Sam cringed at his brother's rather unusual kindness and looked away. He sighed at the bed sheets, coming to terms.
He felt the bed move and realized Dean was moving up on the mattress. He subtly adjusted himself further against the headboard and maybe the slightest bit closer to Dean.
"Okay, c'mon," Dean murmured and Sam realized Dean had already forked a small bite for him and was holding it in the air near Sam's waist. Staring at the piece, Sam finally looked up at Dean with the most hilariously sad expression Dean had ever seen.
Taking it as his cue, Dean snorted and moved the fork towards Sam. He held his other hand below the utensil to catch any morsel that might fall but his hand was steady and solid. Not entirely surprising; Sam realized that Dean was in his element here and if anything he'd be better at this kind of stuff now because he wasn't like... six years old. And Sam was certainly no longer two.
"Your face is priceless right now, Sammy," Dean said softly, his smile gentle. Sam couldn't help blushing with embarrassment but before Dean had to say, "open up," Sam took the bite off the fork swaying in front of his face. As soon as the fork left his mouth, Dean turned back around and let Sam chew without being watched. He waited for Dean to say something snarky but instead his brother just looked back to the movie and took another bite for himself.
"S'good, right?" Dean asked absently, not turning to look at Sam. Sam nodded, realized Dean wasn't watching him, and gave a small cough before responding.
At that, Dean twisted towards his brother again, lifting the fork up. It had another small piece of potato on it.
"Here," he muttered, nodding to Sam lightly as if he was doing nothing more than casually handing him a lock pick set. He brought the bite to Sam's mouth and Sam opened up.
It was actually really good. Creamy and cheesy baked potatoes had always been a favorite of theirs' growing up. It kind of took time for them to make though so they hadn't had it very often.
Things went on like that for awhile. Dean did everything he could to make things feel casual and normal for Sam and Sam quietly went with it, eating quite a bit while Godzilla played.
This really wasn't as bad or undignified as Sam thought it would be. Dean wasn't messing with him and that, he realized, made all the difference. With all their trust issues Sam had been somewhat surprised that Dean was so careful and genuine with him right now. He imagined it had a lot to do with how much he'd scared Dean in the past few days. He vaguely recalled a lot of hallucinations, a conversation with Dean's picture of Mom, and having been found on the floor half-naked and shaking, hanging onto the side of Dean's bed. Even if Dean only liked him a little bit nowadays, those moments would still give him legitimate reasons to worry.
Sam continued to watch the movie, comfortably taking the bites Dean offered him. He figured that Dean was doing all of this because he was simply concerned about Sam's health so the least Sam could do was help Dean help him get better.
Yes, Dean had been serious. He wasn't going to mock Little Brother while he was still practically starving. However, Sam had just passed the half-mile mark on this: he'd finished about two-thirds of his baked potato without any problems... And Dean had bought pretty large potatoes. No nausea, no vomiting: Dean gave an inner fist pump of victory. Monitoring things without gawking at the kid as he passed him bite after bite, Dean knew Sam looked better now too. Not nearly as pale and, while the kid hadn't smiled yet, Dean was sure that the next time he did his eyes wouldn't look so glassy. No shakes or sweats either.
So, yeah, now? Now he could... maybe...
Dean had purposefully been preparing smaller bites for Sam than himself just so the food wouldn't fall off the fork and also just to take things easy on Sammy and his stomach. Dean's own bites were larger. He wasn't sure but, if Sam had been watching, Little Brother would have deduced that the smaller bites were for him by now. Also, he'd patterned the bites so Sam could know when to expect his next mouthful: Sam, then Dean, then back to Sam, then Dean, and so on and so forth.
So Dean prepared another small piece of food after taking a large one of his own and instead of turning it to Sam, lifted it up to his own mouth to pop it in.
Sam squinted his eyes when he noticed that Dean took his second bite in a row... It was a small one too.
That bite was supposed to be his.
A few minutes later, Dean grinned when he felt Sam shift his position next to him, making the bed move. Dean pretended he didn't notice and took another bite from the plate. He felt Sam's eyes on him and had to hold back laughter.
Sam's eyes stared daggers at Dean's back. He'd hoped shaking the bed would clue his brother in. He was still hungry. He still wanted more and he could easily see there was more... What the hell.
Dean prepped another piece of potato and quickly turned to Sam, surprising him.
"Open up," Dean said clearly, no nonsense, as he navigated the fork to Sam's mouth. Sam's eyes drilled into Dean's as he obeyed hesitantly.
Just as Dean pulled the fork out of Sam's mouth, Sam caught the playful glint in his big brother's eyes; the mischievous smirk that pulled at his lips right before he turned away. Sam's eyes widened, realizing this was deliberate on Dean's part.
"Oh my god, fuck you," Sam whined, still chewing.
"Sammy don't talk with your mouth full," Dean shot back teasingly, laughter in his tone. Sam swallowed and gave a furious sigh.
"Dean, I swear to god-"
"Shut up, Sammy," Dean interrupted good-naturedly, balancing another bite on the fork and turning back to Sam. "Eat your food," he added, smiling, as he gave a flamboyant wave of the fork 'soaring' to 'touchdown' into Sam's mouth.
Sam's eyes blazed, staring at Dean, willfully ignoring the fork's motion until it stopped in front of Sam's purse-lipped frown. Dean stared right back, his own eyes full of amusement, his smile on the brink of laughter. There was no purer entertainment than this.
"Sammy," Dean warned playfully. Sam's breathing was heavy with anger, his jaw set into a sharp angle, and Dean could just see the conflict in Little Brother's eyes: he wanted to yell at Dean but if he opened his mouth, he knew Dean would jam the fork in before he got a word out.
