Fractured Lives

Summary: Both Winchesters must come to terms with recent events though Dean learns that even grown his brother still needs him when an unexpected turn of events takes both brothers off guard and the fractures in their lives will need to be mended to help Sam. Sick/upset!Sam /Big brother/protective!Dean

Tags: Tagged to episode 8 of season 7, Season 7, Time for a Wedding so it will contain minor spoilers.

Spoilers/Warnings: It does have spoilers for episode 8 so beware of this. May also contain mention of other events from earlier seasons. I'll rate it for language since Dean is still angry.

Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, I just write this for fun.

Author Note: Thanks for reading all the tags to this episode that I've done. This one turned out longer than I expected but who can resist a sick Sammy.

"NO! Let…go, get offa me…nooo!"

"Sonuvabitch! C'mon, Sam, calm down a little and it'll stop hurting."

"No, don' touch me you…Becky…don' do…Dean!"

The last choked sob nearly broke the wall that was keeping Dean Winchester's emotions in check as he struggled to keep his violently thrashing burning with fever little brother in the tub that he'd hastily filled with ice water in a rushed attempt to break the fever that he'd only recently discovered Sam had.

Dean's recent days hadn't been good but right then he was too busy cussing himself, the world and the obsessed little twit that had decided to drug his brother multiple times with a love potion without knowing what reactions her actions would eventually have on Sam.

"Sammy, it's Dean. I swear you're safe but you have to…ugh!" the wild fist managed to sneak under his guard to knock his head back with a hard blow to his jaw which broke the hold he had on his brother and only the instincts Dean learned long ago and an agility he rarely used allowed him to grab hold of his bigger but also sick younger sibling and push him back into the tub with a growl. "Damn it, Sam! You pull that stunt one more time and I swear I'm gonna drown your ass as soon as you're better," he promised, tasting blood but ignoring it in favor of using more strength than he liked to restrain Sam while trying to use the plastic cup he'd grabbed to pour the water over hot skin. "Sammy!"

Whether it was the sharp voice or something his fevered mind made him see, the younger Winchester finally slumped back in the tub but jerked his head away from the fingers that were trying to touch him. "Don'…touch me…" he mumbled, coughing and not hearing the rattling in his chest that had been there for weeks unknown to his older brother. "Please…let me…"

Anger plain in his eyes, Dean felt the muscle in his jaw twitch at how helpless his brother sounded right then but chalked it up to being sick, fevered, on edge from recent events and having memories of other times hit him hard with the use of the damn love potions he'd been doused with.

Twisting to grab a bottle of pills he'd found in Sam's duffel, Dean struggled with the damn child-proof cap while swearing to find the inventor of those things and shooting him then tried to get his in shock, frightened and sick brother to swallow the damn things on top of keeping him in the ice bath.

Barely avoiding another fist to the face told Dean that this plan wasn't working and he knew he only had one other option even if it was one he didn't like considering how Sam was reacting right then. "I'm sorry, Sam. I should've been paying more attention, I never should've left you alone on that damn hunting trip and I never should have said what I did or booked us how I did tonight," he sighed, jerking off the long sleeved button down shirt that he'd pulled on over his black T-shirt he took the only option left in order to keep his brother still and calm.

"…wha?" a choking cough hit Sam hard but as he struggled to breath and evade what only his tired mind could see, he jerked at the strong arm that encircled his shoulders from behind. "No! Get away from…De'n, don' let 'em…"

"Shh, it's okay, little brother. You can punch me out once you feel better," Dean told him, voice tight with emotions he knew he'd have to expel on something and soon as he hissed at the ice cold water that he'd have to endure in order to hold Sam still long enough for it to hopefully break his fever because while he knew his brother wouldn't take to being held like this well, he was damn if he'd tie Sam down to do it.

The thought of anyone ever restraining his brother like that made Dean furious and he swore that it would never happen again since he knew what it brought back to the kid.

Tightening his arm when he felt Sam go rigid, Dean held on until Sam's struggles lessened and he seemed to go limp against him and he could only hope this fever broke soon and that his brother didn't have any lasting effects from this latest mess they'd found themselves in while he wished he'd listened to his gut and not allow his own feelings and hurt to make it worse on both of them.

24 hours earlier:

"What the hell did you do, ya idjit?"

