Hello, ladies and gentlemen and peasants, I am back with a oneshot. This one's a birthday present, haven't done much of those here, so this is kinda first for me - the honor (yes yes, I know, I'm awesome, thank you *grins*) belongs to the wonderful agent iz hyper aka one of my best internet friends like ever.
WISH HER HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PEASANTS.
*leads epic chorus of the happy birthday song*
Also, I'm sorry this is late, but you know, where I live it's still the 26th, so yeah, not that late xD *sigh* I apologize once again, and I've told you why, though I must add in that my internet is to blame. It had been acting decidedly strange... I think it's having an affair with the neighbor's internet. Can't connect to either of them lately *narrows eyes at internet modem*
Anyway - Carry on my wayward peasants.
Dean put his magazine down and stood, stretching. It was after midnight. He'd been reading books since late evening, had tired of it and picked up the magazine around eleven, and now he needed some rest.
The Batcave seemed strangely empty and silent without Sam. That was weird, because even with Sam there it was quiet around anyway – but now Dean was beginning to appreciate the difference between silent and quiet. Quiet was nice, and it implied that the lack of sounds was welcome and comfortable. Silent meant it was forced, and that the source of the noise didn't want to be quiet but had to.
Dean poured himself a glass of water from the sink and downed it in one go, reflecting on his brother. Sam had gone to take a nap a little after noon, and he was still asleep – most unlike him. He was just so tired now, all the time. The second trial had made whatever was wrong with him even worse – Dean knew the kid didn't think he noticed, but he had, that Sam was coughing up blood more often, had more headaches, was dizzier than usual… the works.
He put the glass aside and decided to go check on Sam before turning in for the night. He opened the door to Sam's room slowly, careful not to wake him up. To his satisfaction Sam was fast asleep, curled on his side with a blanket wrapped around him. Hoping Sam would be up in the morning, Dean continued on to his own room, trying to ignore the silence in the Batcave.
He was woken suddenly by what sounded suspiciously like footsteps – Sam's footsteps, to be precise. He sat up in bed and strained his ears for more sounds, but there was nothing. He was just about to lie back down with the conclusion that he must have imagined it, but just as his head touched the pillow he heard the sounds again.
Maybe it wasn't Sam, his brain supplied as he slid out of bed. It could be someone else. Burglars were out of the question, since it wasn't an easy job to get into the base, but hunters (or monsters) couldn't be ruled out.
He grabbed his gun and moved silently out of his room, looking around to see if anything was out of place. His first destination was Sam's room. He pushed the door open with one hand and used his other to aim his gun in front of him, squinting into the darkness.
Sam wasn't there.
Just as his brain computed this fact, another sound rang out – this time it was a resounding CRASH. Immediately his mind was wiped clean of all thoughts save one: Sammy. He ran out of his brother's room and in the direction of the sound, yelling "SAMMY!" at the peak of his lungs because screw discretion.
Sam finally answered, his voice sounding weak and fragile. "Dean!" he called out, and Dean's pace quickened. Sam sounded hurt.
"Sam, where are you?" he called out, frantically looking here and there for anything that might be hiding in the shadows. Nothing jumped out at him, however, and he used the welcome peace to listen for Sam.
"Down here!" Sam called. "Dean – hurry!"
There was something in his brother's tone that sounded incredibly wrong – he sounded more hurt than he usually tended to get. And he sounded a lot sicker than he had. Uneasily Dean wondered if he was under attack, before remembering that if he was he probably would not be able to call out to him like that.
He turned in the direction Sam's voice had been coming from, and got to the stairs leading down to the basement. It was dark down here, and he felt his way along the wall before reaching the light switch and flipping it on. His breath caught in his throat the moment the lights came on.
Sam was lying in a heap at the foot of the stairs, clutching his ankle tightly. His skin was pale and sweaty, and his eyes were closed as he braced himself against the pain. Dean hurried down, taking the steps three at a time, and knelt down next to Sam, asking, "What happened, Sammy?"
Sam didn't answer Dean's question, instead saying, "Dean, I think I've sprained my ankle."
Dean looked down at the swelling and nodded. "Yeah, I think you have. Can you get up?"
Sam tried… and promptly collapsed. Dean caught him just before he hit the floor again. "What happened?" he asked again.
