1. This is pure sap. I only wrote it because I wanted some schmoopy brotherly moments in the cozy, domestic bunker. I thrive on those. And because I like to think that Dean is well-versed in clever little domestic tricks. And because nothing is cuter than Dean taking care of meek, sick Sammy.
2. More importantly, I feel terrible posting this before posting a new chapter on Well Oiled Machine, but I'm stuck on that one, and other things (like this) just can't wait when I think of them. I AM SO SORRY. I am still working on WOM, but the going is slow and I need to get in the groove again. Don't worry. I shall succeed! Eventually. I love that story and refuse to give up on it. Need to find its voice again. Hopefully very very soon! Many things have come up in life to get in the way of it.
AAAND... 3. I honestly don't know if the bunker has a fireplace or not, but I think it ought to, so it will continue to be featured whenever I like :)
It was... well, pitiful. That was honestly the most accurate word he could think of to describe how he felt. He liked the bunker, or at least was learning to, but at moments like this it was just... too big. Too many rooms to cover when looking, too many halls to glance down, too many possibilities, when he just needed... well, to put it plainly he just needed his big brother. As soon as possible, preferably.
Sam was definitely, definitely sick. He knew that now, though he'd been trying to deny it for the past couple days. He ignored the symptoms, didn't do anything about it, and now he was paying for it. His sinuses were so blocked up that it was manifesting in a dull, painful, pressure headache behind his eyes. God, it hurt. He was freezing too, couldn't seem to get warm even with wool socks, and a sweatshirt over his long-sleeved shirt. He needed Dean.
He wasn't necessarily planning on telling Dean how sick he was, because that would just make him hover, but his brother had a presence that seemed to drive away Sam's concerns, no matter what the case may be. He hadn't seen Dean for several hours, mostly due to the fact he had opted for a nap earlier, but when he woke up feeling disoriented, sicker, and more than a little lost, he wished he had just stuck around wherever Dean was.
The headache was just getting worse, and he blinked back involuntary tears as he shuffled through the study, deciding he better check the kitchen before lying down somewhere to die alone. A rush of dizziness flowed through him as he looked down to watch his step on the stairs, and he yanked a hand out of his hoodie pocket to steady himself on the wall. Not good, but on a brighter note he could hear noises in the kitchen. Yahtzee. Unless it was Kevin, in which case Sam would just give up.
He rounded the corner and warm relief flooded him for a moment. His brother was washing the damn dishes. He would never get used to that. Dean had his back to the door as he leaned against the sink and idly dropped a couple forks into the rinse water. A small am/fm radio was propped behind the sink, Guns'n'Roses crackling through quietly, and Dean's surprisingly in-tune voice joining softly. Sam just watched for a minute or two, the domesticity of the scene before him resonating in an unfamiliar, but somehow desperately missed sort of way.
"What's up, mouth-breather?"
He gave a surprised cough, and then couldn't stop more from forcing out through his ragged throat. He quickly regained control, pointedly ignoring the tickle still at the back of his mouth. "Nothin'," he answered quickly, resisting the urge to wrap his arms around his cold midsection, and instead carefully easing himself into a chair at the table. When he looked back up Dean had turned around to lean his hip against the counter, drying his hands off and watching Sam impassively.
"Mouth-breather?" Sam asked in mock indignation, trying not to squint against the pain.
"Yeah, somethin' wrong with your nose? I can never hear you breathing."
Sam thought about that for a moment, realizing that, indeed, the congested state of his nose was forcing him to breath shallowly through just his mouth. He shrugged, still trying to play it off, even though he knew Dean was catching on. "Nah, I'm fine," he said casually, looking away from Dean to observe the meticulously cleaned and organized kitchen. In all honesty sometimes Dean surprised the shit out of Sam, what with his newfound penchant for what he begrudgingly called "nesting".
"You just seemed a little off, is all," Dean remarked, equally casual as he nonchalantly turned on the hot water and let it run while he strode purposefully across the kitchen to grab a large tin bowl and a clean towel off a shelf.
