First off, thank all y'all for the lovely reviews. Made my day and kept me warm and fuzzy for the rest of it ;) So here's the promised second chapter, it's a bit on the lighter side and hopefully an acceptable follow up and conclusion. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: No one handed over the rights in the middle of the night and Dean hasn't given up swearing for Lent or anything so...
Personal Rant: A lot of this is just wishful thinking. For instance, Sam emerging from a shower freshly SHAVEN. Because, dear lordy...he FINALLY cut his hair and that's all good and dandy, but now I just want to shake Jared by his remarkably broad shoulders and be like, "Dude, shave your damn face! Cause you have such a pretty one and nobody can freaking see it anymore! It's really not a Herculean task!"...*takes deep breath and straightens shirt*...My apologies...anyway, go read! :)
Sam sleeps for twenty-six hours.
Dean for about ten of those.
He wakes himself up around four AM to remove the empty drip. A little color has returned to Sam's cheeks and his fever broke a while ago if the drenched bed sheets are anything to go by.
Everything is on autopilot because it's freaking four in the morning. Gestures and movements seared into his sense memory from years of practice.
Check Sammy's fever. Readjust pillows. Try to make Sammy drink. Spill water. Clumsy pat on Sammy's arm. Drop dead back into chair.
When Dean actually wakes up the following afternoon, he's restless but he can't make himself leave Sam's side for more than a few minutes. Twice to use the bathroom and once to grab Sam's laptop.
Sam hasn't moved once since Dean laid him down last night.
He spends a few hours idly searching the internet for consequences of the previous evening. There's quite a bit of shit to sift through but at the moment he just can't bring himself to care all the much.
His brother's alive, and they aren't leaving until Sammy's functioning at a hundred percent, if Dean has anything to say about it. And that's all that matters right now.
Dean sighs wearily and scrubs a hand over his prickly jaw. Because knowing Sammy, who will insist on cleaning up the mess he'll say is all his fault, it'll be more like forty-eight percent and then they'll be back to hunting down wingless dicks - before they vandalize the planet or whatever the hell they're planning on doing to it.
Dean tries to persuade himself that's better than the ten percent they were down to last night.
Sam stirs, fusses softly in his sleep and then rolls over onto his stomach.
He's not quite sure why, but that small flurry of movement, the hand tucking underneath the pillow while the other sprawls across wrinkled sheets, head burying face first into the soft cotton, that familiar position causes something, a thorny knot buried inside Dean's gut, to unclench.
Because that's been Sam's favorite position since he was little and didn't know he had one. Because it's just so…normal.
Because only when he feels safe - consciously or not- does he roll onto his stomach.
Sammy's own little version of sense memory.
A weight seems to lift off Dean's chest and suddenly he can breathe a little easier. He didn't even know he was struggling to.
Because it's okay. Sam's gonna be okay.
Dean realizes he's actually starving. He should probably get something in his stomach before he's worse off than Sam.
Extracting himself from the chair is harder than it ought to be. It's like his body morphed into the contours during the night and now his ass is basically glued to the cushion.
Every joint protests, every muscle aches. His knees pop as he pries himself up and proceeds to crack his back.
Caffeine. Caffeine would be awesome right about now.
Dean sucks down three mugs of coffee and downs half a bag of jerky before leaving the kitchen to check on things. God bless Mr. Folger.
Sam's still out cold. But his breathing is slow and even and deep. Restorative.
Dean takes a quick shower then grabs the duffel of weapons from the car and carefully cleans and polishes each one; the familiar, heavy weight of metal in his hands allowing him a tangible sense of control.
Control's been a pretty elusive bitch lately.
After the task is complete he's sits twiddling his thumbs. Waiting sucks balls.
So he decides to do a load of laundry. Okay, make that a few loads. Can't exactly go hunting down demons in a bathrobe. Hmm…then again, who's to say?
He chuckles to himself and he decides he could definitely pull that off and then the smile turns into a grimace because why the fuck does Sam have a pair of neon green boxers?!
At least he assumes they belong to Sam because they sure as hell don't belong to Dean and if they're not Sam's, then Liberace is squatting in their dungeon - and he's commando. Oh god.
