A/N: Hey, look, something new! I'll write more to the WIPs soon, I promise. _In the meantime, have this.

Valentine's Day Blues

Valentine's Day was not something to be rushed. It had to be savored, coaxed gently and wooed, and just like the lonely ladies who would be thronging in bars tonight, it deserved everything Dean could give it.

And this year? Dean could finally give it everything.

He had been looking forward to this Valentine's Day even more than usual, ever since his twenty-first birthday. Not that he hadn't spent the last years in bars already – fake IDs were awesome – but there was something to be said about being able to do it legally, especially tonight. For one thing, it practically guaranteed him free drinks, since his birthday had actually been only three weeks ago. But, more important, Dad was gone on a job, had been for a couple weeks, and wouldn't be back for at least two more. Which meant Dean could stay out as late as he wanted. No training at the ass crack of dawn, no job to do tonight, no leftover injury keeping him from going out like last year.

Oh yeah. Tonight was going to be awesome.

Humming (Metallica, of course), he rummaged through what clean clothes he had, which wasn't a whole hell of a lot. They needed to do laundry, he noted, and debated stealing something of Sam's. But he didn't want to wake Sam up just for that. Besides, Sam dressed like a dork anyway. So, forget it, he thought, and kept looking.

He should check on Sam, though, before he left. Sam had looked kinda pale when he'd gotten home from school and had gone straight to his room. Dean hadn't worried until Sam hadn't shown up when Dean made tacos a couple of hours ago. Recently Sam – who was turning into a goddamn giant – had been eating like a freaking horse, so that had definitely set off a few alarms.

"Sammy?" he'd asked, knocking on Sam's door. They actually had separate rooms at this place, which was convenient when Dean brought someone home. Sure, the rooms were about the size of postage stamps, but Dean's had a bed and a working door, and he didn't need much else.

Sam had answered his door after a couple more knocks. He was definitely pale and a little sweaty, but he'd ducked when Dean had tried to feel his forehead. "Dude, leave me alone," he had complained. "I just need a nap."

"You sure?" Dean had demanded. Figures, he'd thought, irritated, and then immediately felt bad about it. If Sammy was sick, it wasn't his fault he might end up ruining Dean's favorite holiday. Again.

"Yeah," Sam had replied. "It's cool, go out. I'll be fine." He'd kind of smiled then and made a little shooing motion. "Go," he'd repeated.

So Dean had gone, back to the kitchen to finish eating, then outside to the Impala to get her ready for tonight, and finally back inside to his room. Sam was a whiny bitch when he was sick, he reasoned, so he couldn't be that bad. Maybe something had happened at school earlier, like some chick hadn't liked his valentine or something. Or maybe he had stayed up too late doing math problems or writing essays or whatever it was geeks did to get straight A's.

The kid would be fine, he reassured himself as he finally found a black t-shirt that looked awesome on him and was actually clean.

Still, he'd definitely check on Sam before he left.

He finished up getting ready – hair spiked up just so, leather jacket on with the collar just right, his best jeans – and shut off the light in his room. Just a quick check on Sammy and then he was out of here. He could already taste it: the beer, the beat of the music, the smiles of the women, the scent of their skin. He grinned and stepped out of his room. Damn, he loved Valentine's Day.

Then he stopped dead.

Sam was in the hallway.

Not just in the hallway, either. No, his baby brother was wrapped in a ratty blanket and sitting on the goddamn floor. He looked awful now, way worse than he had earlier. His eyes had dark circles under them, his hair was straggling across his forehead in damp strands, and his face was gray, about the same color as the t-shirt Sam had on, for fuck's sake.

'Just need a nap,' Dean's ass.

"Sammy," he said, striding the three steps it took to get to his brother, "why the fuck are you sitting in the hallway?"

Sam looked up at him with bleary eyes. Then he dropped his head again and mumbled into the blanket, "I need to be close to the toilet."

Dean ignored the automatic stab of worry (something's wrong with Sammy, gotta protect Sammy) and asked, "Why aren't you in the bathroom then?"

"Because," Sam said miserably, pulling the blanket a little tighter, "if I look at the toilet I'll puke."

