean and every wall along the way, Sam took care of business and then got situated for what was probably going to be a very long night. "I'm down to one pair of jeans now," he muttered, as Dean settled him against the pillows.

"Those veratatek claws really take a toll," Dean agreed. "Those jeans would've been dead even if I hadn't cut them loose to stitch you up. Probably kept the gashes from being deeper, though."

"Mmmm," Sam answered, his head suddenly throbbing more heavily.

"TV?" Dean asked.

Sam groaned. "Too loud," he said.

"I could read to you," Dean said. "Like when you were little."

Sam smiled faintly, remembering. "Okay."

Dean got up and poked around the motel room, probably checking to see what someone else might have left behind. He came back shortly after, turning off the lights as he went. He sat down on the other side of the bed and shifted back gently to rest against the headboard, turning on the lamp on his side of the bed. The pages rustled as he opened the book.

"In the streets of New York, night came early," Dean began dramatically. "Hope faded with the sun and the rats came out to feed, ravaging the very heart and soul of the Five Boroughs.

"Detective Ron Baxter answered the phone on the second ring, ready for business. "Baxter," he growled.

"He could hardly hear his partner over the sirens at the scene. "It's a bad one," Theresa Saunders said. "The Lieutenant's bringing in half the squad."

"It was the kind of case Baxter lived for…"

"Wait," Sam said weakly, reeling from the sound of Dean shifting between baritone and falsetto. "No characters. Just your voice."

"You like my voice?" Dean teased.

"Always have," Sam said. "It's nice and deep. Comfortable," he added.

"Oh." Dean blinked, and then seemed to flush slightly. He turned his head away, almost shy, but Sam thought he caught a hint of a smile. "Well in that case," Dean finally said, "want me to read something a little quieter?"

Sam sighed happily. "That'd be nice," he said.

Dean got up and hunted around through their stuff until he found what he wanted. He sat back down again, easing in next to Sam.

"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow…" Dean started, his voice almost a faraway rumble.

Sam closed his eyes and listened, suddenly content. The ache in his head lessened, soothed by the sound of Dean's words and by the slow, gentle way Dean smoothed back the sides of his hair as the world softly faded away.

- fin -