Besides the sound of water running in the room next door for the past two hours, in addition to the loud TV also coming from next door, the loud outraged voice of Bobby Singer had Dean Winchester wanting to bury his head under something and not come out.

"Bobby…" he started only to be cut off by the grizzled hunter's shouting and since he knew it took a lot to make Bobby this angry he slumped back on one of the two double beds one of the two rooms he'd booked that evening to let the man run out of steam.

Dean was beyond tired and it showed in the restless way he ran his fingers through his short hair while his ears seemed to listen on instinct for any noise other than the annoying TV sounds and water coming from next door.

The past month or so had been unusually hard for the Winchesters and considering some of the crap Dean and his younger brother Sam had faced over the years that was saying a lot. Dean still wasn't certain how he'd gone from getting Sam's soul put back in to losing their former Angel friend to possession of some ancient monster from Purgatory.

Finding out that Castiel was probably basically gone had been one shock but then learning that the return of all of Sam's memories had him seeing things, mainly Lucifer telling him that he was still in Hell, nearly was enough to drive even Dean to a dark spot but he'd held on for Sam's sake since he's always taken care of his little brother and needed to be sure the kid wouldn't go postal.

Coping with Sam had been one nightmare, dealing with the lies he'd been forced to tell his brother to keep him safe from learning that Dean had killed something that Sam had considered a friend had been hard but the worst came when Sam learned of his brother's actions and had left for a week.

Dean hadn't asked too many questions about what Sam had been doing in that week though he had caught some interesting tells in Sam that normally would've had him grilling the kid until he remembered that Sam was still a little too tense for the normal big brother routine just then.

So after getting back together to work a case involving Mediums being killed, Dean had let it go and he and Sam had gone on to Las Vegas for what had become an annual thing for them but then Sam decided to go commune with nature and find himself in the desert and Dean had found himself sitting in strip clubs alone and brooding which, he considered, was very annoying.

"Bobby…" he tried again to get a word in edgewise only to shot down again.

"Boy, in all the time I've known you two…from the first night your Dad dropped you on me to all the bad stuff that you and Sam have gone through from Lucifer, to Ruby, to the demon blood mess to Sam being soulless I have never known the two of you not to share a goddamn room!" Bobby had known something was off with this whole mess the moment he got Dean's first message on top of some of the things he'd been picking up about Sam's week on his own to finally what Garth's final report back to him had been after he'd left his two idjits but to find out what Dean had done by booking them into two separate rooms had been the last straw for him and his temper blew.

Groaning, Dean knew the next time he saw that skinny little hunter that Bobby had sent to work with him that he'd string him up for probably calling Bobby as soon as he was out of sight.

"Bobby, just consider it an experiment," the older Winchester tried while rolling his own eyes in a way that was much like his younger brother's own use of that expression. "I told him I thought he was grown up after all this and since he was so thrilled with that idea that he decided I could look after myself for a change I decided to try two rooms to give us each…space."

"Space?" the word was repeated in a low growl that told Dean that had the older man been able to reach him he'd be having his head slapped or worse. "Since when did you give a crap about giving your brother space, boy?"

To be honest Dean wasn't certain when that had happened or why he'd done what he had tonight. He'd known for years that Sam had been wanting him to treat him like an equal, like a partner and not so much like a baby brother…even though Dean had been taking care of Sam since the kid had been six months old pretty much.

He knew that Sam's head still wasn't on all the way and that he shouldn't place too much stock in whatever the kid said most of the time…especially the last few days after he learned the real reason Sam had acted so strange.

It had all started in Vegas while Sam had been camping, which Dean had always considered a bad thing anyway. The cell phone message was a tip off that something weird was happening but then to get to one of those open all night wedding chapels to find that his little brother had married…he still shuddered at the very thought that Sam said he'd fallen in love and married…Becky Rosen.

To Dean, the scatterbrain girl had been annoying and somewhat…scary from the first time she came into their lives by delivering a message Chuck has sent to them. Becky was beyond Super Fan. She was obsessed with Sam so to find out his brother had married the girl had sent every warning bell up but Sam had seemed sincere and that's when the bitterness started.

Dean knew what his brother said shouldn't have hurt, especially after he and Garth learned the truth but deep down they just added to other little things that had been said between them over the years that still stewed in Dean's gut.

