Tender Loving Care

It started off as a sneeze, leaving both Castiel and the rest of the bunker stunned a little. Castiel had never sneezed before and it was such an abrupt sound that everyone, even the children all stared at him in surprise.

"Must have been the dust," he brushed off and ignored it.

A few days later, the sneeze became sneezes and a persistent cough, then into aches and chills, and finally into aches and chills and a high fever. Naturally, Dean had freaked out and gone into protective mother hen mode while Sam rolled his eyes, and Kevin smiled and shook his head. It took Adam with his authoritative "I-am-a-doctor-in-training-so-my-medical-advice-is-sound" voice to stop Dean from cocooning Castiel in a mountain of blankets, cold remedies, and tomato rice soup.

"It's just the flu," Adam reassured as patiently as he could. Under Dean's persistence he had checked Castiel's temperature for the thousandth time and proscribed him bed rest and quiet. The latter was said with a pointed look at Dean who was still fussing over the amount of blankets Castiel needed. "He's going to be just fine if you stop smothering him with those blankets! D-Dean, stop it! You're suffocating him!"

The children all rushed to get into Dean and Castiel's bedroom as soon as they heard that their Daddy couldn't play with them today but Dean blocked them before they could barge open the door.

"Careful, darlings," Dean shooed them away gently while balancing a tray of soup in his hands. Dean was the ultimate multitasker and he deserved a fucking medal for being able to keep his hands steady while the children pushed and shoved against his legs to be the first one into their room. "Daddy is sick today and doesn't want you guys to catch his flu. He doesn't want you little guys to be stuck in bed all day like he is. Trust me, it's not fun."

"Is Daddy going to be alright?" Raphael asked worriedly. Dean's eyes softened. Raphael was always so attuned to all of their wellbeing.

"He's gonna be just fine after some rest, sweetheart," Dean assured his baby girl. He set down the tray in his hands and pulled her into a hug. "Go into the living room and play with your brothers and your uncles, okay? Just be quiet as you can so your Daddy can sleep."

"He'll get better soon?" Lucifer questioned hopefully.

"Yeah, he'll be right as rain after a bit of Dean's TLC," Kevin grinned, patting the boy's head while Dean pretended to protest in the background. Placing a gentle hand on Lucifer's back, Kevin gently pushed him along with his brothers and sister while deftly avoiding Dean's swat along his head.

"What's TLC?" Michael piped up, a perplexed look on his face as he stared at Adam who shot a glare at Kevin.

"Thanks, Kev," Adam said sarcastically, crossing his arms over his chest. "You're going to be the one to explain that one to them."

"Worth it," Kevin laughed as they took the kids down the hall.

Dean picked up the tray and elbowed his way into their room. The tables were littered with opened plastic pill cases and various tissues that Dean swiped away into a bin before setting down his tray and addressing the lump under the pile of blankets.

"Hey baby," Dean whispered, peeling back the blankets a little to reveal Castiel's sweaty pale face. Castiel's brow furrowed and with a groan, he tried weakly to pull the covers back up over his head. "Time to take some meds. Can you sit up for me?"

"No," Castiel croaked irritably. His voice was hoarse, much more gravelly than his normal tone and Dean winced a little in sympathy. It must have been hell on his throat.

"Come on," Dean wheedled, "I need you to eat something for me before you take those pills. Can you do that for me, angel? I've got some nice warm soup with your name on it."

"Being sick is highly unpleasant," Castiel intoned with the severity more ascribed to announcing the Apocalypse before reluctantly pushing the covers off.

"Amen to that," Dean chuckled. "Here, let me help you up."

He put an arm around Castiel's shoulders and under his arms. With a little effort, Castiel sat with his back against the headboard. Dean pulled up a chair from his desk and propped the tray on the bed. He stirred the soup a little and set the spoon in Castiel's hand.

"Eat slowly," Dean commanded softly. "Try to finish the bowl and then I have some cold pills and water for you to take."

