A/N: Hey everyone! Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been swamped with a lot of stuff. Anyway. I'd asked on my Facebook page for requests if anyone had any and this one was a request by LilyBolt who asked for brotherly care and fluff during Sam's time doing the trials. This is set after Season 8, Episode 19 "Taxi Driver." So spoilers if you haven't caught up yet.
Hope you all like this.
*Follow me on Facebook as 'Spnxbookworm' for fic updates or just to chat :)
Having no particular destination in mind, Dean drove down the highway, only intent on reaching the bunker before nightfall. Sam was fast asleep, his long legs cramped in the space between the seat and the dashboard and his head resting against the cool glass of the window. They'd resorted to pulling up the windows and cranking the A.C. for a bit as the hot summer air became a little too hot to be comfortable.
Dean glanced over to see his baby brother's sleeping form. Ever since they had completed the second trial, Sam only seemed to be getting worse. Honestly, Dean was panicking. He knew that things between them were different this time. They'd come to a sort of truce, but tension still brewed under the surface. He hated himself for taunting Sam for not looking for him while he was in purgatory. But he still felt so raw, that the anger would just burst forth. Truthfully, he was hurt that after all they'd been through, after all they'd done for each other; Sam didn't even try to find out what had happened to him. The kid had just assumed that he had died.
Dean shuddered reflexively as he thought of the bloody tissues he'd discovered in the trash. His thoughts then wandered to when Sam had gone into hell to get Bobby's soul out and send it to heaven. He remembered with unfortunate clarity how he'd felt his heart skip a beat when he'd found out that the back door to hell was through purgatory. Having been there for a year, he'd feared he'd lose his brother. Benny had been the only option left and he still felt he owed the vampire for his sacrifice. Inside, he'd known that Benny wouldn't want out again, but hey, kill a guy for hoping. He'd seen the all too familiar look in Sam's eyes as he stumbled out through the portal in Maine. It had been the look Dean had worn when he'd finally gotten out. Dean had let all chick – flick rules go to hell as he'd pulled Sam into an embrace, only thankful that he was alive and walking. He'd felt whole again and he'd realized that the fighting had been for nothing.
But even then, he still taunted Sam and could see the hurt and guilt reflect in his brother's eyes. Somehow, he knew that there could be a deeper reason, a more sinister one to stop his brother looking for him, but his fresh out of purgatory mind wasn't ready to comprehend and accept any other theory other than the one that said that his brother had, in a way, abandoned him.
But ever since Sam had taken on the trials, Dean had stopped thinking about Sam and his reason to not find him. He only wanted one thing. Dean didn't want to lose his brother on yet another we-gotta-save-this-crappy-world job.
"Stop thinking Dean," he muttered to himself, knowing that brooding on these issues wasn't going to help matters. He once again chanced a glance at Sam and frowned seeing sweat lining his brother's forehead in spite of the A.C. He laid a gentle hand to his brother's forehead while keeping an eye on the road. "You're burning up again, Sammy," he muttered to no one in particular as worry creeped up on him. Sam stirred under Dean's touch and Dean quickly put both hands on the wheel, knowing full well that Sam would tease him into oblivion for acting like a 'mother-hen' again.
Feeling familiar hands on his forehead pulled Sam out of an uneasy sleep. Nightmares of purgatory and hell had plagued him for the past couple of weeks. He groaned at the start of a slight headache as he sat up and yawned, deciding not to tell his big brother about the nightmares for now.
"Morning sleepy head," Dean chanted as he smirked.
"What time is it?" Sam asked as he pinched the bridge of his nose, hoping the headache would ease off before Dean detected it with his all too sensitive big brother radar.
"Almost 4 pm. Don't worry. We're almost home," Dean said.
Sam smiled. Home. It wasn't necessarily how he looked at it, but for Dean, he knew what it meant. They'd never had a proper, permanent stable place to live. A place that said secure or safe. And honestly, Sam felt safe when they were at the bunker. Sam nodded to Dean's answer and leaned back into the seat, already feeling exhausted. These trials were doing something to him, he knew it. Feeling sleep claiming him again, Sam decided to surrender since they would be reaching the bunker in a short time.
Dean sighed as he saw his brother drift off to sleep for the third time since they'd left their last location. It honestly scared him how weak and fragile Sam looked. He wasn't supposed to look like that. "We'll figure something out, I promise," he whispered.
"Hey Shaggy, we're here," Dean said as he gently shook Sam to wake him up.
Sam mumbled sleepily as he opened his eyes. "De'n?"
Dean smirked. "The one and only, though I prefer Daphne," he joked as he stepped out of the car.
Sam snorted as he opened his door. "I'm not shaggy dude," he said.
"Uh, yes you are. Have you seen the hair he has? And his love for dogs? You are totally Shaggy," Dean teased. The humour fled as Sam stumbled while stepping out of the car. Dean was immediately at his side, holding him up. "Crap. You okay?" he asked.
As Sam stepped out of the car, a wave of dizziness hit him and he struggled to keep upright by hanging onto the door. A second later he felt Dean by his side.
"Yeah, I think. Sorry, just got light-headed," Sam said as he gratefully held onto Dean to keep his balance.
"Don't apologize man. Come on, let's get you inside. No research. You need rest," Dean said he helped Sam towards the entrance to the bunker. He let Sam lean against the wall while he rummaged for the key in his pocket. As he unlocked the door and turned to Sam, he was greeted by the infamous bitch face. Dean smirked.
