A few of you told me wanted to know more about Dean's pneumonia/pleurisy/hospital ordeal mentioned in chapter 3 of my story, "In Sickness and in Stealth" - shame on you, wanting to see the poor man suffer!

It would probably help if you read that story first to give a bit of 'context' - wow, that's a technical word, makes me sound like I know what I'm talking about - but it's not essential, I'm hoping that this story will be able to stand alone!

Wish me luck …

Disclaimer: I own nothing, I'm sorry to say …

JUST A COUGH, SAMMY

Chapter 1

Sam scraped his hand over his face; his crushing fatigue weighed like a ten-ton weight on him, but sleep felt like a million miles away. The hand he grasped was cold and clammy, it's grip weak, but desperately tight. He stroked the back of the hand with his thumb, hoping that he could provide a crumb of comfort through that simple motion, although he wasn't entirely sure who the comfort was more for the benefit of.

Fear glazed green eyes stared wetly from charcoal dark smudges, the only features in a face as pale and colourless as death itself.

Dean's dark blond hair clung limply to his damp forehead, serving to reinforce the vulnerability of his appearance; stripped of his fearless hunter's disguise; his aggressively spiked hair, massive, broad-shouldered overshirt, heavy boots, cowboy swagger and badass smirk, he looked exactly what he was; frightened, sick, and reaching out for the touch of one person who could make it all better - his brother.

Sam ruffled Dean's damp hair; "hey dude" he smiled unconvincingly, "you're gonna be alright, this is gonna help, ok?" He swallowed heavily, "we'll be back on the hunt before you know it!"

Dean nodded slowly and weakly, propped up against a mountain of pillows in his hospital bed and fighting for each laboured breath. The oxygen mask over his face prevented any kind of verbal response, but his glassy eyes remained latched, unblinking, onto Sam, and for a brief moment, Sam shared the fear and regret in them.

Trying his hardest to keep his eyes from Dean's disinfectant stained chest and the narrow tube which snaked out from under his armpit, disappearing into a canister hidden under the bed, Sam listened to the soft rhythmic beep of the heart monitor, and watched the lazy drip, drip, drip of the IV.

He would never get used to seeing his brother like this; weak, scared, dependent on machines and tubes and medicine; he could even less accept it when the whole sorry episode was largely self-inflicted. A whirl of emotions conflicted within him, fury and fear, love and sadness; he didn't know whether to hug Dean, or punch his lights out.

"I know you're gonna fight this" whispered Sam, his fingertips still playing with Dean's hair, "no stupid chest infection is gonna get the better of my badass big brother". Sam almost laughed out loud at the description; how could a 6 foot, 180 pound man possibly look so small and helpless?

Sam took a deep breath and scraped his hand over his face again. He watched a solitary tear slide down the side of his brother's face, and wondered "how the hell did it come to this?"

xxxxx

I know it's short chapter, but there's more to come - please let me know how I'm doing …

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