"I fell down the stairs," answered Sam, sounding a little embarrassed and not looking at his brother. "It was dark, I couldn't see," he added defensively in response to Dean's incredulous expression.
Sam bitchfaced him, clearly not appreciating his incredulity. "Don't be a jerk," he muttered.
Dean raised an eyebrow, but let it slide, and said, "Okay, let's get you to your room."
He really had no idea how he managed to half-carry, half-drag Sam back up all those stairs and all the way to his room. The kid was tired, and in pain, and as a result was more dead weight than any actual help. Dean was sure he wasn't even trying to support himself, just doing what he could and letting Dean struggle with the rest.
Dean sat him down on his bed and said, "Stay here, I'm getting you an icepack." Sam nodded, still looking embarrassed, and Dean left.
He came back to find Sam sitting with his blanket wrapped around him, and even from the doorway he could make out his shivering. "What's wrong?" he asked, concern spiking. "You sick, Sammy?"
Sam shook his head. "No, it's just chilly in here. I'm fine."
Dean shrugged. "If you say so." He twisted the icepack and handed it to Sam, who took it gingerly in his hands and lightly touched it to his damaged ankle. Dean didn't miss the wince that crossed his baby brother's face when the cold surface came in contact with his skin.
"I'll turn the heater up," he said, and Sam nodded gratefully.
A minute later, seated next to Sam in the now uncomfortably hot room, Dean asked, "Why were you down there, Sammy?"
Sam looked away, and if Dean didn't know brother he could have sworn Sam had gone red in the face. "Sammy," he said, his tone more insistent. "I'm asking you something."
"I wanted to practice," Sam replied, his voice so low it was almost inaudible.
"Practice? Practice what?" Dean was confused, and Sam's reluctance to tell him was beginning to test his patience.
"Shooting," Sam answered, his voice even lower. "I wanted to hit the target this time."
Dean actually slapped his own forehead in frustration. "Sam," he said, his tone now angry, "what part of needing rest don't you understand?"
"You don't get it!" Sam said frantically, his blanket slipping off his shoulders. "I need something to do, Dean! I need to get the trials done, and to do that I need to be able to shoot, and for that I need practice!"
"What you need," Dean cut in, sounding irritated beyond belief, "is a good ass-kicking. I am going to lock you in this room, you hear me?"
"You can't do that," Sam argued. "I'm not a child anymore."
"Yeah, because ignoring what's good for you is such an adult thing to do," retorted Dean. "So help me, Sam, if you do anything like that again I am going to slaughter you."
Sam looked petulant at that, but Dean was not going to give in. The world could end but he wasn't going to let Sam out to hunt, at least not until he got better. "I mean it, Sam," he told his brother. "I don't want you getting any sicker than you already are."
"I'm not sick," contradicted Sam, looking sulky.
Dean snorted. "Yeah, and I'm the President."
Sam bitchfaced him again.
"You know I'm right."
"Shut up, jerk."
Dean grinned maddeningly at him, before grabbing his shoulders and forcing him to lie down. Sam's resistance was whole-hearted, but Dean was alarmed by how weak it was. It seemed like he wasn't even trying, and yet the sweat beading on his forehead told Dean otherwise.
Though it could probably be the fact that room was the temperature of the Sun by now.
"I'm turning down the heater," Dean said, and Sam used the opportunity to sit up again. "Oh no you don't," Dean replied at once, and pushed Sam back down. To make sure Sam wouldn't get up again, he kicked his slippers off and climbed on the bed, sitting down on Sam's torso.
"What the hell, Dean?" asked Sam, his third bitchface evident in his tone. "Get off me!"
"No," refused Dean. "You need. To stay. In bed."
"No I don't," argued Sam, but he wasn't trying to get up, or even to get Dean off. "It's cold," he then randomly announced.
Dean narrowed his eyes at him, and then bent forward and placed his hand to Sam's forehead. "You've got a fever," he informed his brother.
"I do not," Sam answered. "You're imagining it."
Dean couldn't help but stare at his brother. "Do you have any idea how childish you sound when you say that?"
Sam just glared at him. Dean heaved an exaggerated sigh and got off his brother. "I'm going to get you some aspirin," he informed him. "If you move one inch I'm seriously locking you in."
