Writer's Note: Just want to share that I am writing this in anticipation of the deplorably low amount of hurt!Sam h/c this upcoming week's episode will inevitably have, haha.
So anyone interested in reading the long, dragged-out, emotional, let's-nearly-kill-'im version of Trialculosis!Sam, here you go (and, also, WARNING: the very first sequence here is a SPOILER to 8.21, as it's a scene featured in the sneak peak released by the CW a few days ago). I know it's a little annoying if you've already seen the clip, but it flies by fast.
"Want me to do the whole, uh, airplane thing with the spoon?" Dean asked lightly, waiting for some sort of a response from Sam.
Dean threw the spoon down, annoyed.
"When was the last time you ate?" he challenged. Sam frowned and shook his head with apathy.
"Days, Sam, s'been three days."
Sam rolled his eyes. Dean wasn't making his point.
He glanced up at his brother in time to see him pull a thermometer out of his pocket. Sam huffed with skepticism.
"When'd you get that?"
"When you started throwin' off heat waves," Dean bit back. He shook it a couple times and leaned in towards Sam, extending the thing out. Sam reacted, backing the chair out and dropping the stupid blanket Dean had thrown on him from before.
"Enough!" Sam murmured, stumbling over as he rose to his feet, "Dean, please..." he finished, too fatigued to be genuinely pissed, but too well to take Dean's ministrations. Dean withdrew the thermometer and pursed his lips.
"The bloody handkerchief, the fever, the shaky legs. This is not good," Dean waved at Sam.
"Well I'm not good... and I'm not going to be good until we can start moving again. Until I can start the third trial-"
"Trial? I wouldn't let you start a mo-ped," Dean shot back, throwing the thermometer on the table. "We're on the rails with this thing, okay? And the only way out of it, is through it. Believe me, I know. And you know how badly I want to slam the door on all those sons of bitches," Dean lectured, then softened, "...but you gotta let me take care of you, man. You gotta let me help you get your strength back."
Sam sighed, exhausted.
"This isn't a cold. Or a fever or whatever it is you're s'posed to feed. This is part of it all. Those first two trials... they're not just things I did - they're doing something to me. They're changing me, Dean."
Dean let Sam's words hang in silence. He had too many things to say and he couldn't streamline them. Finally, he nodded and broke his gaze to stare at the plate on the table. He picked up the spoon and threw it onto the tray.
"Y'gonna eat?" he murmured, staring at the stew. He heard Sam sigh again.
"M'not hungry," Sam replied, sorely sitting back down into his chair.
"Okay," Dean said softly, pulling the tray away from Sam and heading back to the kitchen with it.
Sam blinked the water out of his eyes and sniffed as he hovered over the papers spread out on the table. His vision was blurring. Still cogent, he wondered if this was what it felt like to be dyslexic. The letters jumped and shifted in front of him - words seemed to float and shake.
He leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes, and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"You tired?" Dean undertoned, startling Sam. Sam looked up to see his brother next to him, leaning against the table.
"-Jesus..." Sam breathed.
"Sorry," Dean murmured, moving over the table to pile the papers together.
"No - Dean! What're you doing? They're organized," Sam jumped forward in his chair, trying to get Dean to stop what he was doing. At his brother's touch, Dean stopped and turned to scrutinize him.
"You know what time it is?" Dean asked, crouching down so Sam could look down at him. Sam blinked and, keeping his clouded gaze on Dean, shook his head and shrugged. Dean raised his wrist to show him his watch, eyes expectant.
"Nearly one in the morning. We'll pick this up later, Sam. C'mon," Dean said casually, standing up. He made no move to help Sam up, for which Sam was thankful, and started tidying the papers again.
Sam gave a long sigh and rubbed his eyes. He was slightly disturbed that he didn't have the strength to stop Dean from moving the papers on the table again. He was too out of it.
"Okay," he whispered, setting his palm on the table for balance as he moved to stand up. He felt the chair move out from behind him as he stood.
"Dean, don't-" Sam said, irritated even just by that one small gesture. Dean ignored it as he came around to face him.
