Beyond this Illusion
Summary: 'It's time to be a big brother again.' / Sick!Sammy, big-bro!Dean / Set in early season 4, when the bromance was still there but at a bare minimum... before it all went kaboom in season 5. :(
Disclaimers: Deanie, Sammy, minemineminemineeeee. I wish. But if they were, Sammy's bangs would still be falling all over his eyes and Dean would... wait, Deanie's awesome the way he is. ^^ But... *sniffs and curls up in little SPN corner* Not mine. Neither is 'Carry on my Wayward Son', which is where the title's from.
A long-imbedded sixth sense wakes me up as soon as my ears pick up the labored breathing from the other bed. My Sam-attuned mind registers what's going on before the rest of me is really awake, and before I know it I'm rolling out of bed, ready to find, assess and fix the problem.
It comes with the whole big bro package.
Well, finding it isn't so hard. Not when the problem is my brother huddled up under his blankets, shivering like it's ice cold.
I curse and crouch by his side, then cuss some more when I see the kid's sweaty and pale pallor, his face just peeking out from under the heavy blankets. How long has he been like this?
"Sammy?" I reach out a hand to his forehead and flinch, because, God damn it, his temperature feels high enough to roast a freaking chicken. His eyes are kinda hazy but he seems to be focused on me a bit, which is good, even though he looks all confused and dazed. I try again for a response. "Sam? Hey, dude, you with me?" My hand slides up to move the sweaty strands of hair away from his eyes while I talk and it seems to soothe him a little. Which so isn't why I did it.
A bit of clarity lights up behind the haziness and those green eyes are suddenly wide and innocent and seven years old again. The slurred and lost-sounding "De'n?" that escapes his mouth just adds to the turmoil of deja vu and flashbacks, and God, it's like I'm twelve again and the only thing that matters in the world is look after Sammy, and those demons and angels and Hell can all get screwed right now for all I care.
It's time to be a big brother again.
I pat Sam on the head once. "Yeah kiddo, it's me. Hang in there, alright? I'm gunna go grab some meds and stuff." But before I can get up a hand snakes out from under the covers and latches onto my shirt and - oh man, it's the eyes now, too.
"No!" It's a half panicked denial, half sob, and damn it all if that didn't just kill me a little inside, especially with that darned lost-sick-puppy expression. "Don't... don't go." Sammy's hold on my shirt is getting painfully tight, so I sit back down and pry his fingers off carefully, but he just grabs my wrist instead. I let him, though it's gunna be a killer getting him to let go so I can get that medicine.
"Dean?" The shaky whisper makes me look at Sam again, and he looks like he's fighting it off, trying to keep his eyes open. The sweat's getting in his eyes so I wipe it away with my sleeve, then nudge his cheek lightly when he looks like he's losing the battle.
"Hey man, stay with me, alright?"
Sam forces his eyes open again but he looks even more dazed than before, and it takes him a while to focus on me properly. When he does, though, the tight furrow between his 'brows disappears and he relaxes. "Dean..." It's a relieved sigh, like he wasn't expecting me to be here.
"Yeah Sammy, I'm here," I reply, and I'm still trying to find my footing here because, honestly? After coming back from Hell, being Sammy's big brother wasn't exactly something I've been feeling all that much. Not with the barriers between us now, the lies and secrets and confessions, and - oh yeah, try the upcoming apocalypse.
But forget all that now. Sammy's sick, and I need to take care of him. At least that's something that makes sense, because God knows nothing else does these days.
"'S cold," Sam's mumble snaps me back, and that's definitely his fever talking because with the air conditioner on, I'm warm in just a T-shirt.
"Right," I mutter, looking around. He's got three blankets piled on him already and I really need to get a cold wet rag. "Mind letting go for a moment so I can grab a few things?"
That wakes him up. Fast. Sam's eyes snap wide open and they're all panicked, and his grip is super tight now. Great. "No-no, no Dean, don't go-"
"Whoa, calm down, Sam." He stops and blinks at me, and dammit, his lip's trembling now too. And I'm feeling darn hopeless 'cause I don't know what the hell's wrong with him, other than the obvious fever. "I'm not gunna go anywhere, okay?" I say quietly, tightening my fingers around his wrist briefly. "Just gunna grab the meds and some water. Alright?"
