Dean lowers his brother slowly, quietly, to the floor, guiding him to lean against the wall, and, catching Charlie in the corner of his eye, says calmly, "Get a trash can."

Charlie does as she is asked, depositing her toiletry bag on the small table in her room and slipping the little waste basket out from under it to take to Dean. She pauses in the doorway, squeezes her eyes shut, breathes. She has to maintain a calm, like Dean. She has to stay cool. Like Dean.

Like Dean. Like Dean. Like Dean.

She reenters the hallway to find Dean holding Sam up, trying to push his hair away from the bloodied bile. His shirt is already a loss- jeans, too. Sam shudders as another bout overtakes him, and blood bubbles from his sealed lips. He screws his eyes shut for a moment, as if trying to control it, to contain it, but then he moans and his lips part and his body spasms and so much blood comes out that Charlie is momentarily frozen in her path, because no one even has that much blood, and it seems to spill forth forever, Sam gasping and coughing and moaning. Charlie has always had a strong stomach but she suddenly feels like maybe she might need the bucket, too.

Dean only looks from Sam when Charlie hands him the trash can, but even in that split second Charlie is able to identify the sheer terror in his eyes. When he looks to her, it's as though all the walls come down- just for a second- and his eyes grow wide, and his mouth opens like he's about to say something but all that comes out is a little strangle breath.

Then he looks back to Sam, and his face steels. He holds the bucket beneath Sam's chin and Sam nearly collapses into it. His hand comes up and latches to Dean's shirt, holding on for dear life. Charlie can see his hand shake. Dean mumbles things like "let it out" and "it'll be okay" and "you're doing good" alternatively as Sam faces another round of nausea.

Dean presses his lips into a thin line, then turns to Charlie. "Can you do me a favor?"

Charlie nods mutely.

"A bottle of water. And in my desk drawer, there's a thermometer. Can you get that?"

Another nod.

Dean smiles as best he can.

Sam's eyes roll up to meet her for a second and he grimaces. "S-s-sorry."

Shaking her head is the best response Charlie can give.

After grabbing the water from the kitchen, Charlie finds herself wandering the halls of the lair, trying to find Dean's room. It hadn't occurred to her that the place would be so big, but when she recalls the exterior, okay, she shouldn't be surprised.

Finally, after a lot of snooping around, she finds what she assumes to be Dean's room. Guns decorate the walls, and there are a few family pictures scattered about. It honestly could've been Sam or Dean's room. The only thing that makes her think it's the latter is the complete lack of books. She doesn't think that Sam would pass up the chance to create his own miniature library.

She checks the first drawer in the desk and nope, no thermometer. Just a stack of journals. The second drawer is a dud too. Finally, the third drawer is the winner, yielding a thermometer, and- bonus-- a cold compress. She takes both and prepares herself for the voyage that is finding her way back to the boys.

Which turns out not as hard as she thought it would be- the boys are only one hall over. Sam seems to be finished vomiting, and now he's leaning against Dean (Dean is practically cradling Sam), who is rubbing his back and telling him to hang on until he can get him to bed. "Then you can sleep, okay?"

Charlie hands off the water bottle and thermometer, but keeps the cold compress in her hands, needing something to fiddle with. She crouches nervously just behind Dean; close enough to see and hear, but far enough to not intrude.

Dean uncaps the water bottle and presses it to Sam's lips, silently trying to coax him to drink. Sam whimpers as a violent shiver runs through him, but his mouth remains shut. "Come on, Sammy, just a little sip, please." The whole of the sentence seems to be innocent but the final word intones the desperation Dean is trying so hard to conceal.

Sam closed his eyes and opened his mouth, at first seeming soothed by the cool liquid, but then his eyes open wide and he spits out the water along with blood and bile. Dean lurches forward for the trash can again, then holds it beneath Sam's mouth as he resumes the process of purging all the contents of his stomach and a little extra, too. Once the heaving stops, Sam is left panting, every exhalation accompanied with the softest moan. Dean closes his eyes and breathes deeply through his nose, and Charlie can't help but think he's more upset about the situation than Sam is.

Dean cradles Sam's head against his chest and fumbles his hair out of the way, fingers running across his forehead. "Damn," he mumbles. "Sammy, open up your mouth for me. I need to take your temperature."

Sam complies and Dean puts the thermometer in his mouth. In those moments when Sam closes his eyes and rests his head in Dean's hands, against Dean's chest, and Dean is stroking Sam's hair and rubbing his back, Charlie is a little overwhelmed. She can't recall the last time someone touched her like that. There is no recollection of such a bewilderingly soft embrace. Sure, hugging Dean felt like hugging the sun, but at that moment Sam probably felt like he was being cradled by the moon, and if that analogy didn't spell out her compatibility ( or lack thereof) then she didn't know what did.

Sam's temperature is 102.3. Dean says he's had worse. He hoists Sam up and carries him to his room, bridal style (or dead-man style, she thinks morbidly), and Charlie takes this as her cue to get ready for bed. And she does begin to- retrieving her toiletries from her room and pacing into the bathroom- until she realizes that she still has the cold compress and hey, Sam could probably use this.

So she traces her way back to the Dean's room, and sure enough, the next room over, there's a soft glow coming from the crack in the door. She starts to walk in until she sees what's happening- and from her vantage point, she has the perfect view.

Sam is in the bed, propped up by a few pillows. His breathing is ragged, shallow. Dean sits in a chair right next to the bed, and the way he's turned, she can see a little bit of his face, but mostly his back. Sam's lips are moving but she can't really hear what he's saying, only Dean's responses:

"No, of course I'm not going to leave."

"Look, we can't afford to think like that. I know it's been tough, but we've still got lot's of loose ends to tie up. I need a geek around here to research for me."

"Well Charlie's no you."

"Psh, an iPad doesn't make up for 30 years of training."

"Don't be stupid, you've practically been training since you were born."

"Whatever. We're not arguing about this now."

Sam says something and Dean reaches up and pushes Sam's hair back, his hand lingering a little longer on his head than it needed to.

"I know, God, I know. I'm so sorry, Sam."

"That's not funny, you ass."

Sam grins faintly and his hand fumbles for Dean's. Dean is a quick catch though. Sam's lips move more, but even without being able to hear what's said, Charlie can tell it was unintelligible.

"Stop talking and get some sleep, okay? God knows you need all the beauty rest you can get."

And, like always, Sam follows his big brother's orders without hesitation.

Wowowowowoowowowowowoowow. Thank you so much for all of the reviews and favorites and follows. Just wow. My email was flooded for a little bit.

I hope this chapter isn't a failure- it was hard to write. Also, please excuse any of the "-" things. I don't currently have Word so I don't get the fancy long lines. Zenwriter is a bitch.

Anyway, I haven't really decided where I want to go with the next chapter. You should leave a suggestion. And please let me know if you see any errors.

If you are looking for something else to do while procrastinating studying for finals (shut up I know you are) you should review my story. It'll take five minutes. It's the perfect plan.

Val bene,