"Are you okay to walk?" Dean asked seriously, his hands at his side, not clasped in anger, but rather ready to reach out. Sam winced with distaste.
"Yes, I'm fucking okay to walk," Sam rasped harshly, pushing off from the table and shoving against Dean's shoulder as he moved past him.
Fuming, Sam managed straight steps to the end of the table. It dawned upon him then that the steam he was moving under - his anger, his frustration - was overwhelming. He felt overheated and light-headed. The floor had started to spin at some point but Sam could still see the step down he needed to take before he could enter into the hallway where they'd set up their bedrooms.
He grimaced and swallowed, trying to keep himself upright and steady, trying to keep his nausea at bay, as he took the steep step down.
The step wasn't steep though. His depth perception was shot to hell. Sam gasped as the ground shot up and twisted like a kaleidoscope as his foot landed. His knee buckled and the floor spun closer. His reaction time off, he tried to brace himself by raising his hands up in front of him.
Instead of the floor, he felt a sudden harsh constriction around his chest, a hand clamping tightly and painfully along his side, and a sharp tug that forced his body to tumble left. Sam landed on his left side, his head hitting Dean's chest as Dean took the full brunt of Sam's weight in the fall.
"God damn it," Dean wheezed, eyes tearing from the impact.
"Dean-" Sam gasped, still lying on his brother. His breathing had gone fast and shallow; he was so dizzy and weak that he couldn't lift himself up. "I.. can't.." Sam gasped.
Sam moved his hand up, vaguely searching for the floor.
"Sam, Sam what is it?"
Sam felt Dean's hand on the back of his head and his whole world tipped upside down as Dean started to roll him off of him. Sam knew Dean was never anything but gentle with him, but the fever and his vision caused the movement to feel rough and way too intense.
Sam grimaced and made an effort to open his eyes as Dean laid him down on his back on the floor. The vaulted ceilings were huge and brilliantly lit - they started to swirl above him and Sam closed his eyes with a miserable sob.
"Over," he heard Dean's order and felt his brother push him onto his side. He went with it and felt Dean's hand push on his stomach then chest.
"No..." Sam gasped, hating the gesture, feeling like it was too much touching - too much sensation for him to handle. He was going to be sick.
"C'mon Sam, it's okay..." he heard his brother murmur. Sam's eyes were tearing up as he shook his head.
"I'm... gonna... be sick..."
"No you're not - you haven't eaten anything for the past three days," Dean replied quickly from behind him, the meaning of his words flashing fast enough for Sam to understand. "Just pull through it. Breathe."
Sam felt Dean's other hand brace his forehead. Sam squeezed his eyes shut, swallowed, and gave a trembling nod. He felt sweat trickling down his face and knew that Dean must be feeling the temperature spike.
"Fuck, Sam," he heard Dean whisper. Sam held his breath for a moment as he cringed, trying to suppress tears. He was always Dean's burden. He'd tried so hard not to let this happen...
"I'm sorry," he rasped between hyperventilating breathes. "I... didn't..."
Dean wiped Sam's hair back from his face.
"Sam, stop," Dean murmured, "Are you shaking because you're cold?" or just upset?
"I... don't know," Sam replied haltingly. He felt a pressure on his side as Dean leaned over him. A second later he felt a blanket draped over him.
"Okay, just relax, the floor's comfortable, right?" Dean joked, though his tone was anything but humorous. Sam remained still and focused on nothing. Dean stayed silent.
"Okay... you still feel sick?" Dean finally asked quietly.
Sam blinked at the polished hardwood.
"Floor's not moving anymore."
"Okay that's as good as I'm gonna get," Dean murmured more to himself than Sam, and started to roll his brother onto his back on the floor. Dean hovered over him, appraising him, worried.
Sam could only look up at his brother as Dean repositioned the blanket onto his chest. He closed his eyes as his headache worsened and clasped a hand over his eyes.
"This sucks," Sam whispered.
"Yeah," Dean replied softly, "Open your mouth." Sam brushed his hand off his face and opened his eyes to slits to see Dean ticking the thermometer back and forth in front of him. Sam sighed and pleaded one last time with his eyes. Dean tilted his head. "Dude, c'mon," you know better.
