What a Difference a Fever Makes
Summary: 1-shot. Sam falls sick unexpectedly leaving Dean to deal with a sick brother & an out of time grandfather who understands very little of what Sam being sick means to Dean or how vastly different Sam is when sick. *Sick!Sam and caring/protective!Dean with Henry trying his best.* Set during 08x12 As Time Goes By.
Warnings: Maybe for some language but nothing serious.
Spoilers/Tags: If you haven't seen Season 8 then there might be some. It's not directly tagged to 08x12 As Time Goes By since this is set during the episode.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. This is written for the fun of it and for fellow fans.
Author Note: I suppose I could say this is a take on a prompt from a prompt. I needed sick Sam with some healing and brotherly schmoop with Henry along for the ride. This is my first attempt at writing Henry Winchester so I hope he comes out well.
Also, you can find me for questions, comments or chatting on Facebook under morgana07. Thanks!
SPN SPN SPN SPN
He didn't like storming out of the motel room to leave Sam to cope with everything but it was either get the hell out for an hour or so or else he'd show his newly arrived grandfather, the man his father had lost as a child, just what kind of hunter he really way.
Oh, Dean Winchester knew exactly what his little brother would be saying to him right now. Sam would explain calmly that Henry Winchester, their late Father's father, who'd literally jumped out of their closest in another run of the mill motel, was a man out of his own time.
Henry's mannerisms, his speech, his attitude reflected a time long gone and a legacy that neither Winchester brother had even known existed.
His opinions of hunters as mindless apes in comparison to the learned Men of Letters was something as engrained to his personality as Dean's hate of witches or demons was.
Of course that was what Dean loved most about his little brother; Sam's ability to spin crap in the best way if it meant keeping his brother from shooting someone…namely their over opinionated grandfather.
"Why couldn't we have one grandparent that didn't make me want to disown the bloodline?" he asked himself as he scrubbed a hand over his face, picked up his hardly touched beer when his phone rang with a tone he knew was Sam's.
He thought of ignoring it…for all of three seconds. He'd left Sam alone with a guy out of time and some demon chick who'd also stepped from their closet on the loose so he couldn't really ignore his brother.
"Hey," he sighed upon answering. "What's up?"
The beer that was almost to his lips was forgotten at Henry's voice. "How the hell did you figure out how to work Sam's phone?" he demanded with was almost a groan. "I can't even work that thing."
"I took it to the motel office and asked the woman at the desk to bring up a list of numbers. I assumed Sam would have you listed," Henry replied simply, an odd strain to his normally steady and usually stilted voice. "Dean, you need to come back."
"I need to avoid you until I decide who I pissed off this week," Dean shot back and then frowned. "Why are you on Sam's phone anyway?" he asked, suddenly worried. "Damn it, Henry. Did Abbadon come back or…"
"No, no, it's not that," the man John Winchester hardly spoke of assured him quickly then coughed while something seemed to crash in the background. "Sam is…Sam woke up with a headache and chills. He asked for you but then went into the bathroom and…I think he's barricading himself in."
Dean stared at his phone. "Sam's barricading himself in the…" he blinked at what else had been said. "Wait. He woke up with chills and a headache? Was he coughing?" he asked while asking himself who the hell hated him this decade.
He knew those symptoms and once Henry confirmed the cough and the slurred soft voice much unlike the Sam that had fallen to sleep only hours earlier Dean knew what he was dealing with…just not how he'd missed it hitting.
"I'll be back in five minutes. Don't try to get him out of there and if he does come out don't go to touch him," he snapped, hanging up to pay his tab and head for the Impala for the short drive back.
Of course just by hearing the short list of symptoms Dean stopped at the store to grab a few things but knew the moment he stepped up to the motel room door to unlock it that Henry did not take instructions well.
"Sam, calm down and listen," Henry was trying to be reasonable but it just made Dean smirk because if he was walking into what he thought he was then reasonable is the last thing Sammy would be right then.
However the blade in his brother's shaking hand as he went to lunge at the agile man was not what Dean expected and he quickly stepped in front of Sam to put his body between his clearly sick brother and their new grandfather.