Despite Sam's obvious happiness and Becky's obvious dislike of Dean, he'd followed the supposedly happy couple only to find a case in town with some very mysterious deaths and that was why Bobby had sent the very tiny hunter known as Garth to help out.

He'd hunted without Sam before but to say it had hurt to learn that Sam was working the case with Becky would be an understatement because it had but he'd walked out, leaving Sam alone with what he'd originally assumed or wrongly assumed, to be a harmless if somewhat obsessed girl.

Then after learning the deaths had been caused by a Crossroads deal gone wrong, pieces began to click in ways Dean hadn't liked only to have it get worse when he and Garth got to Becky's apartment to find the couple gone but a clue to their whereabouts and several empty bottles of something that just succeeded in pissing Dean off when it hit him what must have happened.

"Dean, Garth told me what the hell you two found at that cabin," Bobby was calming down since his voice had stopped echoing but the younger man wished the sound of the shower next door would stop soon then maybe the twisting in his gut would settle. "How is Sam?"

Pushing up finally to begin to prowl his room, Dean ran a hand over his duffel to flip it open for a clean shirt only to see a folded slip of paper on top with his name scrawled in Sam's handwriting. "Drug wore off which is why she slammed him in the head with the damn waffle iron I bought 'em and took him to that cabin so he couldn't call me," he shrugged as if he could be seen but the low growl he heard warned what the older man was really asking. "He's…fine, Bobby. You know Sam."

"Yeah and so do you, ya moron," Bobby snapped over the phone, wondering how many times he'd have to slam these two idjits heads together to get them to see common sense. "Ignoring what Garth said he saw after you kicked in the door or how the kid looked while you were cutting him loose and finding his pants…wanna tell me when the kid lost the cold or near pneumonia he'd picked up in that week he was solo?"

Still brooding over the fact that Becky had ruffied his little brother with a few doses of love potion to make him love her, marry her and turn on him, Dean's mind was beginning to drift back to the events of the cabin and the note with a shakily written 'I'm sorry for what I said' inside it when those last words hit and his green eyes bulleted back to the cell phone that he had on speaker. "Come again? What the hell do you mean Sam was sick?" he demanded, eyes lifting to the wall that separated his room from the one he'd booked next door for his brother. "I would've…"

"Yeah? You would've noticed Sam coughing? Or running a fever?" Bobby doubted that after his last talk with Sam before the whole camping thing went down. "How was Sam acting before Vegas, Dean?"

Thinking back to after the Medium case when he and Sam began riding together again, Dean considered. He had noticed that Sam was more quiet than normal but had shrugged that off to his still being a little pissed at Dean for killing Amy.

Of course, he'd also shrugged it away to his own paranoia that Sam seemed to be more pale and taking longer steamier showers than normal…which were things his brother only did when trying to break congestion loose. He'd thought he'd heard Sam coughing a couple times at night but by the time Dean had woke up fully his brother seemed to be sleeping peacefully with his pillow clutched to his chest like…like Sam had done as a kid when sick and hiding it.

The muscle in Dean's jaw began to twitch like it did when he was getting angry. "Sam was sick when that whole mess went down with Becky?" he growled, thinking back to how his brother had acted in the last few hours since leaving that town and Becky far behind. "He was still sick and then got drugged multiple times and whacked in the head?"

"That's what I'm asking you, Dean," Bobby shot back, hearing the tone in the boy's change and knowing that the casual, easy going voice was about to be replaced by the harder, more serious older brother tone Dean got when Sam was sick, the one that went past the low growl that had scared Garth to death when Dean had found his brother at the cabin.

Flicking his own TV off, Dean placed a hand on the opposite wall then made a fist to pound on it. "Sam! How about turning that noise down or shutting the water off?" he shouted in what he hoped sounded like the more gruff tone he'd been using with Sam recently.

Listening for a long moment for a reply, the second he didn't get one in what he assumed was a reasonable amount of time Dean let out a long string of curse words, mainly aimed at himself for not seeing it before now then he was grabbing his long sleeve button down shirt rather than his jacket and clicking his phone. "I'll call ya back, Bobby."

Not giving the older man a chance to reply, Dean was out his door and pounding on the door of the opposite room a heartbeat later. "Sam! Hey, open it. We…need to talk about…a case Bobby found," he guessed that would sound logical then waited, willing to give his hard headed brother the benefit of the doubt in case he was still in the shower.