Dean shudders and daintily drops the god-awful pair of underwear in with the rest of the load.
Normally, Sam's the designated launderer. Dean had no clue what he was missing out on.
He doesn't mean to, but he ends up falling asleep on the couch in spite of himself.
The next thing he knows, he hears someone shuffling slowly up the stairs. Dean rubs the sleep from his eyes and peeks over the back of the couch.
Sam sort of still looks like he just stumbled off the set of the Walking Dead but he's moving around steadily enough under his own power.
Still groggy but clearly a little more with it.
Messy strands of greasy hair stick to his neck and for like the fifth time, Dean mentally puts pair of clippers on his shopping list.
"Hey," He starts to get up and realizes just in time his robe has gone all Benedict Arnold.
Fumbling awkwardly with the stray ties, he wriggles and writhes under cover of a throw pillow. And then he can't recover enough balance to keep his ass from crashing onto the floor. A muffled oomf of air accompanies his fall.
He bounces up so quickly that he gives himself a head rush. He ignores the dizzy sensation, places both hands on his hips and gives Sam a once over.
"How you feeling?" Dean can feel the flush of red creeping up his neck and burning the tips of his ears.
Sam's either too zonked to notice, doesn't care, or is graciously choosing to ignore Dean's mini seizure as he shuffles over and lowers himself gingerly on the edge of the couch.
"Um, okay I guess," his voice is still raw but he offers Dean a small smile. He clears his throat and even though his forehead is still creased with pain, it's no longer unbearable.
"Feel kind of loopy. Fuzzy?…I don't know." He runs a hand through his hair. "What the hell did you give me?"
Dean ignores the question and starts moving towards the kitchen.
"You hungry?" he calls over his shoulder.
Sam seems to consider a moment before looking rather surprised as he replies, "Uh, yeah, actually. I could eat."
And Dean is so goddamn giddy he nearly skips the last couple of steps into the kitchen.
"Waffles sound good? I bought this waffle iron on sale a few weeks back and never got a chance to give it a test run."
"A waffle iron? You bought a waffle iron?" Sam's incredulous chuckle follows Dean down the expanse of hallway. "Do you even know how to make waffles?"
"Dude, it's like flour and milk and you crack a few eggs. How hard can that be? And shut up. You won't be harassing me when you taste these mothers. Syrup, strawberries," he reveals a finger on his left hand for each item as he continues the list, "…powdered sugar," and a final grand sweep of his hand, "-the whole nine yards, Sammy."
Sam's huff of laughter ends in a chest-rattling cough and Dean's immediately moving towards him.
Sam holds up a hand, the other braced against the wall, "I'm okay."
And Dean really wants to believe him. He never wanted anything so badly.
Because Sam said he was hungry, and he actually just indulged Dean's lame ass Betty Crocker rant with a laugh. Dean hasn't heard Sam's genuine my brother's a moron laugh for way too long. And no, he didn't miss it…even though he kind of did.
But the kid is paper white and he's weaving on his feet. Just barely, but Dean can tell the room is doing a slow, lazy waltz.
Sam leans heavily into the doorframe for a moment before making a visible effort to straighten.
And apparently Dean looks like he's about to have a fit because Sam's expression softens and an understanding flash of dimples appear when he smiles, trying his best to reassure, "Really, Dean. I'm good."
It takes all of Dean's willpower to not throw Sam over his shoulder and toss him back into bed.
"I'm gonna go shower. Never thought your own body odor could make you nauseous," Sam manages another weak laugh as he turns and slowly makes his way towards the bathroom.
Dean clenches his fists to his sides because he's not going to tail his little brother around like a damn lap dog.
Instead Dean tries to concentrate on mixing ingredients and only manages to relax some when he hears water running.
By the time Sam reemerges, odor free and freshly shaven, Dean has an entire spread carefully laid out.
"Man, you weren't kidding about those strawberries." Sam pushes a few damp strands behind his ears and accepts the plate Dean offers him.
"Nope. Eat up."