The stand-off was on.
Dean finally snickered, his face about six inches from Sam's, as he opened his own mouth unconsciously, trying to get Sam to open his.
"Ah...ah..." he hummed, then fell into laughter again as Sam's eyes seemed to flare up in disbelieving rage.
When Dean actually pressed the forkful of food against Sam's tightly closed lips in an effort to wedge it on in there, Sam jerked away and sputtered.
"Dean, god damn it, no. I don't want any more. I'm done eating. We're done," Sam yelled, his voice scratchy but clear. He used his shoulder to wipe the mashed potatoes off his lips and cheek in the midst of Dean cracking up next to him. After a few seconds, Dean stopped and Sam glanced up to find Dean feigning a downtrodden look of rejection. He was ready to go another round but Sam was tired and sad. He'd thought Dean wouldn't be a jerk. He thought Dean wouldn't add insult to injury (or illness) and it wasn't fair. He thought... he thought Dean cared about him.
Sam sighed angrily and used his shoulder again to wipe his bangs off his now sweaty face. When he turned back, Dean's hand was reaching out to him.
"Dean, no-" Sam almost cried, annoyed at any attention being paid him by his brother now. He tried to shimmy away from Dean's hand along the headboard.
"Stop it," Dean murmured seriously and Sam stilled on automatic whenever Dean used that tone. Dean wiped Sam's bangs back more efficiently than Sam's shoulder had and pressed his hand against Sam's forehead gently. He kept it there while tilting his eyes to meet Sam's.
"You okay? Fever?"
Sam sniffed indignantly and shook his head, unable to meet his brother's eyes.
"You're just mad at me?" Dean asked freely, pressing his palm along one side then the other of Sam's face now. Sam nodded.
"Okay, just take it easy," Dean said soothingly, "I'm just messing around, Sammy," Dean reassured warmly, finally placing his hand on Sam's shoulder and squeezing.
"Okay," Sam said quietly, still not willing to look up at his brother. He didn't know whether to be embarrassed or angry or still hungry now. He was just really tired.
Sam refused to make eye contact with Dean now and Dean really wasn't particularly pleased about how this had panned out. He shuffled right up next to Sam, pulling the plate of food up with him, and put his arm around Sam. Sam let him but he didn't lean into it or anything. He slumped his shoulders so Dean could get his whole arm around him... but Dean ruled that as something Sam just did unconsciously.
Sam really wasn't appreciating Dean at the moment.
Dean sighed, miserably noting how skinny Sam had gotten, and decided to try again without being a dick.
Sam registered that Dean was prepping another small bite of potatoes and braced himself for further mockery. Dean felt Sam tense and gave him a half-hug with his arm before lifting the fork up to Sam's mouth.
"No, really, c'mon," Dean interrupted sincerely. Sam sighed and opened his mouth. Still somewhat reeling from Dean's obnoxious behavior, Sam bit down a little harder than usual and hit his teeth against the fork's tongs. He gave a small grunt of discomfort and Dean pulled the fork out quickly.
"Dude, don't bite the fork, man," Dean said lightly and Sam could tell he was smiling. At that, Sam managed the smallest of chuckles and Dean rubbed his upper arm while he took a bite of his own. Sam sighed and his eyes wandered over and up at Dean.
"You're like Nurse Ratched," Sam muttered. Dean smiled at that as he prepped another bite for Sam. He leaned back to look down at Sam with the fork in hand and fed him as he replied.
"Doctor Kavorkian," Sam replied, his mouth full.
"The hot chick from E.R."
"You're like a hot chick?"
"Shut up," Dean retorted, jamming another bite into Sam's mouth when he opened it to laugh. Sam laughed anyway though with more difficulty given the food in his mouth. He started coughing and Dean used the arm wrapped around him to pull him up higher against the headboard.
"Sit up straight, dude, you're sinking," Dean murmured as he adjusted his little brother. Sam went with it. This time Dean felt Sam lean into him.
"Sorry. I'm tired."
"You want to go back to sleep?"
"I don't know," Sam replied vaguely, not really caring. He felt pretty good now actually: full and warm under the covers and against his big brother...
He melted further against Dean, tilting his head towards his brother's neck. Dean returned the move by angling towards Sam and holding him tighter around his back.
As miserable as this was, Sam felt closer to Dean now than he had in a long time. It felt really nice to, for once, drop all pretenses and find that beneath all their bullshit, they really did care about each other. Dean really loved Sam and Sam had missed knowing it.
Dean casually brushed Sam's hair back, his hand lingering on Sam's head for a quick massage which honestly felt so good Sam couldn't keep his eyes open.
Dean tilted his head after a few minutes to give Sam a furtive glance. Sam was pretty close to passing out on him, his eyes closed, breathing steady, looking comfortable and snug against him. Dean quirked a small smile, kind of relishing these 'big brother' moments that had become so few and far between as Sam had gotten older.
He stopped messing with Sammy's hair: as much shit as he gave him for it, growing up he couldn't remember a better go-to way to put the kid to sleep than when he played with his hair. The additional plus was Sam's confused and exasperated face when he woke up with ratty hair with so many knots.
Dean pulled the plate of food up so he could polish off the last bits while they finished watching Godzilla. Sam rustled around against him and stilled as he sank against Dean's chest. Dean followed suit, lowering himself down a little further against the head board and getting comfortable as Sam's pillow. He pulled the covers up over his brother, sighed, and closed his own eyes. Before following Sam into dreamland, he unconsciously rubbed Sam's back to soothe his own nerves as he prayed to Castiel that this was recovery... that they were through the storm and not in its eye.
Writer's Note: Thank you so much for reading! Please please leave a review/comment if you can spare a minute!