It hadn't surprised Dean when he heard the shower in Sam's room come on as soon as his brother got inside because in a way he'd been expecting it. Sam reacted to certain things in certain ways and this encounter with Becky, the being drugged to love her, tricked into marrying her to finally the girl's last desperate attempt to keep him would've brought back some of Sam's more intense and bad memories and as Dean knew well those times would mean his little brother would hit the shower to try to scrub the memories away…not that it ever worked.

Leaning on the wall next to the door, Dean's fingers were getting twitchy the longer it went that he didn't hear anything from the room. This had been the first time in all their lives that they hadn't shared a room and Dean knew it had surprised Sam when he'd been tossed his own room key but Dean had still been willing to put up the front that he'd started back at the car.

For the moment forgetting the cabin that he and Garth had tracked Sam and Becky to, he remembered dealing with the Crossroads demon…or Crowley dealing with him, getting that sham of a marriage annulled since he really didn't like the thought of having to shoot the girl…though right then he was reconsidering that choice the longer he thought about it, and just getting Sam the hell away from her.

Dean knew he'd make the mistake of actually voicing his opinion that Sam had finally grown up and really didn't need his big brother watching out for him all that time. He'd known it, felt it the second he heard the damn words but by then Sam's eyes had gone so huge with surprise then what he'd taken as relief that he couldn't take it back.

Then Sam had said something that Dean was really shocked to have hurt so much. He knew his brother didn't mean them to hurt, that he honestly did want Dean to take the time to look after himself rather than Sam but for Dean, who had been looking out for, protecting Sam since he'd been six months old, that wasn't so easy to do.

So in some way, Dean supposed that was way when Sam suddenly, much too suddenly now that Dean thought about it, suggested they crash for the night he booked two rooms instead of the single with two double beds. Of course, he hadn't been counting on feeling so lost himself in that empty room either but accepted that he needed to give Sam space to cope with what had happened before he pushed too much.

He had pushed for some answers on the way from the cabin but only got the basic shrug or one word reply. Becky had done most of the answering while Sam just…pulled into himself while avoiding any actual physical contact.

Thinking about what Bobby had said also made him frown. Sam had spent a week away from him and they were still readjusting when Vegas had come up. His brother had slept a lot in the car and would dig in his coat or duffel bag about every six to eight hours as if he'd been taking…

"Sam!" this time when Dean pounded on the door there was no more casual patience but the budding spurts of panic. Trying the knob before he flipped a coin to see if he wanted to pick the lock or go get another key from the manager, he felt his concern hike up several notches when the knob turned in his hand which meant Sam hadn't locked it…a huge hunting no-no and something his brother just wouldn't do unless his mind had been elsewhere.

Stepping into the room, Dean's first glance told him some of what he needed to know. Sam's concentration wasn't up to par because his duffel had been dumped on the bed farthest from the door, the bed that Sam would automatically take since it was what they'd always done, while a string of clothes laid on the floor but it was the overturned trashcan that drew his full attention and also turned casual concern into downright panic as he lunged for the closed bathroom door only to find this door locked.

"Sure, he locks this one," he muttered, again not surprised since Sam had always locked the bathroom door since it had been a habit he'd started when he'd been sixteen. "Sam? You in there or did you drown?" he called loudly, still hoping for a response but the moment he only got what sounded to him like a weak moan that was it and he kicked in the door. "Sam? Shit, little brother…are you trying to cook yourself or…"

Being assailed by a wall of pure heat and steam, Dean had to step back out to catch his breath before going into the bathroom to let his eyes try to see past the lessening steam from the scalding hot shower until he finally saw what he prayed he wouldn't. "Sam? Hey, Sammy?" kneeling down next to where Sam had curled himself against the wall in only a pair of boxers, Dean was cautious when he reached out a hand to touch. "Sam? You awake in there or…sonuvabitch."

The final word was said on a breath because he could see the harsh red welts on Sam's wrists that he knew were a result of his brother struggling against the ropes that had held him to the bed in that cabin and Dean once again felt his rage begin to burn while struggling to remember who he was angry with.