"Hey!" his voice snapped firm but not as harsh as it had been lately. It was enough to get Sam's glassy eyes to lock on him while he easily disarmed his brother of the demon killing blade. "No stabbing our new grandfather after you wouldn't let me do it. Now, can one of you tell me what the hell's…okay…this is new."
Sam's long arms were wrapping themselves around Dean's chest like he would as a kid when scared or sick and even without the close, if surprising, contact Dean could've felt the fever raging off his brother's sweat soaked skin.
"Where…been?" Sam's words were slurred and in this case he was dropping whole words, both things were huge clues that this was a bit more than a simple case of a mild fever and headache like he'd been expecting.
"Yeah, you're out there, aren't you, little brother?" Dean sighed, not bothering to try to break the hold because he was too knowledgeable in sick Sam and knew right now his brother's fever was spiking close to the dangerous time for ice water bath stage.
Henry stepped back to allow Dean to move Sam over to the bed farthest from the door, an odd habit he'd noticed the boys seemed to have. "He said he had a headache and was chilled when he woke up," he told Dean seriously, sitting in a chair to automatically remove the items from the bags Dean had brought in with him and dropped while intercepting Sam. "He…he wanted you. He seemed to get more agitated the longer you were gone and then didn't remember who I was so…I called you."
"Yeah, sorry about that," Dean smoothed a hand back over Sam's forehead and through his sweat slicked hair, feeling the fever burning and seeing the too huge glassy eyes watching him with a look he hadn't seen since Sam was six and seriously sick. "If I'd have known he was getting sick I…I wouldn't have left.
"Hey there, Sammy. You in there somewhere enough to tell me what's wrong or where you feel bad at?" he asked his brother in a tone of voice totally different than the one Henry had been hearing from his oldest grandson.
Sam was batting his brother's hand away from his face while blinking rapidly and also shooting Henry odd looks from over Dean's shoulder. "Sick," he mumbled, face scrunching up like a child's and in some way Henry understood that with his fever so high that was how Sam might be seeing things.
"Yeah, I can see you're sick, Sammy. Where are you sick?" Dean asked, nudging Sam back so he could lay down but only after he pulled his flannel shirt and t-shirt off. "Head, stomach, throat, pick one."
"Yep," Sam nodded as if his brother knew all the answers while trying to roll off the bed the opposite way as if to get away from Dean and Henry but when Henry started to stand a hand shot out flat to warn him to sit still.
"He won't go far," Dean told him seriously, not looking at Henry but at Sam who had simply flopped on the floor between the beds to pull his duffel over his him and dig into it until he found an old worn hoodie. "Don't put that on until I get the fever down some," he instructed Sam who shot him a bitch face to beat them all. "Way to show Henry how mature you are when sick," he snorted with his tongue stuck in his cheek to keep from smiling. "Bathroom. Tub. Now."
"Bossy," Sam muttered but moved quickly when his brother made an attempt to stand and he was in the bathroom quickly.
Dean waited until Sam couldn't see him before letting out a shaky breath. He'd forgotten during his time in Purgatory and all the stress between then how Sam could be when this sick. "I could drown him for the bossy part," he told himself but quickly decided not to while removing his jacket and flannel overshirt to avoid getting either soaking wet for what he knew was to come. "I'll take care of him. You can sleep on the other bed if you want. I won't be sleeping until his fever breaks and he sleeps."
"Sam's…" Henry paused while trying to search for the correct word.
"Sick," Dean supplied carefully, tone warning since he was willing to take a lot from his 'grandfather' but insults to his sick and fevered little brother would not be among them. "He's fevered. When he gets sick like this he's a little clingy and…you're lucky you didn't see him when he had Lucifer living in his head. Then Sam was real fun to deal with."
"I was going to say Sam is like John when he'd get sick in the middle of the night," Henry didn't miss the way his grandson's shoulders tensed or how his step faltered a little on his way to the bathroom. "John's mother was often away caring for her ailing parents so it was just us and on those times he'd get sick he was like this…though not with the degree of facial expressions Sam seems fond of giving."