Oh, the little bitch. Dean crossed his arms and glared down at his brother. "Thought you said you'd be fine, Sammy."

"I will be," Sam insisted.

Yeah, like Dean believed that. Well Sam didn't let him get away with calling him Sammy, like, ever anymore, and this Sam had already let him get away with it twice. As if the shaking and the gray skin and the needing to be close to the toilet weren't enough evidence already.

"Bullshit," Dean growled. "You look like nine kinds of hell, Sammy. You suck at lying, you know that?"

"It's just vomiting now," Sam protested. "So I'm getting better. You don't need to stay." He clamped his mouth shut and closed his eyes, breathing hard through his nose. "I'll be fine," he mumbled finally.

Dean sighed and shrugged out of his jacket, tossing it back into his room without looking. Then he knelt on the worn carpet next to Sam and felt his forehead before Sam could try to stop him. It was clammy, sticky with sweat, and radiating heat far beyond what his furnace of a little brother usually did. Fever, for sure. Which meant Sammy definitely had the flu. Fuck.

Sam tried to shove him away. It was like getting shoved by a kitten. A weak one. "I'll be fine, dude," Sam repeated, which was a complete frigging lie and seriously, did Sam think he was an idiot? "Just go."

Dean started to snap back, but Sam went even grayer and shoved at him again, desperately this time. Dean shut up and watched as Sam crawled – literally crawled – into the bathroom, leaving the blanket behind in a crumpled heap. He stayed where he was, kneeling on the carpet in the fucking hallway while he listened to his baby brother gag and whimper and heave up his guts in the bathroom.

Goddamn it, he thought.

Eventually, the toilet flushed and the sink turned on. Dean looked up after it shut off to see Sam stagger back out into the hallway, eyes glassy now. "Hi," he said weakly, and started to reach for the blanket.

Dean was on his feet, his arm around Sam's shoulders before his brother even got halfway down. No way was he letting Sam sit on the floor again, not when he was this sick. His baby brother was shivering and so coated with sweat his clothes were fucking sticking to him. "No," he said before Sam could argue. "No, Sammy, you need to be in bed. Come on, let's get you cleaned up first."

"No, I'm fine," Sam tried to say, but Dean just shook his head and said, "Shut up, Sam," and guided him back into the bathroom. Sam needed his face cleaned off, probably needed his teeth brushed too, and then he needed to change clothes and get some fucking rest. None of this sitting in the hallway shit.

Once they got inside, Sam kind of moaned and pushed him away, then fell to his knees in front of the toilet and started retching. Dean looked away, saw a glass sitting on the counter. He filled it, keeping his back turned until he heard the toilet flush. "Thanks," Sam mumbled when Dean handed him the glass. He rinsed his mouth out and handed the glass back, then slumped back against the wall, panting.

Dean laid his hand on Sam's forehead again. Still hot. Too hot. "Can you keep water down?" he asked. "You need Tylenol, dude."

Sam shook his head. "Sometimes," he said. "But I tried taking Tylenol earlier. Just came back up."

"Son of a bitch," Dean muttered. "Like hell you're fine. Come on, let's get you in the bath. You need to cool off."

"No," Sam moaned, but didn't move, just watched with fevered eyes as Dean leaned over and turned on the taps on the ancient tub. Dean twisted them until the water ran how he wanted, cool but not frigid, and then turned back to his sick idiot of a brother.

While the tub filled, Dean got Sam back up and stripped him down. Sam shivered but he didn't protest as Dean helped him into the tub. Finally dropped the 'I'm fine' act, Dean thought as he used the glass from the counter to sluice water over Sam's head. Thank fucking god.

"Cold," Sam whimpered, teeth chattering.

"Suck it up," Dean said, and got a washcloth and the shampoo.

After Sam was clean and rinsed, he helped him out of the tub and wrapped him up in a towel. The kid was still too warm, but he felt cooler to the touch, which was a plus. Once he was dry, Dean helped him down the hall to his room. "Get dressed," he told Sam, then went to the kitchen to grab a plastic bag from his earlier grocery run and the empty wastebasket from under the sink. As he lined it with the bag, he heard the toilet flush again. "Damn it," he said under his breath.