It takes him a few seconds, but eventually Sam calms down and nods once, reluctantly relinquishing his grip, and it kinda reminds me of when I first came back, how he didn't want to let go after the hug. And that same look that's in his eyes? Like he's scared I'm gunna disappear as soon as I'm out of sight? That kills me inside, 'cause Sam shouldn't be the one scared of that happening. I don't want him to be scared of that happening, 'cause there is no freaking way in Hell - pun fully intended - I'm gunna leave my brother out here alone again. No way.
But I get up and grab the stuff quickly, feeling Sam's eyes follow me around the room until I grab a chair and get back to his side. By now he looks like he's struggling to stay awake, and I don't want him falling asleep now in case the fever escalates. So I nudge him as I'm putting the wet cloth on his forehead. "Don't go to sleep, Sam. Focus on me, just stay awake, okay?"
He mumbles an 'okay' (he's always a lot more obedient when he's sick) and opens his bleary eyes, watching me go through the medicines in the bag. I get a capsule for the fever and sit him up, propping the pillows up behind his back, and help him swallow it with the water. He finishes half the bottle and looks a bit more awake after, sitting back and blinking, trying to get his bearings. I replace the cloth on his forehead, wiping the sweat off the rest of his face, before propping my feet up on his bed and crossing my hands behind my head to watch him.
"How you feeling?"
Sam frowns a little and leans his head back against the headboard of the bed, shutting his eyes. "Peachy." Which he obviously doesn't judging by the pained wince that follows.
It makes me laugh in surprise though, because I haven't heard Sammy crack a joke in... well, ages. "Dude, that's my line," I grin, nudging him lightly with a foot. Sam cracks his eyes open to throw me a weak grin, but doesn't reply. The grin's enough.
I go through the next half hour keeping the cloth damp and making sure he doesn't get too hot or cold and sorting out pain killers for the headache that's sure to worsen, talking about random stuff to keep him awake, and damn it feels good to do something so normal again. Something instinctive. I've been raised doing this - this, watching out for my kid brother (who, okay, isn't exactly 'kid' material anymore, but - details) and making sure he's okay. This is something I can do, and I can do it right. There's no messing up where Sammy's concerned, I can't afford that. The guy's all I've got left, and even he's slipping away, changing since I went to Hell - and I don't think I wanna see the end result if that goes on.
But screw that. I can't do anything about what's happened or is gunna happen yet, but I can deal with what's in front of me now.
I measure his fever and grimace at the high temperature. Any longer and the guy would've been hallucinating. I lean back so I can look him full in the face. "What the hell, dude? Why didn't you tell me you were sick?"
Sam's eyes drop and he starts fiddling with his hands and the blanket, a nervous habit he picked up years ago. A shoulder rose in a shrug. "It wasn't that bad."
Oh, you've gotta be kidding me... "'Wasn't that bad?'" I nearly growl. "So burning up like a furnace, shivering under a pile of blankets like you're buried in snow, damn near feverish enough to start hallucinating, and you're telling me it wasn't that bad? What the hell, Sam?"
That gets a wince, then the defiant look's back, and damn, I know that look way too well. It's almost like the one he gave Dad all those years ago when he was about to argue about being old enough to hunt alone, then that he wanted to go to college and nothing could stop him. But these days? It's mixed with this... determination, a fierce independence, like he's used to getting what he wants, how he wants it. And I'm not talking about candy here.
It's one of the changed looks I had to get used to seeing on Sam's face after those months he was alone. I already don't like it.
"I've faced a lot worse, Dean," he says determinedly, even though his voice is still a tad slurred and he's not a hundred percent focused on my face. "A little fever isn't anything compared to what I had to deal with the last few months, and I handled those well enough alone. I was fine."
God freaking damn it. I have to fight not to blow my top, because he's feverish and probably doesn't even know everything that's coming out of his mouth at the moment.
Well, that's what I'm telling myself.
"Sam, that was then," I tell him calmly. As calm as I can get with words like 'faced a lot worse' and 'handled those well enough alone' coming out of Sam's mouth turning in my head. Is the guy trying to tick me off? "I don't care if you faced freaking kamikaze warplanes alone and came out blasting them off like Rambo. You're sick, I wanna damn know about it."