Swallowing thickly, Dean wasn't sure what he could say to that since it was still weird to think of his Dad as a little kid much less a regular little kid with actual parents and a life that had changed horribly when Henry vanished and it was assumed had walked away.
Luckily the choice of replying was taken out of his hands when he stepped into the bathroom to freeze, blink, blink again and then carefully reminded himself that his brother was sick, highly fevered and very prone in this stage of the game to taking him literally at his word.
"So, I forgot to actually say jeans and socks off before getting in the tub, didn't I?" he read the fever just by the flushed skin and glassy eyes, smiling fondly as he stepped closer to where Sam was standing in the tub leaning against the wall. "I am so going to make your life miserable when you're better."
Henry Winchester stood in the door to watch his grandsons as Dean, with a lot more care and patience than he expected the older boy to have, worked to get Sam's jeans off but left the boxer briefs but took the socks before sitting his now very cooperative brother into the tub to begin running cold water.
He'd made a quick judgment about Dean once he'd learned his son's sons were hunters rather than Men of Letters. Dean was brash, quick to speak, quick to temper and very impatient while Sam was quieter and seemed to be the opposite of his older brother in nearly every way.
Yet now as he watched them he could see the change come over Dean as he sat on the side of the porcelain tub with a cup he'd grabbed from the sink to begin to pour the cold water over Sam's hot skin, taking special care when he cupped a hand over his face to avoid pouring it in glassy and shocky hazel eyes as he dumped water over long hair.
It stunned Henry that this was a similar routine that he'd done often with John and wondered if Dean had learned this from him but didn't ask because he'd picked up on some unmentioned strain between the boys and John.
"You should've told me you were getting sick, Sam," Dean was saying softly, carding his fingers back through Sam's now wet hair while shooting his brother a well-known warning look not to do what he was considering. "When did it start?"
Sam leaned back in the tub as if testing his body's ability to float in the cold water while gazing up at his calm brother. "Think…I woke up…with a sore throat the other morning," he admitted, voice a little hoarse now and accepted the flavored throat drop his brother had stuffed in his pocket before entering the bathroom.
"Oh, you mean the morning our closet became Grand Central Station to the weird and weirder?" Dean sighed, recalling that Sam had seemed a little pale that morning and he'd thought he'd heard him coughing the night before. "Figures."
"Dean…can I do anything?" Henry asked from the door, accepting that this was beyond him because this seemed like something just between the brothers but hated to be helpless while his own grandson seemed so sick and had gotten sicker because he'd been distracted by both Henry's odd arrival and then of the demon.
Placing a hand on the center of Sam's chest to keep him still at the unexpected voice, Dean fought the instinct to growl. He understood the man was just trying to help and wouldn't understand how odd it was for anyone else to even be around when Sam was so sick.
"If you can use a hotplate and a can opener, you can open that can of soup I bought so it'll be heated when I get him out of the tub," he finally replied while rubbing gentle circles against Sam's chest to calm him and to loosen any congestion since Dean could know hear the tightness when Sam breathed.
The hunter was certain if Henry would do it but a couple minutes later he heard noises from the other room which he assumed was their grandfather attempting to follow instructions. "If he can heat that up without causing a fire he's ahead of Dad in that regards," he decided and then blinked when cold water was splashed up into his face. "I will drown you if you try to get me wet, Sammy."
Sam's head wasn't clear as the fever slowly came down but he felt safe because Dean was back and he wanted to distract his brother from whatever was keeping his attention not locked on him the way it usually was when he was sick.
Soaking Dean had always been a good way to ensure full attention…even if it also wasn't a wise choice but right then Sam wasn't thinking wisely.
Henry had been reading the soup instructions after finally getting the damn can opened with the electric thing he assumed was the so-called can opener when he heard Dean's voice change in mild warning a second before there was a splash, a shout, some cursing and before he could go check on things he stopped at a sound he hadn't heard before and that was Sam's laugh.
"Yeah, laugh it up, Geek boy. You think it's so funny that you got me soaking wet and know I won't get you back because you're so damn sick that you'd just hit me with the puppy eyes from Hell. Just wait. Payback's a bitch and damn, will I pay you back for this," Dean sounded pissed and that made Henry stick his head around to be sure things were fine between the boys.
