PNEUMONIA BLUES

Summary: Sam has been hit with pneumonia but luckily has a big brother to take care of him. Or has he? What happens when Sam wakes up and Dean is nowhere to be found? Some sick!Sam and awesome!big-brother!Dean. Dean is 16, Sam is 12.

Author's note: This story is dedicated to my dear friend KKBELVIS for being so kindhearted and for encouraging me to make a pneumonia-Sam story after I've been fighting pneumonia myself recently. This one is for you, darling. I hope you'll like it ;) – Elisa.

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"Sometimes you have to get sicker before you can get better."

- Jeannette Walls, "The Glass Castle".

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Sam was crying. That was the first thing Dean noticed – even before he was fully out of the pouring rain and inside the old cabin they were currently situated in outside Littlefork, Minnesota. Scratch that; Sam was full on sobbing, and the older brother quickly dropped his supplies on a table, pried off his wet leather jacket and hurried to his distressed little brother's side.

"Hey hey, shh." Dean shushed, carded a hand through Sam's sweaty bangs as the twelve-year-old continued to cry, and gently cupped Sam's face while speaking in a soft voice. "Sammy, it's okay. I'm here now. I'm here."

Sam's eyes were clenched shut. His face was colorless – except for the flushed cheeks that confirmed his still climbing fever – and he was practically drenched in sweat. The latter had happened during the very short amount of time Dean had left the kid to pick up some supplies for his sick brother, and Dean cursed himself for having been forced to leave Sam at all.

"Man.. You're a mess." Dean mumbled with a sigh and removed the damp covers from Sam's shaky form before grasping Sam's shoulders and gently moving the younger boy into a sitting position.

Tears were still making their way down Sam's cheeks and Dean pulled his hand into his sleeve and used the piece of fabric to wipe the wetness off Sam's face.

"Sam, it's okay." Dean told Sam once again and gave his brother's shoulder a reassuring squeeze as Sam finally opened his teary and fever-glassy eyes to look at him.

"Dean." Sam whimpered – then coughed hard and wet; the sound coming from deep down his chest, making the older brother wince in sympathy.

"Easy. Easy." Dean soothed and rubbed a hand up and down Sam's back while his brother got through the coughing fit.

Dean then pulled Sam's sweat-soaked shirt over the kid's head and dropped it to the floor before getting started on the rest of Sam's clothes as well.

"C-cold." Sam whined in his congested voice and weakly tried to get away from his big brother but Dean easily held his brother in place.

"I know Sam, but you're gonna get sicker if you stay in those wet clothes." Dean said and quickly picked up a new pair of sweatpants and a shirt for Sam before helping him into them.

As soon as Sam was wearing the clean and dry clothes, Dean spared his little brother the efforts of walking and instead picked the kid up and placed him on the other one of the two beds, the cabin was equipped with, before draping a blanket over Sam's still shaking form.

"No sleeping yet." Dean ordered, then went to the table and shook out a bottle of antibiotics from a brown paper bag.

The older Winchester brother carefully read the instructions on the bottle even though he knew practically everything there was to know about the drug - he just couldn't be too careful when Sam's health was on the line. After administering the right dose, Dean took the pills and a bottle of water back to Sam, sat down on the edge of the bed and hooked an arm behind Sam's back before helping the sick boy up.

"Sam, I need you to take these." Dean said and showed Sam the pills in his hand. "It will help you feel better."

"Can't.." Sam said and shot Dean a pleading look. "They won't keep down."

"They will." Dean promised, not wishing for a repetition of Sam's failed attempts to keep down the Tylenol Dean had given him earlier. The younger boy was starting to run out of clean clothes to wear.

"You can do it." Dean encouraged and Sam reluctantly gave in and accepted the pills from his big brother.

While Sam swallowed the pills down with the water Dean had offered, the older brother closed his hand around Sam's shaky one to steady the water bottle, and then removed the bottle when Sam was done. The youngest Winchester swallowed hard a couple of times and Dean's eyes widened when Sam's hand suddenly shot up to cover his mouth.

"Shit, shit, shit." Dean muttered and was about to reach for a bucket but then let out a breath of relief when Sam merely started coughing and not vomiting.

Dean's concern spiked again, however, as Sam continued to cough and cough like would there never be an end of it – the twelve-year-old's face turning red in the process and leaving him gasping for breath in between every cough.

"Breathe Sammy. Come on." Dean urged while patting Sam's back.

It had been the harsh coughing, spit-up phlegm and wheezing breathing that in the end had convinced Dean that Sam had caught himself a round of pneumonia instead of the flu, Dean had first expected Sam to have. They had settled in the old cabin for a wendigo hunt in the area with their dad, but after a day of searching the woods in pouring rain without finding the creature, Sam had started feeling unwell. Their dad had been anything but happy about the turn of events but Dean knew that most of his father's disapproval was due to frustration of the unsuccessful day in the woods and not disappointment in his youngest for getting sick.

"This is just what we needed." John Winchester had yapped with sarcasm after Dean had sent his shivering and feverish little brother into the bathroom to take a warm shower.