Sam doesn't have to be told twice. He takes his first bite of strawberry laden waffle and Dean swears he hears Sam moaning contentedly to himself.
"Aw man," Sam grins around another mouthful. "Who'd ever guess you're Martha Stewart under all that leather?"
"Whatever, Sleeping Beauty. Drink your damn orange juice."
"Seriously though, Dean. These are awesome."
Dean hides his proud smirk by digging into his own breakfast. They actually are really good.
"Yeah," Dean swirls another bite in the excess amount of syrup swimming on his plate. "Martha's got nothin' on this sweet ass."
Sam actually finishes his entire waffle and manages half the glass of orange juice.
It's fucking Christmas morning and is that the hallelujah chorus?
They dump their dishes in the sink and Dean steers his brother away from the library and towards the TV.
"Dean-" Sam starts to protest but Dean cuts him off.
"Books and research can wait, geek boy. The Knicks, on the other hand, wait for no man." He plunks Sam down on the couch and searches for the remote.
Sam looks like he wants to argue but abruptly shuts his mouth when Dean squeezes his shoulder and sort of pleads, "Hey, you just got vertical, lets take it easy for a little while, huh?"
So Sam sighs, resigns himself to the coddling and leans back into the couch.
A half an hour later they're both pretty into the game. Up by two points in the third quarter.
But then Dean sees Sam out of the corner of his eye. His brother's expression is slightly pinched and his right hand has slid under his shirt. He's rubbing light circles over his stomach.
Dean feels his heart sinking.
"Hey," he gently nudges Sam's shoulder to get his attention. "You okay?"
Sam swallows and seems to consider a second before answering.
"Um, yeah. Just sore I think."
"Right," Dean tries to swallow down the anxiousness that suddenly has his gut twisting into knots all over again.
Sam fidgets uneasily under his brother's scrutiny for a few minutes before giving up the pretense of watching the television in exasperation.
"Dean, would you stop staring, please? I'm fine, I promise."
"I know, Sammy. I just-" And suddenly Dean feels the familiar throbbing ache. Feels the residual pang of loss bloom cruelly and spread through the cavity of his chest and shit he's not having another breakdown.
"Just don't lie to me about this shit because I need you to stay in one fucking piece this time, alright?" He practically yells in Sam's face. His voice is rough and scratchy.
At first Sam looks startled. He blinks down into his lap while Dean rests his elbows on his knees and cradles his head. The heels of his hands dig into his eye sockets.
"M'sorry…" Dean mutters shakily.
"You don't have anything to be sorry for, Dean."
He starts to get up from the couch.
"You want a beer or-" but Sam's arm shoots out and then he's gently tugging Dean back down beside him.
"Hey," Sam whispers. He shifts his position to face his brother and clears his throat.
"Look, I know it's been rough. These past few months haven't exactly been a picnic. And I know all this hasn't been easy for you-"
"Dean, let me finish." Now Dean's the one staring into his lap and the thread hanging off his shirt has suddenly become very interesting.
"This all really sucks, it does. But man, I meant what I said last night." Then he looks slightly puzzled and amends, "Or whenever…"
"Dean," And now it's Sam's hand on his shoulder and the gentle gesture forces Dean to meet his little brother's soft eyes and Dean is so not choking up. He isn't.
"I'm not going anywhere."
"Yeah," Dean looks back down into his lap, sighs wearily and starts to get up again. "I'm getting you something to drink."
"Okay," is all Sam says as he leans his head back on the couch, watching Dean retreat into the kitchen.
He returns a few minutes later, totting a beer in one hand and a bottle of Gatorade in the other, and finds Sam fast asleep.
Head lolling against the couch, mouth comically agape and hair falling untidily over his face. Jesus, kid.
Dean grabs an extra blanket off his bed and settles Sam down onto the cushions. He rests a hand on Sam's forehead to check for fever.
Satisfied, he's just pulling away when he feels Sam unconsciously lean into the familiar palm and why does he have to love the kid so damn much?
Then he sits back down, drinks his beer, and watches the rest of the game while his little brother rests.
One day at a time…
And voila! Hope y'all enjoyed!