Sam struggled to make his way through the motel door while balancing an armful of supplies on one side and a barely upright Dean on the other. In his mind he was berating himself about getting so caught up in his research that he didn't realize the length of time that Dean had been missing. While Sam was sitting warm and cozy at his laptop figuring out that the creature they were hunting was an extraordinarily misplaced Bunyip and listening to the soothing sound of the rain, Dean had been caught by the water elemental they'd been hunting, made more powerful by the stormy weather. By the time Sam grew concerned the rain had turned to sleet and Dean had been gone for hours.
It twisted Sam's gut into knots knowing that the only reason Dean was still alive was that the Bunyip had a sadistic streak. The water elemental had trapped Dean on his back in a dry riverbed; then it sat there on the bank waiting for the bed to fill with runoff from the storm. The one thing that had gone Dean's way that night was that the creature was so transfixed waiting for him to drown by inches that Sam was able to approach unnoticed and finish it off.
With the hunt completed and back in a place of relative safety, Sam focused on taking care of Dean. Sam dropped the duffel of weapons and salt near the door and he manhandled Dean toward the bed closest to the bathroom. Dean had been uncharacteristically silent on the drive back to the motel; although he was responsive when Sam asked a direct question, there was no spontaneous complaining from the passenger seat of the Impala. Sam always took that as a bad sign.
The first order of business was to get Dean out of his wet clothes. It wasn't the first time Sam had to get Dean undressed, but the task usually involved copious amounts of alcohol, a lot more blood and/or much more complaining from Dean; having Dean be so pliant and cooperative was simply unnerving. Sam attacked the job with professional detachment; taking a survey of Dean's injuries from being pinned in the riverbed and checking for signs of frostbite in addition to hypothermia.
Dean's skin was cold to the touch and so pale that every freckle on his face stood out in stark contrast, but his extremities didn't have a blue or white hue that would've signaled danger. Sam quickly bundled Dean into a pair of sweatpants and an undershirt. The pathetic motel towels weren't great for absorption, but Sam did the best he could to towel dry Dean's hair before he fell over, unable to resist the lure of the bed which was so tantalizingly close.
Sam cocooned Dean inside all of the blankets from the bed he was in; he even placed the extra pillow between the headboard and the top of Dean's head so Dean's head wasn't exposed. Satisfied that his brother was settled for the moment, Sam quickly reset the room's salt lines and checked the other protections they had scattered around the room. Gathering the bedding from the bed closest to the door Sam deposited it all on the queen where Dean was laying. He rapidly shucked out of his own clothing and watched the flesh on his arms react to the sudden change in temperature by rising in goose-flesh. Dean's skin hadn't done that when Sam stripped him; that was a bad sign.
Trying to keep his movements from disturbing Dean, Sam crawled under the blankets from the opposite side. Sam fit himself into the cocoon of blankets while pulling the additional bedding over the both of them. Then he settled on his side pulling Dean back to fit tightly against his chest. Dean was still freezing and Sam's heart did an uncomfortable roll of distress inside his chest. This wasn't the first time the Winchesters had to deal with hypothermia, but it was the first time Sam had to do it without Dad; it was a much easier task with a third person to sandwich the cold person between.
Almost immediately Sam realized a flaw in his plan, with Dean's back against his chest that left Dean's arms and hands with nothing to warm them except his own body heat and the blankets. If they stayed in this position it would take much longer for Dean's extremities to be part of the warming process; Sam was pretty sure that was a bad thing. He'd have to flip Dean.
Levering himself up so he could reach across Dean, Sam pushed and pulled until Dean was flat on his back. Instinctively Dean kept his arms and hands pulled in close toward his body. It took some maneuvering, but Sam managed to simultaneously move Dean while keeping the blankets in as close as possible on Dean's back, now his "exposed" side. They ended up with Sam on his back and Dean tucked against his side and chest with his hands and arms between them. Sam restlessly ran his right hand up and down Dean's shoulder and back hoping to make some heat and increase blood flow.
After a few minutes Sam was feeling the heat from the double layer of blankets on the bed, but Dean didn't seem much warmer to him. It occurred to Sam that though Dean's arms and hands were now it a position to be warmed, his feet were not. It was about that time that Dean roused enough to comment on the proceedings.
"What the hell, Sammy?" he grumbled into Sam's shoulder.
Sam's face lit in a delighted grin, so relieved to hear the familiar tone of complaint. "Gotta warm you up, Dean…"
"Are you playing footsie with me?" Not that Sam had all that much more to say, but he was slightly annoyed at being interrupted with such an insane comment. He had to remind himself that people suffering from hypothermia also had impaired judgment and Dean probably didn't understand the situation clearly.
"No, I'm not playing "footsie", Dean…I'm trying to warm your feet up."
"Dude, if I wake up pregnant it'll totally be your fault."
"DEAN!" It was almost unreal how quickly Dean could take any situation, even when he was half dead, and make it something inappropriate.
"Dear Diary," Dean continued in a sing-song voice, "Last night Sam got a little fresh with me…"
Sam had half a mind to throw off the covers and sleep in his own bed when Dean's body caught up to the rest of him and he started shivering violently. Dean groaned and unconsciously rolled closer to Sam while Sam did his best to support him. Dean's feet and legs twitched; his arms flexed between them. Sam had been on Dean's end of the hypothermia sandwich before and he knew that although the spasms were painful and that it was distressing to be so helpless in your own body, the shivering was the body's way of reregulating its temperature and, for Sam, was the first hopeful sign of the night.
"Sam…" Dean huffed into his shoulder. His voice was raspy with pain.
"I know, Dean. I've got you." Sam resumed rubbing Dean's shoulder; this time to impart his presence more than his heat. "It'll pass. You're okay. Just hang on."
Time crawled to a halt, but time didn't matter to Sam any more. Dean was safe and dry; he was responding to treatment. Sam continued to mutter words of encouragement while Dean's internal temperature gradually righted itself.
After the tremors ceased and Dean seemed to have fallen into a natural sleep, Sam lay awake staring at the ceiling with the weight of his brother pressed against his chest. "I'm so sorry," he whispered into the quiet room. "I should've realized sooner that you were gone for too long."
Without a sound, Dean's hand uncurled, tapped twice against Sam's chest and then rested there, solid and present. That familiar gesture, given as a sign on other dark and sleepless nights, was Dean's way of saying "I've got you. It's okay."
Sam placed his hand on top of Dean's and quickly followed him down into a still slumber.