"Here." Careful to avoid the broken shards on the floor from the glass Sam had knocked down earlier, Dean leans over the counter to hand the (plastic) bowl of tomato and rice soup to his brother.
"Thaygs," Sam says, his voice notably stuffy as he sits down, hands shaking around the bowl. Every day since the second trial something else had seemed to go- first his stamina, then his coordination. Now it's his immune system, crumpling under the weight of it all and leaving him vulnerable to all kinds of diseases and illnesses. In this case, it's a cold.
Dean slips into his room while Sam fidgets with his soup and reappears moments later with the comforter off his bed. Gritting his teeth, he drops it over Sam's hunched shoulders. He'll take any dirty glances Sam throws his way if it means that the kid'll stop shivering. "Listen, I'm gonna go to the store," Dean says, hand out like he's prepared to catch Sam should he tumble out of the chair. "I want you to stay here, maybe catch a nap. We can look for Kevin some more tonight."
"Deed," Sam says, tired and unable to pronounce his brother's name through everything clogging his sinuses, "I'b fide."
"When you put a 'd' at the end of 'fine'," Dean says, not amused, "you're not fine."
It's already hard enough arguing with Dean on a good day, but now with Sam too degraded to get more than two articulated words out without dissolving into a coughing fit, it proves impossible. Dean heads out and Sam sits at the table and curls in on himself, trying to focus on the lore books in front of him.
When Dean gets back, after setting a bottle of orange juice and a still-in-the-package thermometer on the table, he tosses a soft package to Sam, who- surprisingly- manages to catch it. "What is this?"
Sam does, weary enough now to look like an exhausted mother on Christmas morning. Ripping off the cardboard, he reveals a large piece of fleecy fabric with Darth Vader printed on the front, two appendages dangling from the top. "What is this?" he repeats.
"This is the future, Sammy," Dean says, sounding cheerier than he actually is. "It's a blanket… with sleeves."
"You got be a Sduggie?"
"Now you can goof around on your laptop and still keep warm."
"I dod't goof aroud," says Sam, tossing the Snuggie over the back of his chair. When Dean's making dinner, though, he looks up to see Sam wrapped up in the material, giant hands poking out the ends of the sleeves.
Around ten, Dean starts trying to get Sam to go to sleep. "Time for bed, Sasquatch," he says, coming around the chair to lift Sam up from the elbows. Sam beats a feeble hand against him, mumbling something about wanting to stay up, but Dean walks him to his room, Snuggie and all, and dumps him on the bed. "Goodnight, Sam," he sighs, marching back to the library.
Approximately half an hour later, Sam stumbles back into the library, dragging the Snuggie behind him like an extremely overgrown toddler. "Sam, I told you to go to sleep."
"You said we'd look for Kevid todight."
"That's what I'm doin' right now," Dean promises, pointing to the laptop in front of him. "Get some sleep, bitch." He expects Sam to call him a jerk, but all he hears is that hacking wet cough.
Sam gets up three times after that before Dean finally storms into the room with his little brother in tow, kicking aside piles of tissues and maneuvering him onto the bed.
"You need your sleep, kiddo," Dean says in a softer voice than when he'd been yelling at Sam to get back in his room. Careful not to displace his brother's limp form, he perches on the edge of the mattress and reaches out to push Sam's hair off of his forehead. "Remember what happened last time?" The look Sam gives him makes Dean want to go back in time and stop him from killing Crowley's dog in the first place.
"Hurts," says Sam, sounding pathetic.
"Everythig." Air struggles through his congested nose and lists in and out of his mouth, and Dean swears he can hear Sam's chest rattling.
"Always worse at night," Dean says, which is something Sammy used to tell him. "Just get some shut-eye, it'll be better in the morning." Reclining back against the wall and stretching his legs out on the bed, Dean wraps an arm around Sam's shoulders and lets his little brother lean into him, hoping he can help Sam sleep easier.
"Deed?" says Sam. "Rebeber whed we were kids ad you'd tell be stories?"
"You remember that?"
"I thought you were better thad Dr. Seuss."
Despite everything, the corner of Dean's mouth turns up in a smile. "Sammy, do you want me to tell you a story?" He takes it as a "yes" when Sam's eyes flick up to find him, looking younger than he remembers them being this morning. "Okay," says Dean, tightening the arm that's around Sam and skimming his brain for a story. "There was once a brave knight who lived in a castle far away. His big brothers didn't think much of him but his little brothers looked up to him. And yet, it was the friends he made when he left-"
"Is this a story about Cas?" Sam breaks in, sounding annoyed.
"Sobething else. Sobething made up."
"Fine," Dean sighs, eyes roving the ceiling. "Once upon a time there was a lonely black kitten-"
"This sounds like another Cas story."
"Shut up, Fred Savage." With a huff, Dean tries to think up something else, but there's too much doom and gloom raving around in his mind to work up anything remotely comforting. "Okay. How's this- a long, long time ago…" He feels Sam seem to settle against his side, and smiles. "I can still remember… how that music used to make me smi-"
Finally, Sam gets fed up and tosses Dean's arm off of him, shoving off the bed. "This isd't workig." The bags weighing his eyes down look even worse in the darkness.
"Alright, fine," says Dean, rolling off the bed himself and disturbing another pile of tissues. "I've got another idea. Grab your damn Snuggie and come outside with me."
The Impala comes to life the way she always does, with a groan and then a growl, and that familiar rattle of Legos in the vent. Sam, in the passenger seat, looks like a ghost with his pallor and the sleeved blanket swirling around him. Dean makes sure the vents are aimed at Sam, blasting him with warm air, and then he finds the nearest soft rock station and starts to drive.
They don't say anything through the Chicago song, or the Creedence one that follows, or the one after that, and seven miles later, Sam's asleep.