A/N: I have missed you guys! It's been way too long since I've posted anything and hopefully now I'll be able to get back into it. The current prompt over at the Oh-Sam LJ gave me the jumpstart I needed, so here you go.
"Can't believe you're still doing this to me, Sammy," Dean muttered, flipping on the cold water tap and squeezing the wash cloth under the stream of water in the sink of the motel before shaking it out and reaching for the bottle of ibuprofen perched on the ledge.
Henry, carefully keeping an arm's length distance between himself and his much gruffer and obviously agitated grandson, had to lean a bit farther than he'd have liked into Dean's personal space to catch what Dean was saying. He tilted his head questioningly. "Beg pardon?"
Dean looked up at him and frowned. "What?" Then his expression softened and he just shook his head dismissively. "Wasn't talking to you. Never mind." He snatched the damp cloth and the full bottle of ibuprofen off the sink and sidled through the space Henry vacated to accommodate him.
There was a rustle of sheets and a low moan from the bed farthest from the door, the one Sam had crashed on still fully clothed at the first signs of fever last night, where Dean had sat and unlaced his shoes, pulled off Sam's jacket and overshirt and hitched down his jeans—tossing the whole pile of discarded clothes into a corner next to the TV stand. Henry had hovered awkwardly, floating from one unoccupied space in the room to another, until Dean just about lost his mind and demande—politely requested—that Henry run down to the nearby gas mart for more drugs and chicken soup with stars, and lemon-lime soda, and a box of bendy straws if he could find them.
"Here, wait, I'll write that all down for you," Dean said, the crease between his brows deepening as he tossed clutter off the desk to rummage for a pen. Henry smoothly pulled a slick, silver ball point from his jacket pocket and offered it to Dean, beginning to see that Dean's distress was borne more out of concern for his brother than the ill-tempered disposition of the "ape-like hunter" that had unfortunately been groomed into him.
Dean glanced up and took the pen with a swift look of gratitude, listing each of the items needed for Sammy care in his brusque, no-nonsense scrawl on one of the rice-thin pages at the back of a Gideon Bible. He ripped out the page irreverently and handed the list and the pen to Henry with a muttered thanks before turning his full attention back to Sam.
It took Henry about 45 minutes to collect all the items on Dean's list, and as he shifted the bag to one hand to retrieve his motel key, he nearly dropped everything at the horrified scream he heard coming from inside the room.
"Dean!" he shouted, pounding on the door with one hand and fumbling for his key with the other. "Dean, let me in. It's Henry! Is it Abaddon, Dean? Is it the demon, is it back?"
The door to the room burst open with Dean on the other side, yanking Henry forward and nearly dislocating his arm in the process. Henry turned indignantly toward him, and saw that Dean's face was drawn and haggard, as if he'd aged ten years in the short time Henry had been gone.
"It's not the demon," Dean said in a low voice, holding his hands out as if they should talk about this calmly. "Just… be cool, all right? It's Sam."
Harry's gaze traveled to the bed where Sam had been resting when he left, and saw only tangled sheets torn from the mattress and pillows cast aside. "What's—?"
A terrified yell that was unmistakably Sam's broke through the bathroom door, followed by pounding and more shrieking.
At the sound of Sam in distress, Dean seemed to lose any awareness that Henry was even in the room with him anymore. He raced over and pressed up to the bathroom door, his hand splayed open against it as if he could feel or sense Sam inside.
"Sammy?" His voice shook, but it was measured and calm. "Sam, it's me. It's Dean. You—" Dean frowned and looked down, clearing his throat. "You're not there anymore, remember? You're not… it's the fever, Sam. It's your mind playing tricks on you."
From behind the bathroom door, Sam broke out in a laugh that morphed into a furious shout. "No! You're a liar! You've always lied. I know what's real. You can't do this to me. No matter how many times you show me this, show me Dean, you can't make me believe it. You can't make me. You can do WHATEVER THE FUCK ELSE YOU WANT TO ME—" Dean flinched as something loud and heavy crashed against the door between them.
"Sam—" He pressed his hand harder, more desperately flat against the door. "Sammy, listen."
"Don't...call me that. Only he…gets to call me that."
Henry stepped as close to Dean as he dared. "Is he all right?"
An expression like pain passed over Dean's face and he straightened up, seeming to steel himself. "Okay, Satan. Playtime's over. Get out of my brother's head."
Dean tried the knob one last time just to confirm that Sam had still locked himself in. Then tucked his shoulder and threw his entire weight against the door. The frame splintered easily, and Dean nudged the door out of the way to reveal his Sammy wedged in between the toilet and the bathtub, shuddering and grinding his fists into his forehead. His knuckles were raw and bleeding and he had a gash on the back of one hand, but Dean was more concerned about how hot Sam's skin felt to the touch as he gently lifted Sam to his feet. Sam swayed on unsteady legs, and Dean immediately set him down on the toilet seat lid.
"Whoa, buddy. You with me? Henry!" he called out into the hall. "Bring me the thermometer!"
"That was not on the list of items you asked me to… oh, wait, I see it. It's in your bag."
Sam held on to Dean for support, letting his head roll forward with exhaustion until something made him blink and he jerked back from some imaginary replay of the cage. Dean held on and murmured that it wasn't real.
Henry handed Dean the thermometer, and Dean held it up for his barely conscious brother. "We're gonna do one of these, Sammy, okay? Remember this? Nothing scary or weird or fucked up about it, just a thermometer. If anything weird happens in your head, you give my hand a squeeze and I'll squeeze yours and that's how you'll know what's real. You trust me?"
Sam exhaled resolutely. "Trust you," he whispered, his fingers working their way down from Dean's arm to clutch his palm, fingers interwoven for security.
Awed by the solidarity between the two men, Henry took a step closer and watched Sam accept the thermometer from Dean with obvious trepidation. Sam flinched twice from threats no one else could see, squeezing Dean's hand hard, and Dean squeezed back. "I got you out, Sammy. It's not real. He can't touch you."
After a moment, Henry leaned close to Dean and asked, in a low voice, "Has he always been like this?"
The question made Dean visibly stiffen as he took the thermometer from Sam, glancing at its high, but not quite emergency-level, readout.
"No, he hasn't," Dean said tiredly. "I guess you might call it the price tag that came with saving the whole goddamn world."
"He saved the…"
"It's a long story, don't worry about it. He'll be all right once he kicks this fever's ass. Won't ya, Sammy."
Dean reached down and slid an arm around Sam's middle, coaxing Sam to stand and ensuring that he'd be able to take all his brother's weight as long as he needed to.
Thank you for reading! If you liked it, leave me a review and I'll squee a lot!
Written for the Triple Play Comment Fic meme from this lovely prompt from Cherry916 over at Oh-Sam:
2. Henry Winchester, Dean Winchester
3. Fevered/Delirious Sam thinking he's still in the cage