It was what he found when looking that stopped him from going any further or speaking to remind the older boy that his brother couldn't be held accountable for his actions since he was running a high fever but as he looked Henry smiled a little.
Dean was now kneeling on the water covered floor by the tub, his jeans and t-shirt soaked from whatever Sam had done to cause the water to splash out. His shorter hair also showed signs of getting hit with water but there was no true anger on his rugged face as he allowed Sam to lean his head against his shoulder while settling again in the tub to allow his brother to finish cupping water over his slowly cooling skin.
Henry watched this for another moment before stepping back to finish heating the soup, tomato and rice, while also taking stock of the other items Dean had brought back as if knowing what his brother would want or need.
Bottles of colored drink, some pain pills for the fever, cough drops and cough medicine as well as other medicine for sneezing, sniffling and congestion along with bags of throat drops and a couple of candy bags that Henry could only guess were favorites of Sam.
Sam, when Henry had first met the boys, had seemed so strong and confident and had no issue with stepping in to speak his mind to his brother, now seemed like a much different person with a raging fever and a cough that even Henry could tell wasn't good.
He was leaning heavily against Dean as he was helped up and out of the tub but stood still while his brother quickly but thoroughly dried him off before putting him in all dry and clean clothes that included the worn hoodie and sweatpants. Only then did Dean take a second to change into dry clothes himself.
"Sleep?" Sam asked, eyeing the bed almost longingly.
"After you get some soup down then we'll try to sleep," Dean replied as he helped Sam lay down on the bed but propped him up on some pillows while he turned to see if the soup was ready only to blink when Henry held out a tray with the bowl of soup, some crackers and a bottle of blue Gatorade on it as well as some Ibuprofen. "Thanks."
Henry returned to sit at the table to watch his grandsons as Dean sat on the edge of the bed beside his brother to carefully lean Sam more against his chest. It amused the man to watch as the gruff hunter tested the soup himself to gauge if it was hot enough or too hot for his sick sibling and only when Dean was satisfied did he pick up the spoon.
"Not a baby. Can do it," Sam didn't seem to like the fact that his brother was going to feed him but the first time Sam's shaking hand held the spoon to show him he'd never be able to do it he offered another bitch face but surrendered the utensil. "Hate being sick."
"Yep, you always have and you were usually a really bad patient too, baby boy," Dean smirked, not paying attention to the rarely used nickname that he only used when Sam was seriously ill or he wanted to make a point that his brother was safe since it was a name that Sam had only allowed him to use ever since he was ten and made a huge issue the last time their Dad had tried to call him that. "You going to try to swallow some of this or do you want the accompanying airplane noises and you are way too weak to elbow me."
Henry read lightly through the journal that Dean and Sam told him had been started by his own son when he turned to hunting after the death of his wife by a demon but most of his focus stayed on his grandsons so notice the little things that maybe neither of them were really aware of after growing up together.
The way Dean talked in half sentences that Sam seemed to know what they meant or what he would say next, or the easy way they could communicate with just a look or touch but what really amazed and touched him was the utter trust Sam gave his brother.
These were two grown men who were nearly complete opposites and he'd sensed some underlying strain between them earlier but now there was nothing but Dean caring for his sick brother like he'd been doing it all his life…and from what he had read in the journal it looked like Dean had been.
It took little over an hour for Sam to get the soup down. He managed one cracker but it seemed to satisfy his hovering brother and most of the drink on top of the pills before settling down to sleep.
Henry watched the protective way Dean held Sam against him as he slept restlessly throughout the night, waking every once in a while to look around with wide and wild eyes until he either felt his brother's hand on his neck or touching his hair or Dean spoke softly in a voice that was much quieter and gentler than his normal voice even appeared to be.
It was the fourth time that Dean spoke to soothe his brother back to sleep that Henry realized Dean had a different tone of voice when dealing with Sam while sick and even though it was clear to Henry how tired his elder grandson was he never even tried to doze during the times when Sam was still.