Sam didn't answer, just glared some more, but he didn't move from his spot either. Satisfied, Dean left.
His worry hit him full-force the minute he left the room and Sam was out of his sight. Sam hadn't had a fever in forever. This was most certainly not good. At all. The trials… Dean was concerned that they might kill Sam before he managed to close the Gates of Hell, and that wasn't a comforting thought at all.
Charlie's words came back to him, and he smiled as he remembered them. She was right – if there was anyone who could do it, it was Sam. And as long as they stuck together, they'd be invincible.
But that's all they were – words. She had no inkling of what lay ahead for them, or what Sam went through. She didn't know how painful it was to look in the trashcan and see tissues dotted with blood. She didn't know how bad it got for Dean sometimes, when he woke up in the middle of the night with the image of Sam's still, lifeless body burned into his eyelids.
He sighed, and poured a glass of water for Sam.
The kid was still in the same spot when Dean returned, but his skin was flushed and he was sweating more than ever, despite the cool temperature of the room. Hiding his concern with all the success of a rhino running for President, Dean handed him the aspirin and water and watched as he drank it down with shaking hands.
"Sam," he said, once he'd taken the glass from his brother and put it aside. "How do you feel?"
"Like shit," croaked Sam, a complete 180 from his previous insistences. "I think I'm sick, Dean."
Dean rolled his eyes. "Give the boy a prize," he muttered, and then grinned at Sam's offended expression.
"Dean?" Sam said after a few moments, his voice sounding hesitant. "Can I ask you something?"
"You already did, Sammy," Dean told him, grinning.
"Oh, you know what I mean," Sam said impatiently, looking up at Dean with earnest eyes.
"Yeah, Sammy," Dean said, sobering. "Go ahead."
"You and Charlie," Sam began, and Dean began paying full attention at once. "When you were inside her head… what did you see?"
Dean regarded his brother for a few seconds, before replying, "Well, we were in a first-person shooter game. I was an army doctor or something, she was this pirate zombie hunter thing. We shot vampires."
Sam's eyebrows shot up. "Really?"
Dean nodded. "Yeah, that's about it."
"Why'd it get both of you so emotional, then?" asked Sam, his tone obstinate.
Dean considered not telling Sam, then thought better of it. The kid would ask until Dean burst a blood vessel, or else he'd brood about it until he did. It was better to get it over with – and besides, what if Sam got worse and Dean never got the chance?
"We were supposed to save patients from vampires," he said, taking in Sam's attentive expression, memorizing it even though he already had it down in his mind. "One of them was her mom. Her biggest fear."
"What was yours?" Sam asked, his voice soft.
Dean swallowed. The memory still managed to bring his heart to his throat. Seeing Sam so still and lifeless… He shook his head slightly and blinked at Sam. "You." His answer was almost inaudible.
Sam didn't answer, and Dean went on, finding himself unable to stop (because Sam needed to know things that Dean might not get the chance to tell him otherwise), "You were in one of those hospital beds too, Sam. In a coma."
"Dean," Sam began, "don't worry, Dean. I'm going to be fine. I just have to get this over with."
Dean turned on him with blazing eyes. "You don't understand, Sam," he said fiercely. "I know if there's anyone who can do it, it's you, but you're only human, Sammy. You might not make it. And if that happens…" He swallowed again. "I'll never forgive myself," he finished.
"Dean," Sam tried again, "I'll make it, Dean. Just you see." He struggled to sit up, and this time Dean didn't stop him. "We'll both be fine, Dean." He sounded like he was trying to convince himself as much as his brother, and that didn't make Dean feel any better at all.
"Sam," Dean said hoarsely, and then thought better of it. Sam was sick, he was not fine at all, and here he was reassuring his brother instead of the other way round. It was so fucked up that Dean couldn't even think of the number of levels this was wrong on. He was the older one. Sam's protector. It was his job to make sure Sam was going to be all right. And he was failing so spectacularly it wasn't even funny.
"You're not failing," Sam said, as if he'd read Dean's mind. "You're doing your best, Dean."
"It's not good enough, Sam," Dean answered harshly. "This is supposed to be on me."
"No it's not," refuted Sam. "It's my burden to carry, Dean. I won't let you do it."