Dean leaned in and lifted Sam's head up.
Sam acquiesced and took the thermometer under his tongue. Dean pushed Sam's sweat-slicked hair back and pressed his fingers against Sam's neck to check his pulse.
"Your pulse is too fast," Dean whispered as he started to get up.
"I coulda told 'oo that," Sam grumbled, the thermometer hindering his pronunciation. He watched Dean leave his line of sight.
"Stay lying down. Don't try getting up yet," Dean ordered. Sam was still out of it, but he detected the regret in his brother's voice. He felt Dean's footsteps become more distant. The echoes in the room made Dean seem like he was on the other side of a tunnel... and then the movement and sound just disappeared. Dean had vanished to some other part of the house, leaving Sam down on the floor.
Finally alone, Sam could despair.
"Fuck," Sam whispered, cringing with pain. He pulled the thermometer out of his mouth and squinted to see what it said: 103.4. Great radio station, he thought idly as he clamped down against an inward sob.
The floor vibrated minutely beneath him. The sounds of footsteps approaching signaled Dean's return. Sam reached out to palm the floor, about to try to lift himself up to a sitting position.
"Hey no, stay down," Dean ordered loudly. Sam grimaced but automatically did as he was told. "How you feeling?"
"Symptoms? - You took the thermometer out," Dean added, annoyed.
"Okay," Dean replied, pulling Sam's wrist and setting it onto his knee.
"Wh-what're you doing?" Sam asked groggily.
"You wouldn't," Dean said calmly as he tied a band around Sam's forearm, "let me play big brother, " Dean uncapped a needle, "so," he settled it over a vein, "now I'm playing doctor," he trailed off slowly, his tone thoroughly miserable, as he carefully directed the needle into Sam's skin. Sam bit his lip and made an effort to stay still. Once in the vein, Dean glanced at Sam as he pressed cotton balls lightly around the puncture. He twisted around and grabbed a strip of tape he'd had ready and taped the IV down.
"S'just for a couple of hours," Dean murmured.
Dean gave a small shrug as he lifted the bag, then an eyebrow.
"Can you read it?"
Dean nodded approvingly.
"Good job. Where you want to sleep tonight?"
Sam twitched a smile when he heard Dean chuckle. Sam started to turn over, thinking Dean's question about where to sleep was a tacit message to try to get up, and placed his free hand against the floor again for leverage.
"Hey hey hold on," Dean pushed Sam back down again. Still weak, Sam fell back with a huff. "We're in no rush. Let the drip do something before we get up, all right?"
Sam lazily turned to look directly at Dean. His eyes were half-lidded, but he was still relatively aware. They remained silent together, Sam lying down and Dean sitting in a hunched position next to him. Dean preferred the lack of conversation - made it easier to monitor Sam's breathing. He checked the solution every once in awhile.
"The ceilings are too high," Sam murmured, his gaze on Dean. Dean turned, his brow furrowed with confusion, and he tilted his head.
"They're- The ceilings," Sam vaguely pointed up, "They're vaulted. Too high. Made me..." Sam swallowed, accidentally revisiting the sense of nausea from staring up at the cavernous library before.
Sam felt Dean's warm, dry hand clasp his and set it back down on his chest.
"All right. Just don't look up, then. Focus on me, okay?"
Sam winced, swallowed, and nodded as he blinked up at Dean.
"Ugly," Sam smiled.
"Your ugly face."
"Yeah Sam, my ugly face. Just relax, man," Dean replied absently, sighing as he looked around the library.
"...Dean?" Sam's voice was small, tentative. Dean looked back down at Sam, concerned.
"I can do the third trial."
Sam watched Dean's eyes light with anger. He turned away so Sam couldn't see his face. Sam could still see Dean's head shake then look down at the floor though.
"I promise," Sam begged, "Dean-?"
Sam felt a tear fall down his cheek.
Dean turned back finally. Sam was surprised to see compassion in his brother's gaze.
"I know, Sammy," Dean tried to smile, "I know you can."
End Note: A couple more chapters to go. Thank you so much for reading - please leave a comment/review if you can spare the time!