"Why don't you try to sleep?" he finally had to ask, nodding to where Sam was curled with his head tucked against Dean's shoulder.
"Because he'll wake up and if I sleep now I won't be awake when he needs me," Dean shrugged simply, not taking offense to the question. "Once the fever breaks then I'll sleep because he will for at least twelve hours."
It seemed a little strange to Henry that Dean was so certain that his brother would wake up but just before dawn he realized that he'd misjudged his grandson yet again.
He'd been dozing lightly on the other bed when he woke up to the sounds of harsh and violent coughing that soon turned to retching and realized Sam was throwing up. "Dean? Is he alright? Do you need…"
No, Henry could see after he sat up to look that Dean did not need his help as he held and supported Sam as he leaned over the bed to throw up in a trashcan that Henry had no idea when his grandson had even placed there.
"Shh, it's okay, Sammy. I've got'cha. Just relax and let it come up," Dean was talking quietly while using his free hand to card back through still damp hair, his fingers in constant motion as if to keep his brother calm while Sam struggled to breathe until finally he seemed to go limp and just laid where he was. "A little better?"
Sam's thumb raising was his only answer, eyes slowly opening after another moment of silence to look at Dean. "Thanks," he mumbled before rolling over to flop onto his stomach with a hand reaching to clutch a pillow to his chest while his other hand snuck out to just close his fingers over the hem of his brother's t-shirt as if needing to make sure Dean stayed with him a little longer.
"Thanks what awesome big brothers are for, Sammy," Dean assured him, fingers still carding through Sam's hair before settling on the back of his neck to squeeze it in comfort and reaching for the blanket to finally cover his brother with. "His fever broke about an hour ago. It'll still be there but he'd out of the woods and will sleep."
It took a minute for Henry to understand that explanation was for his benefit. "You're good with him," he told Dean seriously, recalling some passages in the journal that he'd read but hadn't understood until now. "You raised him."
"Sam's been mine since he was six months old and I carried him out of our house as it burned," Dean shrugged, not looking at his grandfather as he let his gaze settle on Sam to see the tension slowly leaving his brother as he slept fully now that the fever had gone down enough and some of the sickness had come out. "I'm not saying Dad didn't try but Dad was a little one-tracked minded back then and all he wanted was to find the thing that killed Mom.
"He raised soldiers. I raised Sam so what you've seen here is basically my little brother sick and what I do to make him feel better," Dean slowly did move his head to meet the watchful eyes of the man who brought another side to their already confused lives. "When he's like this, I'm not a hunter. I'm just Sam's big brother and while that may still not make me seem much in your eyes it's what I am and what I'll always be for him."
Henry could see that very easily. He could also see how badly he'd underestimated his oldest grandson. Dean might be a hunter but he was far from mindless and he was also much more than a simple hunter. He was a man who cared far deeper than he let the outside world see and probably only the young man he was so devoted to ever caught a glimpse of that side.
"I'd like to think if whatever happens to me that must keep me from going back to my time didn't happen that your Dad's life would be different but…I can't because I don't know what truly motivated him to become as hard as the man who wrote in that journal," Henry began slowly, standing up to take the step that would put him next to the other bed and again not missing the casual way it seemed Dean tensed.
He didn't miss it and understood that it was far from casual. It was Dean's way of warning him not to come any closer to the bed while Sam slept and he merely nodded. "What I do know is that no matter what else, my son should have been proud of you and your brother. It took a lot of strength for you to grow up like you must have and still look after Sam like this. He's lucky to have you, Dean," he declared and then stepped back.
"No, that's what no one really gets. I'm the lucky one to have him and to have him still trust me after all the crap on our lives," Dean ran his free hand back through his hair before rubbing his gritty eyes. "You're hardly ever see us this way once he's feeling better because Sammy grew up on my no chick flick rule so it's harder now for him to express the emotions that he used to wear on his sleeve."
"You can see them if you're looking, Dean," Henry assured him but knew that other people probably were never allowed close enough to see the complex dynamics of these two brothers. "Will you sleep now?"