"I promised I wouldn't," Dean reminded him bitterly. "Remember, Sammy?"
Sam nodded. "Yeah, Dean. It's better this way, trust me."
"How?" asked Dean, his voice rising. "How is it better, Sammy, knowing I might lose you to this? How is it better for anyone if you die?"
"No more demons," Sam began, but Dean cut him off.
"Sam, none of that matters if you're not there," he said, not caring how selfish he sounded. "Nothing is more important to me than you are. And I am not going to lose you to these fuckdamned trials."
"Haven't you been listening to me?" demanded Sam. "It won't happen, Dean! I'm not going anywhere!"
Sam's determined voice unexpectedly brought tears to Dean's eyes. "Sam," he said, his voice barely above a whisper, "Sam, if only you knew…"
"Knew what?" asked Sam, his voice gentler. He leaned closer to his brother. "If only I knew what, Dean?"
Dean looked at him, knowing but not caring that his misery showed plainly on his face. "How scared I am of losing you," he all but whispered.
"I do know, Dean," Sam replied softly. "Which is why I'm not going anywhere. Please… trust me on this."
"I wish I could," Dean admitted. "But I can't, Sam. Because it it's not demons it's going to be angels, or something else, and I can't take that, Sammy."
"I'll be fine, Dean," Sam said firmly, his tone persuasive. "We've saved the world, this should be a cakewalk, right?"
"You were in top form then," Dean reminded him. "You weren't sick."
"I'll get better, Dean," Sam insisted. "You just have to trust me to do these trials. Please, Dean."
Dean considered it. Sam had a point, of course he did, but his own worry was larger than any logic his brain possessed. Nothing in the world was worth losing Sam. But what had to be done could not be denied, he knew – and Sam was the person who was going to save the world, again. There was only that slightly sticky issue of him being, you know – SICK. And PROBABLY SLOWLY DYING.
The thought almost made him choke, and suddenly his body developed a mind of its own – he reached out and grabbed Sam, pulling him closer and holding him tight. Sam went still, evidently trying to process this new development, and Dean used the opportunity to speak. "Please don't die, Sammy," he whispered. "That's an order."
Sam wrapped his arms loosely around Dean. "I won't, Dean," he promised. "Trust me."
"I do," Dean answered into Sam's hair. "More than anything."
"Thank you," Sam replied quietly after a moment. He could be eighty years old but he knew that without Dean's trust – which was basically his permission – he couldn't do a thing. Wouldn't do a thing.
Dean just held him tighter and inhaled his scent, knowing he couldn't get enough of it, because he might never smell it again. He might never get to hold Sam again, or to talk to him, or to joke around with him, or to take care of him when he was sick or hurt–
"Stop it," Sam said, and Dean knew he must have felt the hot tears on his neck. "Stop it, Dean." He was pleading, Dean realized.
"Okay, Sammy," he answered, his voice thick. "Stopping."
"Good," Sam whispered fiercely. "You're not supposed to give up either, you know."
Dean drew away from him and offered him a watery sort of smile, hands still on Sam's shoulders. "Me, give up? Never," he said, and Sam laughed. Dean noticed the tears in his eyes too, but did not comment on them.
"We're going to be okay, aren't we?" he said, standing.
Sam nodded. "Yes we are, Dean."
"Okay," Dean said, actually believing it for once. "Good night, Sammy."
"'Night, Dean," Sam answered, turning on his side.
"I'll come in and check on you in a bit," Dean told him. "And if you need anything, yell."
"Will do," promised Sam. "Mom," he added, with a hint of a smile playing on his face.
Dean rolled his eyes, then smiled at Sam. "Get better, kid," he said, and switched off the light. My life depends on it, he added silently to himself.
Inside the room, Sam smiled to himself, before closing his eyes. Dean was going to mother him even when they were 100 and 104, he knew. But it was all okay.
Because Dean was his protector, his rock, and the one person he was going to defeat all odds for. Dean was the one person he was going to live for and fight for, and it was going to take a lot more than demons to change that.
Yeah well... there you have. Reviews are appreciated, since I'm not completely happy with this, but it's the best I can do, and the best that I can give agent iz hyper right now. I hope you like it, bro.
Remember everyone, concrit is also appreciated greatly.