Castiel accepted the soup and ate sluggishly, more out of tiredness than adherence to Dean's order. The warm soup warmed Castiel better than any balm and a soft, nasally sigh left his lips. Dean smiled gently, watching over Castiel while he ate. It was quiet except for the sound of heavy breathing and slurping. Once Castiel was done, Dean took the bowl and replaced it with a glass of water and a plastic thing of pills.

Castiel had noticed that all pill intake was closely monitored by Dean and every time he even reached for them, a small amount of fear entered Dean's eyes. He chose not to comment on it but the look unnerved him sometimes.

"Hey, Castiel?" Dean asked out of the blue. "Do you regret it? Turning human? I mean, not that you had much of a choice but if you were… You know, given a choice, would you choose to be an angel again?"

Castiel blinked in a perplexed manner while searching the face of his hunter. There was a blank look on Dean's face, one of those 'poker' faces he had tried to explain to Castiel once. He did not understand why Dean had chosen this moment to ask him this question but he understood the motivation behind it. His eyes softened; his hunter was always so transparent at times like these.

"Sometimes I wish that I still had my powers," Castiel started. "I would never have to deal with this sickness and I could heal your pain. I could be of more assistance during hunts. It frustrates me immensely when I cannot reach you in time."

"You help plenty," Dean argued but his jaw snapped shut when Castiel held up his hand.

"If given the choice, I would choose to remain here on Earth with you and your family," Castiel finally answered. "This life is difficult and painful at times, but at others it is the greatest joy in the entirety of my Father's creation. I love our family, forged by fire and tested by trial. I love that I can share this happiness with you and your brothers and our children." Dean tried not to blush at the mention of 'our children' but judging by the knowing smile on Castiel's lips, he was failing miserably. "Besides, who else is going to watch your cholesterol and ensure that you don't eat your body weight in burgers and die of a heart attack? I don't have my powers anymore to help you clear out your arteries."

"Hey!" Dean squawked, flushing bright red. "You're one to talk. You once downed more than a hundred of those bad boys."

"I was an angel under the influence of Famine!" Castiel shot back, flustered. "It doesn't count!"

"Sure, Cas," Dean rolled his eyes with a smirk, "Whatever you need to tell yourself."

"Does not count," Castiel retorted, arms crossed against his chest defensively.

The tense mood had dissipated and they were grinning like loons.

"Go back to sleep, Cas," Dean said, "Once you get better, I'll make you those burgers you like."

Dean made to stand up and take the tray with him but a hand on his forearm stopped him.

"Can you stay until I fall asleep?" Castiel asked hesitantly.

"I can do you one better," Dean grinned, getting up from his chair. "Scoot over."

"Dean, there's no need," Castiel began to complain though a smile wormed its way onto his lips. "You'll get sick-."

"Winchester men are built like oxen," Dean proclaimed proudly as he made himself comfortable in the space Castiel provided for him. "We don't get sick so easily. Don't worry about me and focus on getting better, you hear me?"

A hand curled around his, lacing their fingers together between them.

Castiel smiled and closed his eyes. "Yes, Dean."

Two days after that, Dean lay sniffling in their room, glaring daggers at Castiel who sat next to him, handing him a bowl of soup with a pointed look.

"You did this to me," the hunter accused with a nasally voice. His nose whistled comically with every inhalation, causing Castiel's lip to twitch upward.

"I warned you," Castiel scolded.

"I'm gonna die," Dean moaned dramatically, throwing a hand over his eyes. His head ached and throbbed with the motion and he groaned. Castiel pulled the towel off his forehead and re-soaked it in cold water before putting it back on again.

"You're not going to die," Adam said blandly, holding up the thermometer. "Suck it up and maybe next time don't sleep in the same bed as the man with the cold."

"Worth it," Dean whispered to Castiel secretly with a mischievous yet soft smile on his lips. And as an answering smile lit up Castiel's face and a hand grasped his, dry palms and strong, elegant fingers entangling with his own, Dean knew that Castiel was worth everything. Every single time.

A/N:Continue or not?

Something I've been working on since the mini hiatus I took because of school. I've been typing this one for a while now, little bits at a time. The next one shouldn't take as long but we'll see. Please review. It really does motivate me to work faster.