He knew he couldn't place all the blame on Becky because she wouldn't have, couldn't have known what being tied to a bed or tied down would mean to his brother because Chuck, when he wrote those damn books, had thankfully kept some details out of them but Dean knew and he had known the moment he kicked in the cabin door.

After Garth had scoured Becky's apartment with a fine tooth comb and they'd found the photo and address of the cabin, along with several small and ancient looking bottles and the waffle iron that had been used to hit his probably confused brother in the head, Dean had been pissed.

He'd been pissed that he'd allowed Sam to stay with the girl in the first place when every hunters sense he had been trained to have had been screaming. He'd been pissed more when he realized that his little brother, the kid he'd tried so damn hard to shield from nearly everything, had been drugged by an obsessed girl who clearly only had one thing on her mind which is why his temper soared the second he kicked in the cabin's front door only to find his brother tied to a bed with Becky considering whether or not she could force him to drink the new bottle of potion.

Only Garth getting to Becky first kept Dean from doing something drastic, that and the quiet tone Sam used when he said his name then Dean struggled to keep from showing his emotions while he sat with his back to the skinny nerd hunter and Becky to cut Sam free.

Making some remark that only Sam could get his head caved in by a girl half his size and weight, Dean tried to keep it light but he hadn't missed the way his brother's arms were shaking or the way his ducked his head away from Dean's intense gaze the second he realized that again Sam was only in his shorts while his pants were across the room.

Keeping one hand on Sam's chest, Dean recalled the tightness in his brother as he finished cutting him free then simply moved because he knew the kid well enough to know that Sam would make quick work to get as far away from that bed as possible and he hadn't been wrong.

"Sammy?" now he noticed how raw his wrists were and would assume the ankles were the same way but he was also noticing the red welts on his little brother's arms and chest but didn't mind them since he knew they were simply from Sam scrubbing the feelings away with scalding hot water.

Reaching over to turn the shower off, Dean noticed the water was running cool and after so long he wasn't shocked by this. What he was shocked over was how pale Sam seemed despite the heat and steam of the bathroom so on instinct he reached to touch a hand to his forehead only to have Sam jerk away with a hiss.

Sam, c'mon, let me feel," he again went to reach but this time caught the arm that tried to shove him away to lay the back of his hand on Sam's face and then panicked at the heat he could feel even before touching him. "Damn, Sam! How long have you had this fever?" Dean demanded, shifting to try to get his brother to his feet he saw stars when an open hand hit his face. "Sam!"

"Get…away," he gritted, feeling his stomach roll as the drugs still in his system mixed with the concussion he knew he had to what else he was seeing and unable to move fast enough to make it to the sink or toilet when his meager lunch came up. "Won'…let you…Becky, you don' have to…"

Managing to grab for Sam before he fell face first to the floor, Dean wasn't so lucky to avoid the vomit but he merely swallowed the groan that came and remembered the many other times when Sam was sick that he'd had the same thing happen to him.

One good look now told Dean that his brother was fighting more than just bad memories. The kid was sick and if Dean judged the rattling in Sam's chest as any indication he'd guess the beginnings of pneumonia and the nausea was a combination of the illness, the drug and the concussion he guessed Sam had.

The fever worried Dean because he knew when Sam was young he was prone to running high ones and it had mainly been him sitting up with his sick and clingy little brother though right then he knew that Sam wouldn't be clingy when all the kid would want is to be left alone.

It had been like that after their run in with those crazy rednecks, the Benders, only that time Dean had pushed Sam for answers and then spent the next hours dealing with the fallout. Only Dean knew what his brother had been through in his life and he knew why the kid hated to be tied down so once again he swore to call in favors or make a deal or something to get something dropped on that obsessed girl who had hurt his little brother even without meaning to.

Now though he knew he needed to get the fever down and fast so with quick work, he filled the tub with cold water then left Sam long enough to get a bucket of ice to toss in the water before wrestling his 6'4" brother to his feet while avoiding anymore fists then prepared to get soaked the minute Sam was lowered into the water and came up swinging.

"NOOO!" he screamed, feeling the water but also feeling hands on him and wanting to move. He wanted his brother but knew he'd lost that again but right then all Sam was aware of was being held in water and wanting free no matter what he had to do.