Sam was sitting on his bed, head bowed, when Dean got to his room. He had managed to get on another pair of sweats and one of his hoodies, at least. "I threw up again," he told Dean, sounding about six years old. He looked lost sitting on the end of the bed, small even, though the kid was taller than Dean now. Dean shook his head.

Change of plans, he thought.

"I heard," he said, giving Sam the wastebasket. "Keep this and stay in bed while I'm gone. Got it?"

Sam nodded and hugged the wastebasket to his chest. "Got it," he mumbled. "Thanks, Dean."

"I'll be back," Dean said, and, after a quick stop in his room for his jacket and keys, he was off.

There was a gas station not too far, maybe five minutes away. Inside, he grabbed a bottle of Gatorade – lemonade, Sam's favorite – and a box of the powder mix version too, just in case. A few cans of chicken soup, a bottle of ginger ale, some crackers, and a bag of M&Ms – Dean was going to need them to spend all night with a sick Sam – and he was ready to go.

The cash register was being manned by a cute girl, maybe nineteen, with dark hair in several braids around her face and, Dean couldn't help but notice, an awesome rack. Dean gave it an appreciative glance as he set the stuff on the counter. At least he got to see one hot chick tonight, he told himself. Small favors and all, but he'd take what he could get.

"Evening," she said, sounding a little bored.

He couldn't have that. "Evening, sweetheart," he said to her, voice warm.

She looked up then and blinked, her dark eyes widening a little. Then she gave him a sexy little smile and started scanning his groceries. "Someone sick?" she asked, picking up the ginger ale and giving him a sympathetic look.

"My little brother," Dean told her, watching her slim fingers as she scanned his items. "I'm taking care of him tonight." She had nice hands, he thought. Bet they would feel great on his—

"Hope your girlfriend doesn't mind," she said, interrupting that train of thought. She gave him another sexy smile. "You missing Valentine's Day to take care of your brother and all."

He knew where this was going. "No girlfriend," he told her, giving her his best you-know-you-want-it grin. He held out his hand to her. "I'm Dean."

"Kaia," she said, taking his hand and squeezing his fingers firmly for a moment. Her hand was slim and cool in his. Oh yeah, she definitely had some good hands.

"Hope your boyfriend doesn't mind you working here," he said after she let go and went back to bagging his stuff up. "You know, Valentine's Day and all."

"No boyfriend. That'll be $12.85." He forked over a $20. She grinned at him and handed him his change. On the receipt was a phone number, with Kaia scribbled above it. He looked back up at her. She winked. "Give me a call when your brother's better," she smiled, and handed him his bag.

Fucking A.

He left everything but the bottle of Gatorade in the kitchen when he got back. Sam better not be in the hallway again, he thought as he headed towards the back of the house. The hallway was empty though, as was the bathroom, Dean saw when he glanced in.

Sam was lying in his bed, curled up around the wastebasket Dean had given him, eyes closed. "Wake up, Sleeping Beauty," Dean said, picking up the wastebasket – nothing in it, he noted, good – and setting it on the floor.

Sam's eyes blinked open. "What are you doing back?" he asked, confused. "I thought you left."

"I did," Dean said. "To get this." He held up the Gatorade. "C'mon, Sammy, you gotta try to keep something down. Sit up."

"I thought you were going out," Sam murmured as Dean helped him sit back up. He took a tiny sip from the bottle, then continued, "You don't have to stay with me. I know this is your favorite holiday, dude."

"Shut up and drink, bitch," Dean said, making him take another sip. Sam did, shaking just a little. He was still too warm, clearly wrung out, no matter what he said.

"Thanks," Sam whispered after he'd swallowed.

Dean shoved the bottle at him again. "You want me to stay in here with you?"

Sam took another tiny sip. "If you don't mind, yeah," he mumbled.

Dean thought of all his plans for tonight, of how long he'd been looking forward to the year's best holiday. Then he thought of the receipt in his pocket, and the way Sam had looked sitting shivering on the floor wrapped in a blanket, eyes glassy with fever. Fuck it, Dean thought. Valentine's Day would come around again soon enough.

He pushed Sam over a bit and got comfortable. "I don't mind," he said.