Sam rarely got sick, but when he did, he did it with a vengeance. Dean only knew how bad it was when they got to the motel. Dean went to check them in, and when he came back with the key, Sam was slumped over in the car, shivering.
Dean helped his brother into the room, where Sam collapsed face-first on the bed closest to the door, and would not move.
Dean went into caretaker mode, practiced and efficient. He stripped Sam's boots and clothes off, rummaged in his duffle for his favorite t-shirt and sweat pants, and went to put them on. Sam was sheened in sweat, hair sticking to his face, and seemed barely conscious.
Dean couldn't risk trying to move Sam into the shower without some help from Sam himself, so he grabbed the ice bucket, filled it with cool water, dipped in a hand towel and gently began wiping Sam down.
The first touch of the cool, wet cloth against Sam's face, and he turned his face toward Dean, making a soft sound of pleasure that showed Dean just how miserable Sam really was.
"It's ok, Sammy. I'm right here. Gonna take care of you." Dean stroked Sam's face with the wet cloth, slowly, with infinite tenderness. Sam let Dean do it, let him wipe him down all over, all loose, feverish limbs and utterly pliant.
By the time Dean had gotten to Sam's calves and feet, his face was shiny with sweat again.
"Ok, Sammy. Gotta let you sweat this out." Dean knew that it was better for Sam to let the fever rage and kill off whatever was making him sick than to fill him full of aspirin to lower the fever. That just made him 75% miserable for a week, instead of horribly sick for a day or two at most.
Sam nodded, eyes lidded. He let Dean dress him in the t-shirt and sweats. Dean slipped into bed behind him and propped Sam up against his chest, legs on either side. "Come on. Gotta get as much water into you as we can." Sam leaned against Dean, and let him bring the glass to his lips over and over. "There you go, Sammy. Doing real good. Can you drink a little more for me? There you go. Gonna make you feel better. Little more. Real good." Sam sweated through his shirt, and through Dean's shirt, but Dean didn't complain. He just kept refilling the little water glass from the big bottle of AquaFina. Sam was clearly on the verge of passing out, but he held his head up and took a drink of water every single time Dean asked him to.
It made Dean's heart ache in a way he hadn't known was possible. He kissed the top of Sam's head. "Ok, Sammy. That's enough. Let's get some Nyquil in you, ok?" Sam nodded, probably not even knowing what Dean had said, just nodding, trusting Dean completely, willing to do whatever he asked.
Dean lowered Sam flat on the bed, and he immediately curled up on his side. Dean dug through the first aid bag in his duffel, and pulled out the Nyquil. A quarter full. Enough to get Sam through the night.
"Need you to sit up for me."
Sam tried. He really did. But he was just too sick to do it.
Dean slipped his hand behind Sam's back and lifted him upright. Sam groaned in pain. "I know, Sammy. I know. Just need you to drink this, and you can just rest, ok?" Sam focused on Dean's face blearily, and let Dean tip the plastic cup into his mouth and swallowed the full dose. His whole body shuddered violently. Sam hated the taste of licorice, and the taste of original flavor Nyquil made him shake like he was being poisoned.
But he drank it. For Dean. And he turned his face to look at Dean and whispered, "Thank you."
Dean settled Sam into bed, wetted the cloth again and placed it on his forehead. Sam sighed.
"I'm gonna go get some stuff, ok?"
Sam grabbed Dean's hand. "Come right back?"
"Back before you know it." Dean kissed Sam on the lips, then brushed them over Sam's forehead. It was shockingly hot.
At the 24-hour Walgreens, Dean bought a digital thermometer, since the one in the kit was broken, cherry-flavored Nyquil, orange Dayquil, Gatorade, ibuprofen, canned Campbell's soup, a ceramic bowl, a large bottle of apple juice, a half-gallon of low-fat milk, Nesquick, and a box of curly straws.
Dean threw the door to the motel room open. "See, told you I wouldn't be gone long."
Sam had thrown the blankets off and stripped his clothes off. The sheet beneath him was soaked with sweat. "Dean," he croaked.
Dean's face went dark with concern. He popped the digital thermometer in Sam's mouth.
The thermometer beeped. 102.9.
Sam muttered something unintelligible.
Dean grabbed the ice bucket and ran outside to the ice machine. Back inside, he added a little water and dropped the washcloth into it. "Sam? Can you hear me?"
"Your fever's too high, Sammy. We gotta get it down a little."
Sam could barely speak, but he reached out for his brother and whispered, "Ok."
He tried to help Dean get him up so he could swallow some ibuprofen, but his head fell back, and Dean had to hold it up.
Dean ran a cool bath. When he came back, Sam was under the blankets shivering.
"Here we go, Sam. Gotta get you in the water. Can you help me out?" Sam was as unsteady on his feet as a newborn colt, but he tried. Still, Dean had to carry most of his weight. He held Sam up. "Ok, Sammy. Lift your foot. There you go."
When Sam stepped into the cool water, he hissed and pulled his foot back. "'s cold, Dee."
Sam hadn't called Dean "Dee" since he was 12.
"I know. It's gonna suck. But we have to get your fever down. Like, now. Ok?"
Sam swayed on his feet, and wouldn't budge.
"Sam." Dean put a bit of command tone into his voice. Nothing. No effect at all.
Dean started to panic, just a little. He couldn't just put a resistant Sam into the water. Someone would get hurt. Probably pretty bad.
He put his hand on Sam's face, and rubbed his thumb along Sam's jaw. "Sam. I'm getting a little scared here." Sam opened his eyes, bloodshot, but alert. "You're really sick. Really sick. And… fuck, Sam. I'm scared. Your fever's too high." He closed his eyes. "Love you."
Sam moved in his arms, raised his foot, lowered it into the cool water.
Dean's eyes flashed open. Sam was looking right at him. "Love you too."
Dean helped Sam into the water. It was clearly agony for Sam, his face wrenched tight, hissing at the feel, but he did it. For Dean.
After 20 minutes, Sam's fever hadn't dropped. It had gone up to 103.
Dean rubbed his mouth. This was really going to suck. "Sam, you're gonna hate me. But I have to." Dean left Sam in the water for a moment, and came back with the waste bin full of ice.
He knelt by the tub. "Do you trust me?"
Sam smiled, exhausted. "Yeah."
When Dean dumped the ice into the water, Sam screamed. But he did not try to get out.
It took two hours and five buckets of ice for Sam's fever to break.
He slept for eight hours straight, Dean laying next to him, holding his hand the entire time.
When he awoke, he wrapped himself around Dean, lips pressed to the hollow of his throat, and murmured, "Dean. Dean. Dean."