He struggled against the firm arms of the man he could hear but not see even though his mind was saying to be calm all Sam could feel and see were shadows of his past. He recalled the Benders and the things that happened that he still hadn't told Dean fully of, he recalled other times in his life that he'd been tied to finally this time while feeling so scared when coming out of the drugs and wanting his brother to finally waking up tied to a bed with only his T-shirt and shorts on with a quilt on top of him.

The icy water sluiced over his hair and face and while it cooled off his hot skin, he still wanted out, he wanted to find Dean because he knew his big brother could make this all go away because that's what Dean had always done then his briefly recalled telling Dean that it would be good for him to look after himself once and awhile and felt the tears fall.

Sam knew he's hurt his brother by the way Dean was acting but the two rooms told him just how badly he'd screwed it up since not even when all the bad stuff with Ruby and the demon blood was going on did Dean book two rooms.

"…Sorry, De'n," he mumbled after finally losing the fight of freeing himself and went limp after the arms holding him had slipped behind him but something, a part of him from his childhood, seemed to recall the strength of the arm holding him and the gruff voice that was whispering to him. "Don' wanna grow up if…you leave or…"

"I'm not going anywhere, Sammy," the voice assured him, dumping more water over his hot face and this time Sam blew water out of his mouth like he would as a child just to see his brother smile and he heard the soft chuckle behind him. "Just rest and let this fever run its course."

Shifting in the water, Sam felt the arm move enough to allow him this little space then he felt shaking fingers card his wet hair back off his forehead as he felt himself being pulled down into the fever with only thoughts of Dean and the prayer that he could make it right in his mind.

53 hours laters:

Cool air blowing over him forced Sam Winchester to groan while reaching on reflex for a blanket only to have his hand pulled back.

"Hold this still until I finish hooking the tape, Geek-boy."

The rougher than normal voice sounded gruff as if its user hadn't been using it much lately and as Sam's hazel eyes slowly tried to open he managed to look from under his lashes to see Dean sitting on the edge of his bed and appeared to be wrapping his one wrist. Then he noticed that it wasn't just his brother's voice that appeared rough.

Dean looked more haggard than Sam could recall seeing in a long time as he took in the tired eyes, the slightly more than normal five o'clock shadow that was a sign that Dean hadn't shaved in a few days but what gave away his brother's concern was the way Dean's hair was mussed, which was a sure sign that he'd been running his fingers through it.

"De'n?" Sam's throat felt like sandpaper when he tried to talk then quickly blinked when a straw was held up so he could sip ice water that burned worse than his throat had originally but was surprised at how weak he felt and struggled to understand what the hell was happening. "Wha…why're…damn."

"Bobby is so pissed that he's threatening to ground both of us," Dean kept his eyes on the clean piece of gauze he was changing over the deep rope welts while trying to forget the past few days and nights of soothing his fevered and confused brother. "Care to tell me when you picked up the bug that decided to take up residence in your lungs?"

Trying to place things, Sam recalled or thought he did being in a room by himself which he'd hated since it reminded him too much of the four months his brother had been in Hell. Shifting on the bed, he felt a firm hand lay flat on his chest which was something Dean used to do when he'd been younger but he had no intention of trying to move. He just wanted to see where he was.

He barely recognized the room that his brother had rented for him since by the time they'd gotten to the motel, Sam had just wanted a long shower to try to wash off the memories of both recent events and things that it had brought back. Then flashes of feeling sick began coming back and he slowly began to guess what must've happened but not why his brother was with him or how long he'd been under this time.

"How…long?" he managed to ask, noticing that he was on the bed closest to the door since his entire duffel, most of Dean's and their full medical kit was spread on the other bed.

"Oh, from the time I found you in the bathroom to now I'd say roughly…almost four days of pure fun dealing with your sick self," Dean replied with a grunt, still keeping his eyes from looking up because he wasn't ready for that yet. "When'd you get sick, Sam or did this latest thing just bring it on?"

The rough tone still warned Sam that his brother was well and truly pissed and he guessed he couldn't blame him since they'd just decided that Sam was grown up finally and didn't need Dean so much…even if Sam could have bit his own tongue off for what he'd said in return to that.