"In a while," Dean yawned, fighting his body's desire for sleep. "Once I make sure he's down for the count. Then I'll just crash on his bed since as you can see he's attached to my shirt and it would take a crowbar or me losing the shirt to move until he wakes up."
Henry nodded his acceptance and went to pour coffee from what Sam assured him was a coffeemaker. He smiled as he set a mug for Dean on the nightstand and reached to remove the blanket from the other bed off to cover both his grandsons up with after seeing that in the time it took him to pour the coffee Dean had drifted off.
Noticing that even in his sleep Dean's hand never moved away from Sam's neck, he didn't attempt to touch either because he figured it would be just that simple for him to get something broken if Dean sensed movement close to his brother.
Carefully arranging the cover so both boys were covered, he turned the light between the beds off since the sun now coming in the windows offered plenty of light as he sat at the table to give the journal another look while deciding it was time that someone else looked after these boys while they slept and while he debated the best way to beat Abbadon Henry decided he could at least do that for the sons of the son he never got to see grow up.
Sam's fever broke fully sometime the next afternoon and while Henry didn't like knowing the demon that had followed him to this time was loose, he also got it after Dean's snarling response that no one was going anywhere until Sam no longer sounded like a choked frog.
"He means well," Sam's hoarse voice took Henry by surprise some hours later after Dean had reluctantly agreed to go for clear soda and popsicles for Sam's raw throat. "Dean…he means well, Henry. He just doesn't always take it well when I'm sick."
Closing the journal, Henry turned on the chair to gaze at his youngest grandson as it hit him that while Dean's manner of protecting was more physical he was being given a dose of how Sam protected his older brother though he also suspected Sam could react physically as well if the other night with the knife was any indication.
Hearing the Impala return, Henry met Sam's eyes but seen how they were flitting between him and the door as if waiting to relax fully only when his brother was safely inside.
"You're both good men," he decided to tell both boys before stepping outside the motel room for a breath of air and to rethink a few things.
"Huh. Did I miss something while out getting you these stupid grape things?" Dean asked, tossing his jacket while handing his brother half a popsicle while claiming the other half for himself like he'd always done.
"Not sure," Sam shrugged still not feeling well enough to care and figuring he'd find out in the morning when he knew they'd be moving. "Maybe he'd figuring out hunters aren't too bad afterall."
Dean kept quiet about that but settled on the edge of the bed like he'd been doing, knowing that Sam was still sicker than he was letting on just by the fact that he didn't make a fuss about him hovering.
This was how Henry found them when he stepped back into the room. Both boys on one bed arguing softly over the TV and for some reason this is what he took as normal for them so he didn't comment. Just sat down to take it in while wondering how Dean would react when he found out the Sam wanted something called Lucky Charms for dinner.
"What? No! You are not having cereal for dinner and don't even try the puppy eyes on…damn it, Sammy," Dean groaned a few minutes before banging his head against the wall. "I regret ever teaching you that."
"Should he have those after being sick?" Henry asked while Dean poured a bowl full of dry cereal but also heated soup up.
"No, but you try refusing the Puppy Eyes of Doom and then talk to me," Dean snorted, eyeing Henry with a sigh. "Lucky Charms is comfort food for Sam since he ate 'em as a kid and since he's gone all green food and healthy on me lately when he's sick he wants them. He'll probably put some in the soup and munch on the rest thru the night."
Carrying the tray over to sit back down with it, Dean nudged the spoon into Sam's steadier hand. "Eat the soup then you can have the Lucky Charms."
Dumping a handful of the cereal into his soup, Sam's eyes were light as they dared his brother to make a comment and only proceeded to eat the soup once Dean settled beside him to flick the TV onto some history show that Sam knew his brother would sleep through in under ten minutes.
It was Henry who took the tray away once the soup was gone and Sam held the bowl of disappearing shaped marshmallow and cereal while watching the show and Dean slept. The time displaced Man of Letters was content at the table and didn't realize until much later how well the Winchester legacy would be carried on through these two young men he was proud to have at least met.
A/NII: Thanks for reading and I hope Henry came out alright. Look for more stories coming soon too.