"Dad, I've already told you that Sam needs a new jacket. The one he has isn't warm enough." Dean had said.

John had sighed and had paced a bit back and forth in the cabin while pinching the bridge of his nose. He had then looked at his oldest.

"We still have a hunt to finish." His father had said. "There're innocent people's lives at risk here."

Sam's voice calling Dean's name from the bathroom had interrupted their discussion and when Dean had returned ten minutes later, one thing had been clear.

"Sam is definitely sick." Dean had said.

"Great." John had sighed and had then washed a hand down his face. "You have to handle it, Dean. I'm gonna finish the hunt."

Dean was torn out of his thoughts when Sam's coughing fit finally ended and the kid's head came to a rest against Dean's shoulder while he struggled to catch his wheezing breath.

"You good?" Dean asked and once again wiped tears off Sam's face when Sam nodded his head.

"I don't wanna be sick anymore." Sam said in a hoarse voice.

"Believe me bro, I don't want you to be sick anymore either." Dean said and eased Sam back down under the blanket. "Get some rest kiddo. I'm not going anywhere."

"Promise?" Sam asked.

"Promise." Dean said and tucked the blanket closer around Sam's small form.

Dean leaned back against the headboard and smiled wryly as Sam inched closer to his older brother – heat seeping into Dean's thigh as one of Sam's fever-flushed cheeks came to rest against it. Dean listened to Sam's ragged breathing – the sound mixed with the drumming of rain drops hitting the roof of the cabin – and wished he could take on Sam's pneumonia himself so that the kid didn't have to suffer. John Winchester never got sick and neither did Dean but somehow Sam always ended up catching sickness for all three of them. It wasn't fair.

Dean absent-mindedly rubbed a hand back and forth between Sam's shoulder blades while silently wishing for the antibiotics to kick in and do their work soon, and the oldest Winchester brother's eyelids eventually started drooping as the drumming on the roof and Sam's soft snores lulled him into sleep.

Dean awoke with a start when the tunes of his ringing cell phone tore him out of blissful sleep. While fishing out the phone from his pocket, Dean glanced at Sam and nodded in satisfaction as the younger brother stayed oblivious to the world around him.

"Dad?" Dean said in a low voice as he answered his phone and walked away from the bed.

"Dean, I need your help." His father said on the other end of the line.

"Did something happen?" Dean asked, knowing all too well how viciously smart wendigos could be.

"Turns out there are two of them." John answered. "I took down one but the other one is still out there. Meet me at the lay-by on Route 71 in ten."

"But I can't leave Sam." Dean said. "He's still sick and I promised him that.."

"I don't care what you promised, Dean! This is important and Sam will be safe in the cabin." John said.

"But Dad.." Dean began.

"Dammit Dean! That's an order!" John shouted into the phone. "I can't protect the victims and take down the other wendigo at the same time - it's a two-man job! See you in ten."

"Dad? Dad?" Dean called but the oldest Winchester had already hung up his phone. "Son of a bitch!"

Dean closed his phone and paced the room back and forth for a few moments, knowing his dad was right but hating it at the same time. How could he leave behind his sick little brother? How could he leave Sam when he had promised the kid not to go anywhere?

The older brother went back to Sam's bedside and watched his sleeping brother for a few seconds, then palmed Sam's forehead to check up on the fever, before making sure Sam had everything he needed within reach if he happened to wake up while Dean was away. The big brother debated with himself whether or not to wake up Sam to tell him he was leaving, but in the end decided to let his brother sleep. If Dean was lucky, Sam would continue to sleep and not even notice he'd been away.

"I'll be back as soon as possible, Sammy." Dean whispered, left a note next to the twelve-year-old in case he did wake up, and then hesitated for a second before placing a kiss on top of Sam's floppy hair. No one was around to judge him for that one and Sam would never know about it either.

As Dean put on his jacket, walked outside in the still pouring rain and closed the door behind him, he was unaware of the wind from outside that blew through the room and took away the note he'd left for Sam – hiding it underneath the other bed before the door clicked shut.

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Sam was burning – the warmth consuming him like a blanket of fire, trying to suffocate him. Sam struggled against it with weak movements, moved his head from side to side and whimpered as his head started pounding.

"Dean." He called in a congested voice, then coughed harshly and spit up some phlegm before slowly blinking his eyes open.

Everything seemed blurry at first; all mixed together in a big blob of colors and wetness. Sam rubbed at his burning eyes and things slowly started forming into solidness – although everything still looked a bit twisted and dilated. Sam felt nauseous, his head at least three sizes too big and he got dizzy as he shifted underneath the blanket that was covering him.

"Dean." Sam called again. His forehead wrinkled in confusion and worry as Dean didn't answer his call. "Dean?"

Sam pushed himself up on wobbly arms, then moaned as his head started hammering away with the change of position and scouted the surroundings of the vacant cabin. Where was Dean? The younger Winchester brother searched his brain for any clues as to where Dean could be that he might have forgotten in his current state, but no matter how much he tried, all Sam could remember was the fact that Dean had promised he wouldn't go anywhere. Dean always kept his promises to his little brother.. so where was he?