"Woke up…coughing that one morning in Lillydale…before you found me," he admitted, wincing as his whole body seemed to ache though he still wasn't ready to lie down he knew he wasn't strong enough to try to sit up or get out of bed so made himself focus on what Dean was doing. "I got tossed into a small…lake by a water spirit a few days earlier so I…just assumed I picked up…a cold," Sam yawned then felt the blanket being laid over him carefully then arranged so it wouldn't be too restraining. "I'd been taking cold pills and cough meds but then…"

"Then your number 1 fan decided to go all Kathy Bates in Misery on your ass and between the drugs she hosed you with to the stress of that to missing the meds you'd been taking all hell literally broke loose because when I got to you that fever had already spiked past a hundred," Dean remarked, finally content that he'd done all he could for the wounds he could see and knowing it would be the wounds he couldn't see that would be a problem for them. "Sam, when was the last time I mentioned that I hate dealing with you when you're sick, fevered, concussed, and confused?"

Knowing how he was normally when sick, Sam guessed what his brother had probably been dealing with because on top of the cold and fever, he knew he'd've still been coping with the leftover effects of the love potion to finally his own responses.

"How many times did I hit you?" he asked, figuring that was why his brother was avoiding his eyes when something seemed to come back to him with a frown. "I got you wet again, didn't I?"

"I was soaked from the first second I put you in the tub to cool you off," Dean shrugged, not seeming to mind that as he turned to start putting the medical kit back together. "Though I did threaten to drown you if you hit me in the face again."

Looking away, Sam noticed he was dressed in an old hoodie that he kept buried in the bottom of his duffel along with one of Dean's more worn long sleeved shirts and a pair of old flannel sleep pants that he was surprised still fit him.

The clothes were ones used for warmth and comfort, something Sam understood only his brother would have considered as he shifted the blanket aside to look at his arm only to have it pulled back up even though Dean didn't even look over.

Able to hold the cup with slightly shaking hands, Sam took the time to look at the room to see that it looked like a train had been through it. Bed clothes had been tossed off to one side, dirty clothes also littered that pile while he noticed another pile of clothes next to the trashcan that he knew were the ones he'd been wearing recently when the amount of take out containers also caught his eye.

"We…stayed longer than what you were planning…" he began when a groan made him look to see Dean had stood up to move the kit only to lay a hand on his back then had to catch himself on the wall as if he'd gotten up too fast. "Dean?"

"Yeah, fine. Just never sit in one of these damn chairs for forty-eight hours or your next stop will be to a bone cruncher," Dean knew Sam would fall back to sleep soon and then he could handle his own aches and pains but wasn't expecting to feel the touch of fingers on his wrist. "I'm fine, Sam. Just sat too…"

Sam knew that much was probably true since he had noticed the tiny motel room chair next to the bed but he could still read his older brother and saw something else. The exhaustion was plain but so was the way he was moving.

"I break a rib or just crack it when you were trying to hold me in the tub?" he asked, seeing the way his brother's shoulders seemed to roll as if working out the tightness then finally drew in a breath when Dean slowly turned to face him and the depth of the fatigue, the worry and something else that he noticed in those green eyes made him bit his lip. "Dean? How'd you find me anyway? I thought we agreed that I was all grown up and…"

"Yeah, about that…" Dean sighed, sitting back down on the edge of the bed to run a weary hand through his hair and then rubbed at his tired eyes. "Sam, you can grow up all you want…Hell, you've been grown up since the night you left for college but…this whole thing about me letting you grow up? About not watching over you so much and taking care of myself for a change?" he seemed to pause as if thinking about something before finally lifting his eyes up to fully lock on tired but clear hazel eyes and placing a careful hand over the fist that Sam had clenching the blanket. "You can be pissed off at me for however long you want for saying this but…I'm calling bullshit because I'm not doing this again."

Squeezing lightly, he shook his head. "I know you want to be treated like an equal, like my partner…I know you want to be grown up and not have me bitching at you or worrying over you but it's not ever gonna work like that no matter what I said back there," Dean told him firmly, deciding to lay it all out now. "You've been my responsibility since even before the fire and while I've screwed up in a lot of bad ways with you I will always be your big brother so watching out for my pain in the ass little brother is just part of my job description and it probably always will be."

"You still want to…" Sam hesitated as if worried to say the wrong thing when he felt the hand holding his wrist move to lightly squeeze his neck in a way that he knew was Dean's way of offering silent comfort.