"You are not in a position to argue dude. Trust me, sleep and some tomato rice soup can do wonders," Dean said. Sam sighed, admitting defeat. He knew that if it came to it, Dean would wrestle Sam into his bedroom and it wouldn't be too hard considering his recent state.
"Fine," he conceded. Dean smiled, victorious.
Sam was stubborn and didn't accept Dean's help in getting inside the bunker. Even then, Dean stayed just a step behind, ready to catch him if he fell. He sighed as Sam finally wobbled his way to his room. Dean walked towards the kitchen to make Sam's soup, muttering to himself about pain in the ass brothers.
A half hour later, Dean had soup, some crackers, a glass of water and a glass of milk on his tray and was carefully walking towards Sam's room when he heard it. Sam coughing. "Crap," he muttered as he laid the tray on a side table and rushed towards his baby brother's room with the glass of water in hand. As he rushed in, he saw Sam hunched over, sitting on the bed with his legs stretched out in front of him, trying to breathe through the pain in his throat. He tried not to be too alarmed at the amount of blood on Sam's hand. Snagging a tissue box from the crammed study table in the room, he sat down next to Sam, depositing the glass of water on the bedside table.
"Come on Sammy, just breathe. It's okay. It's almost over," Dean chanted again and again.
Sam had tried to sleep, but he felt too awake. After 20 minutes he gave up and decided to do some research. The history of the Men of Letters fascinated him and he'd been smart enough to get some books to his room. He'd been on the process of getting out of bed and to his study table when the coughing fit had overcome him.
Seeking only Dean, he'd been glad when not 10 minutes later, Dean turned up and was next to him, helping him through. He hooked onto Dean's words, the only thing that gave him strength and took little breaths, trying to conquer the coughing fit. He gratefully accepted the wad of tissues handed to him and wiped off his mouth and then his hands as he finally felt easy enough to breathe.
Dean smiled in relief as Sam finally stopped coughing and was taking in small breaths of air. "You good?" he asked. Sam nodded as he leaned back against the headboard, too tired to talk. "Here, small sips," Dean said as he held up the glass of water to his brother's mouth. He swatted Sam's hand away when he tried to take the glass. "I don't want to change your bed sheets when you end up spilling the water Sasquatch. Just drink."
Sam snorted thinking Dean was probably right. He took small sips of water and sighed when they eased his raw and burning throat. "Thanks," he whispered.
"Don't mention it. Now, stay put. I'll go get your food," Dean said as he got up and left the room. Sam smiled. He'd missed this side of his brother. The brother that cared for him, the brother that forgot their differences and mistakes, the brother that loved him. He knew Dean was pissed at him for many things, but it warmed him to see that Dean still did his best to work through it, that he promised to help Sam through whatever this was. Sam did see a light at the end of the tunnel, he didn't know exactly what kind of light it was, but if it meant that Dean would still be by his side, it didn't matter.
"Hey, you dozing off on me?" Dean asked as he entered the room to find Sam in the same posture as he'd left him, only to see a blissful, sleepy expression on his face.
"Wha-? No. Just thinking," Sam said.
"Wow, that must hurt," Dean teased, laughing when Sam threw his bitch face at him. "Here. Tomato rice soup, crackers and a glass of milk. Just like old times," Dean said as he set the tray on the bed, picking up the bowl of soup. He smirked when Sam took it from his hands and set it on his own lap.
"No, you don't get to feed me," Sam said, smirking when Dean laughed.
"Okay, okay. Just finish that up and don't choke on it."
Sam laughed as he took the first spoon of soup and gulped it down. Holy crap that tasted good. He suddenly felt ravenous and the soup bowl was empty within 10 minutes. "Wow, that was good," he said as he handed the bowl back to Dean.
Dean had felt a small weight lift off his chest as Sam finished the soup. Sam didn't know it but the kid hadn't eaten for 3 days straight and Dean was all but ready to shove a tube down his brother's throat if it meant that he would eat.
"See? Liked it didn't ya? Okay you want the crackers or just the glass of milk?" Dean asked knowing Sam's habit when he got sick. Sam might not be feeling it but he was giving off heat waves. Dean could feel the heat on his brother's skin.
"Milk," Sam said. Dean had expected just that and gently handed over the glass of milk, smiling wider when Sam finished all of it. Maybe things would get better. For once.
"What are you smiling at?" Sam asked, confused.
"Huh? Nothing. Here. Take these and you can go to sleep," Dean said as he handed over two pills.
"What are these?"
"You do know you're giving off heat like a furnace right? Just take 'em, it'll get the fever down," Dean said as he set the tray on the bedside table. Sam shrugged as he swallowed them with the glass of water Dean handed him.
"No research. You can do whatever you want once you're up," Dean said.
Sam nodded as he shifted and laid down on his bed and closed his eyes. A few minutes later, he still wasn't asleep but he knew Dean would think he'd drifted off. He felt overwhelmed when Dean tugged a blanket over him and wove a hand through his hair when he sat next to Sam.
Dean sighed as he saw Sam drift off to sleep. He frowned seeing the shivers start. He picked up a blanket and draped it over Sam, smirking when it wouldn't cover his feet. Sam was just too tall. He then walked over to his brother's side and sat down, running a fond hand through his brother's hair. He'd gotten used to sitting by Sam like this whenever the kid was sick. He didn't mind it. He smiled when Sam snuggled into his side like he used to as a kid.
"I promise I'll get you through this Sammy. I'm not losing you again," he whispered, unknowing that Sam had heard him and had mouthed, 'I know."