"Dean!" Sam called as loud as his hoarse voice allowed him to do and bit his lower lip in concern as no one answered.

A single lamp in the cabin was on which was a good thing because it was dark outside and Sam wouldn't have been able to see a thing if it had been left off. He knew that Dean was the only person who could have been considerate enough to do that for him and also having left the bottle of water next to the bed that Sam reached for with a shaky hand. As Sam let the cold liquid sooth his aching throat, he realized with increasing worry that Dean wouldn't have left the cabin without telling him about it or at least leave a note behind, which could only mean that something had happened. Had Dad been hurt on the hunt? Had Dean rushed out into the night too – only to have been attacked by the wendigo himself?

Sam's heart hammered in perfect synchronize with his pounding head as he placed his unsteady feet on the cold floor and pushed himself off the bed. Shivers and vertigo attacked him in an instance and Sam grabbed the edge of the bed to steady himself for a moment.

"Gotta find Dean." Sam muttered as he stepped forward – the fever haze surrounding his brain making him feel like was he walking through a pile of cotton.

Sam found his jacket that was still soaked through from their day in the forest, as well as his boots that happened to be in the same condition. It took the twelve-year-old some time to make his fingers cooperate enough to zip up the jacket, and he was already shaking of coldness by the time he managed to get it done. Sam wheezed and coughed and wheezed some more before he finally pried open the door and stepped into the still pouring rain.

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The hunt had taken longer than Dean had hoped and by the time he drove back to the cabin, he felt restless and on edge when he thought about how long Sam had been lying alone in that cabin; sick and vulnerable. Their father had stayed behind to cover up the evidence from the wendigos, and he hadn't contradicted Dean the slightest when his oldest had rushed off as soon as the wendigo was dead and gone. John had instead nodded his approval - after all, it was in fact Dean's job to look after the kid.

When Dean pulled up the Impala in front of the cabin, he couldn't help but get a clenching feeling in his stomach. He couldn't put a finger on what it was, but something didn't feel right when he looked at the cabin. And then it hit him like a sledgehammer; the door to the cabin was left ajar and Dean knew he had shut it thoroughly before he'd left in the first place!

"Shit!" He exclaimed, ripped the car door open and ran as fast as he could to the cabin, burst through the door and panicked the moment he found Sam's bed empty.

"Sam!" Dean called in a frantic voice, searched the main room and the bathroom with the same result; Sam was nowhere to be found. "Sam! Saaaaam!"

Dean carded his hands through his spiky hair in a frustrated way, then froze on the spot as he noticed that Sam's jacket and boots were gone.

"Dammit, Sammy! What have you done, you idiot?" Dean mumbled, hurried back to the Impala, pried open the trunk and pulled out a flashlight and his gun before slamming the trunk shut again.

He placed the gun in the waistline in the back of his jeans and clicked on the flashlight before letting the beam slide across the muddy ground in front of the cabin. Dean's heart skipped a beat as he came by small footprints that had already been filled up with water and which could only belong to his little brother.

"Hang on, Sammy." Dean said as he followed the footsteps through the rain and mud.

It didn't take Dean more than four minutes to locate his brother but the older brother was convinced he had been on the edge of a stroke when his eyes had caught sight of Sam's still form on the muddy ground.

"Oh God.. Sam.. Sam!" Dean shouted as he slid to his knees beside his brother and pulled Sam into his lap before wiping at the mud that covered half of Sam's face.

Dean let out the breath he didn't know he'd been holding when Sam weakly coughed and opened his eyes to tiny slits.

"Dean." Sam wheezed and coughed yet again but he fortunately didn't seem to be hurt. "Wh..where were you?"

"It doesn't matter – I'm here now." Dean said and pulled off his leather jacket before wrapping it around Sam's shaky body. "Come on, let's get you back inside. I've got you."

Dean picked up his brother and felt grateful for the fact that Sam was still so small for his age as he simply let Sam wrap his arms around Dean's neck and his legs around Dean's waist - like was the younger boy still a toddler – and held his little brother tight. Dean then started walking back towards the cabin and tightened his hold of his brother even more as Sam buried deeper into his big brother's warmth.

"What were you thinking, you little moron, leaving the bed like that while still being sick?" Dean chided and didn't expect an answer before continuing his rant. "You could have been hurt or killed! Don't think I wouldn't have found a way to kick your ass from here to beyond if that had happened!"

Sam didn't say anything. He just let Dean keep on scolding and cursing while he let himself be consumed by the safeness and protectiveness of his big brother while the rain continued to pour down around them. The youngest Winchester brother knew that their dad would be furious when he found out that Sam had left the cabin on his own and he also knew that he probably just extended his pneumonia with several more days, but in that moment he couldn't bring himself to care. Dean was alright and that was all that mattered.

"If I also catch pneumonia after this, Sam, you're history! You hear me?" Dean said and Sam smiled into his brother's neck.

Dean could threaten him as much as he wanted; Sam knew the true meaning behind the words… and he loved his brother just as much.

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THE END.

Feedback is my drug! ;)

-Elisa.