"We might live fractured lives, Sam but at the end of every damn day, the close of every damn case the one thing that can't be changed is what we are," Dean made a point to meet his brother's drooping eyes then to be sure he'd understand. "We're brothers. Yeah, you want more freedom and I want a day to go by without some nutcase hurting you but we don't always get what we want," he smirked lightly then turned more serious. "You okay with that?"

"Don' like not sharing a room," Sam admitted quietly, not aware when his words began to slur a little as sleep began to come on again. "Didn't want to grow up…if it meant losing you or making you think I didn't need you or…Dean, I need to sit up."

Not sure that was a good plan but guessing he knew why his brother wanted to move, Dean merely nodded before easing up to the top of the bed to help Sam into a sitting position against the headboard then frowned slightly when he felt the younger man shift so that he was using Dean's own shoulder as a headrest. "Huh," he muttered, knowing it had been a long time since Sam had done this but stayed silent about it. "Yeah, this whole two room thing bombed so that was my mistake and will never happen again," he promised, adding. "You won't lose me, Sammy but…you sure you're okay or do you want me to go drop a piano on her?"

Sleepy and sore, Sam was still alert enough to recognize the tone of voice and knew his brother would do just that if he could so with a tired smile he shook his head or tried to. "No…she didn't know, Dean," he murmured, remembering the first pangs of pure panic when he'd woken up tied to that bed and flashes of another time came back to him. "Becky didn't…hurt me. It was just those damn ropes and…God, I thought I'd forgotten them."

"It's okay, little brother. Everything's worse now because you're sick on top of it," Dean hoped he sounded convincing since he wasn't admitting that he still had nightmares about those freakin' rednecks and wished he would've hurt them more for what they'd done to his brother. "Though, you are so not camping anymore without me…and no more drinks with obsessed Super Fans and…"

Sam chuckled, feeling strong fingers squeeze his neck before settling on his shoulder while he felt his brother's other arm go around him to offer support for the nightmares both Winchesters knew would be coming for the next few nights until Sam had a chance to work through it again.

"So says the guy who went out for a beer only to get grabbed by an ancient Egyptian God looking to kill him," he mumbled, smiling at the gruff 'Shut up, Sam,' he heard in reply then made his eyes open to glance up and this time he caught the bruises on Dean's face, the swelled lip, the gash above his eye and knew he must've put up one hellava fight this time. "Still have my back?"

"We're partners, Sammy so I will always have your back just like you're the only one I want covering mine," Dean replied, relaxing now that he knew his brother's fever had broken and would slowly begin to heal. "Just so we're good with you knowing that I'm also always gonna be your big brother and will always look out for you, no matter who I have to kill. We good?"

"Yeah, we're good," Sam yawned, willing to accept that deal since he knew he wasn't willing to go through this alone and he knew they'd been the only support each other had had for too many years to stop now. "Bobby mad?"

Knowing mad wouldn't begin to cover what the older man was, Dean merely shrugged and let the fingers of his one hand card back through hair that had just recently become long again but he chose not to mention that. "Yeah, so he decided to work a case with us because he says we're grounded and needs an adult."

Sam found that funny for some reason as he shifted like he used to as a child when he'd be sick and Dean would stay with him to begin to fall asleep but didn't miss the addition of Dean's jacket to the blanket used to keep him warm. "What…case?"

Waiting until he knew Sam was nearly asleep, Dean let his head rest back on the headboard and closed his own eyes. "Oh, something up in New Jersey that involves…camping…and a mythological monster."

"Oh…" Sam murmured, sleep coming fast when he chose to offer one final small complaint. "I hate camping, Dean."

"Yep, so do I, little brother," Dean smiled, staying still until he was certain Sam was done for the count then eased him down on the pillows but chose to stay sitting beside him rather than kick the crap off the other bed because no matter how fractured their lives might be right then, he still knew his brother well enough to know that sick or not, exhausted or not…Sam would have nightmares after this and he'd be with his brother through them. "G'night…bitch."

Knowing it had been a long time since he'd used that nearly forgotten term of affection, he wasn't expecting a reply and was slowly slipping into a light sleep himself when he felt Sam slip to his stomach next to him and heard it.


Smiling, Dean fall to sleep knowing he'd wake up before Sam's first nightmare and content that no matter how big or grown his little brother got that he'd always look after him…and rip the lungs off the next person, thing, demon or Devil who tried to screw with Sammy.

The End