Cas is, quite literally, the worst patient in the world. At first, Dean was inclined to just let him live life as normal and take the occasional pill for a headache. He only had a cold; it wasn't fucking pneumonia or anything.

Dean forgot that Cas has never been sick before and he didn't know to let him or Sam know when he started feeling worse. He doesn't have pneumonia, exactly—Dean has had enough scares with Sam to know what a pneumonia-ridden patient looks like—but he definitely has something more than a cold.

"We're in the middle of a hunt, Dean," Cas protests as Dean pushes him back down on the bed and drags the comforter back up to his chest. "People are dying."

"Yeah, and I don't want you to end up being one of them because you're too stupid to know your own limits," Dean tells him, sticking the thermometer in Cas' mouth when he tries to talk again. "I need to know if you need to go to a hospital or not."

Cas shakes his head resolutely, staring down Dean murderously. Dean tries to take him seriously, he really does, but Cas has bedhead and puffy eyes and there's a fucking thermometer sticking out of his mouth for god's sake, he can't really be expected to believe this guy could kill him with his bare hands.

Sam opens the door while Dean is staring Cas down. "Hey, man," he says as he checks his watch. Ten more seconds and he'll check the thermometer. "They have chicken noodle?"

"Yeah, chicken noodle and tomato," Sam says, setting a plastic bag on the counter while he shrugs his jacket off. "You got any new leads on the case?"

"There's an article pulled up on the laptop," Dean says. One hundred one degrees. Definitely a fever, but nothing that requires an IV. "Stay here, Cas. I'm gonna make soup."

"I don't need—" Cas snaps, but Dean levels a glare at him. Cas shuts up with a pout on his face.

Dean sighs as he turns away. He's not upset that he has to take care of Cas at all, but it's true that they're in the middle of a case right now, and it's not the normal ghost or demon fare. Dean suspects a witch, but Sam has his bets placed heavily on a Pagan god, but they don't have enough to go on yet to be sure.

"This doesn't sound like gods or witches," Sam says, dragging a hand through his hair.

"I know," Dean says, digging his knife into the can of soup. "It almost sounds like a demon again, but we haven't seen any traces of sulfur."

"And the guy who survived didn't report any of the usual signs of possession," Sam says. He frowns as he looks up at Dean. "Do you think it still could be?"

"No," Cas mumbles. Dean snaps his head around, but Cas hasn't moved. "A demon wouldn't be this sloppy."

"That's true," Sam says.

The room lapses into silence while Sam clicks around online and Dean stirs the soup. Cas sniffles pathetically and Dean can't help but wince in sympathy. There really is nothing more than being sick on a hunt, when it feels like people are depending on you but you physically can't help them. He understands the feeling, he does, but the faster Cas heals, the sooner he can be back to hunting, as opposed to being a sneezing mess.

Cas eats his soup with no amount of graciousness, but Dean stares him down until the bowl is empty. Cas' eyelids are drooping anyway, exhaustion settling into his features, and Dean knows he's not going to be awake for much longer.

He does his best to make sure Cas is warm, tossing another blanket over his shivering body. "Go to sleep, Cas," he murmurs, running a hand over Cas' head while Sam is distracted. "The hunt will still be here when you wake up."

Cas mumbles something that Dean can't make out, but his eyes slide shut anyway, and Dean allows a fond smile to creep over his face. Cas has taken to being a human like a fish takes to being left out in the air, but he's learning to cope. Sleeping is his favorite part, he says, because he's never had the luxury of having a silent mind for so long.

Sometimes Cas says things that are meant to be offhand comments, but they make Dean sad.

The rest of the day passes in the usual confusion of a hunt. Dean heads out to interview a witness, who doesn't tell him anything useful, and on the way back to the motel, Sam calls and tells him to pick up dinner.

The diner has homemade blueberry pie. Dean ponders for a good minute over it, considering his options before he finally decides that there's no harm in taking a whole one back. Blueberry is Cas' favorite kind of pie, and sometimes Sam can even be persuaded to have a slice or two. Dean tells himself it's just because he wants to eat a lot of pie and has nothing to do with the way Cas' eyes will probably light up when he sees it.

Cas, however, is still asleep when Dean returns, snuffling peacefully into his pillow. He looks better already as Dean lays a hand on his forehead. Still burning up, but he doesn't look quite so exhausted anymore.

Shifting around, Cas grumbles and blinks his eyes open. "Dean?" he asks, voice cracking.

"Shh, angel," Dean murmurs. "You thirsty?"

Cas nods, closing his eyes again, and Dean pets his hair once before turning to go to the sink.

Sam is watching him with a raised eyebrow. Dean scowls back as he gets a glass of water and returns to Cas' bedside. He doesn't have to explain himself.

Cas' hands tremble when Dean helps sit him up and places the glass of water in his hands. He looks so fucking anguished as the glass tips warningly, and Dean catches it, going down on one knee to help Cas bring it to his lips.

He watches Cas take sips at a time, and it's as if Sam has melted out of the room. Dean smiles a little, when Cas finally leans back and shakes his head at the water, and he helps him lay back down.

"There's pie for when you're feeling better," he whispers into Cas' ear as he pulls the blankets back up. "Blueberry, even."

Blinking, Cas looks at him, and understanding glimmers through his glazed eyes. He sighs like it's meant to be a word or a phrase and turns his head slightly into his pillow.

He's much easier to take care of when he's half-asleep, and Dean backs away with a sappy smile on his face.

title from fall out boy's "disloyal order of water buffaloes".

to the anon on tumblr who requested sick!cas and dean taking care of him.