"Dammit Dean, I'm not six years old anymore!" Oh look, a scowl. Looks like a sulky pout though, with his bangs falling all over his forehead and green eyes all bleary.
"Think I know that, Sasquatch," I mutter. "At six you were a freaking midget."
It's a lot easier to joke. Sam does enough angsting and serious deep thinking for both of us, then some.
Mr Super-Angst sighs and shakes his head, before leaning his head back again and letting his eyes slide shut. He doesn't make it the whole way though, before groaning and lurching forward, grabbing his head with his hands.
I catch him before he tumbles out of bed, all disorientated. "Headache, huh?" A soft almost-whimper escapes his throat and Sammy leans his head onto my shoulder, one hand digging into his skull, the other taking a vice-like grip on my forearm from the pain. That's a Sam thing. When he gets a fever, he's attacked by killer headaches.
I reach over with my free hand and grab the painkillers off the table, the other hand finding its spot in the kid's too-long hair. I don't have to say anything, just shove them under his nose. He lets go of my arm - whoa, circulation - to take them, then swallows them dry. A shaky breath is released and he sort of deflates, dropping an arm over mine and drawing closer for warmth. I have to shift to sit on the edge of his bed instead and the kid still folds up against me like when he was six, face still burrowed somewhere between my shoulderbone and chest like he did when the headaches got seriously bad. Even size didn't change that. Sammy just folds in and shrinks when he's sick like this.
"You gunna throw up?" I ask, keeping my voice low. A shake of the head, then a soft sigh.
"De'n?" It's so quiet if he wasn't so close I would've missed it.
Sammy's quiet, and I wonder if he fell asleep, but then he moves away a bit to peer up at me through those bangs, eyes looking more innocent and vulnerable than I've seen in ages. "Bein' alone... it sucked. A lot." Then his eyes slide shut and he lets out a long breath, like he's been holding that in all that time. His head goes back to rest on my shoulder and he goes limp, breath deepening.
I let out my own breath, resting my chin on the top of his head and automatically slipping my fingers through it. "I know, kiddo. I'm sorry."
And I can't go back to fix it, no matter how much I wish I could sometimes, because thinking about Sam going months having to learn to fight by himself, to get used to not having someone watching his back... Well, over two decades of keeping my kid brother protected from stuff like that makes it tough to live with. But we have to live with it, and its concequences. And 'cause we're freaking Winchesters, we'll manage.
Somehow, but we will. Because we've got each other's backs through this thing, no matter how many fights and arguments come out of it. It'll take more than a freaking apocalypse to change that.
A/N - ...*waves tentatively* Hi. Was that good? Or should I stick to third person, past tense, cuz I think this is the first time I try something like this. O.O I like getting in Dean's head too much. :P
This was inspired by my friend (hiiiii dodo! :D *waves enthusiastically*) because, dude, the amount of times you mentioned how depressing and angsty and depressing and non-bromancey and depressing and... lacking in bromance season 5 is killed me. And I haven't even watched it yet! D: So I thought, dammit all, season 4's lacking awesome Winchester-bromance too, so Ima do a cool fic where Sammy's not being a jerk and I wanna punch him, and Deanie's not all broken (*sniff*) and tired, and he's being awesome and acting like a big bro again cuz he hasn't done that in aaaaages. ^^ :D *heart*
Sooo. This is the result. And then I put foreshadowing at the end. Unintentionally. Cuz I wrote that, then I realised - god dammit, the freaking apocalypse does kinda change that. D: But yeah. Reviews muchly appreciated, of course... and - this is mah third Supernatural fic! :D *feels accomplished* Had to say it. I feel awesome and cool and stuff writing SPN. Cuz it's Supernatural. And Sammy. And Dean. Winchester. And it's epicness and bros and awesomesauce and ... and... all rad and intense and I'm running out words (hairy, too :P) and yeah. ^-^
SPN is the best thing in the world.
I rest my case.
(P.S. Review. Thanks. xD)
P.S.S. Ignore my ramblings. Um. I forgot what I was gunna say. Sorry. Kinda hyper on SPN right now... :P *shuts up*