Sam shrugged again, a little thrown by Dean's calm nature and wondering if he could really tell if he was sick or not. It wasn't like it was that big of a deal, and anyways Dean kept reminding him that he still wasn't firing on all cylinders after the whole trials thing. Sam hadn't had much to say to that except that he didn't appreciate being compared to a car. His headache spiked again, and in lieu of crying or, god forbid, whimpering, he closed his eyes and contemplated asking Dean to just knock him out cold or something. It would be better than this.
He jumped in his seat a little when a dry, warm hand buried itself in the silky hair at the base of his neck, and he opened his eyes to watch Dean set a bowl of hot water on the table in front of him. He didn't say a word, but just gently pushed Sam's head down so his nose almost touched the steaming water and carefully arranged the towel over his head, tucking in the edges and effectively creating a steam tent. "Watch the bowl," he murmured. "Water in this place gets damn hot."
Sam was silent as he felt the steam start to curl around his face, and he listened to Dean putter about for a minute before pulling up a chair next him. His knee knocked Sam's deliberately, affectionately, and Sam's eyes welled unexpectedly. The heat on his face was making the rest of him feel colder, and he couldn't stop a shiver from ghosting down his back. Dean sighed, softly but with no irritation, and he scooted his chair a little closer so he could rub his palm down Sam's spine.
"How long have you been sick?" He asked patiently.
Sam was the very picture of rejection, his sock feet curled together, big knees sticking out awkwardly. No matter where they went, there were just never chairs tall enough for giant Sam. His hands were tucked up into his sweatshirt sleeves and crossed over his stomach, and he was now shivering constantly, although nearly imperceptibly. "Couple days... I think," he finally whispered, not quite trusting his voice to not crack. "Didn' think it was that big a deal."
Dean ran a hand over his mouth and stared unseeing at the opposite wall of the kitchen, fighting the instinctual urge to give Sam a good talking to for not telling him when something was wrong. The trials had whipped the hell out of his little brother, much more than Sam himself knew, and he was obviously far more susceptible to even common bugs.
Sam mistook his silence, and fidgeted, wracked again with another shudder. "Sorry I didn't tell you..." he offered meekly, his voice muffled under the towel, and Dean immediately felt guilty.
"Sammy..." he sighed, not sure how to tell Sam just how much he cared and worried without it becoming a damn sob fest. "Quit talking and breathe," he finished up with instead. "I'll be right back."
Sam's shoulders slumped when the warm pressure of Dean's hand lifted, but as he listened to his brother's footsteps fade his mind kept going back to small, seemingly insignificant little things. Dean's knee bumping his. The way he said "Sammy". Technically it was simple, every day things that were just part of Dean, but for some reason the affection in those actions was standing out blatantly to Sam. He wasn't sure if the day would end with no tears shed.
By the time Dean came back, the water had cooled significantly and Sam's hair was sticking in damp curls to his face and neck. He didn't move though, not until Dean told him to. A heavy warmth draped around his shoulders, and he poked his cold fingers out of his sleeves to pull the wool blanket tighter around him. Dean rubbed his hand briskly over Sam's head through the towel and dropped back into his chair. "See if you can try and snork some of that phlegm out," he ordered, not unkindly. "It's gotta be giving you a killer headache, huh?"
Sam nodded his head jerkily, and resisted the urge to sniff as snot dripped out of his nose. It suddenly struck him as funny, and he chuckled a little, then coughed. "Snork," he croaked. "Why is that funny?"
Dean's hand was on his shoulder again, rubbing a warm circle, and Sam could picture the way his eyes crinkled when he smiled. "'Cause I said it, you nerd," he said warmly, chuckling a little himself. "And 'cause most things are funny when you're like this. Have I ever told you that you turn into a giant five-year old when you're sick, Sam?"
"Lots," Sam gurgled. "Like, all the time."
"Yeah, well, that's 'cause it's true."
Sam didn't bother answering, just leaned into Dean's touch a little and tested his breathing. It was definitely clearer, and the pressure between his eyes had eased up a bit, but now the condensation on his face was starting to grow cold. He thought about saying something, but decided to wait. And, sure enough, mere seconds later Dean was leaning forward to pull the towel off his head and nudge him to sit upright. Sam slumped back in his chair with an involuntary sigh and closed his eyes, willing the release of pressure to last.
"Better?" Dean asked quietly, using the towel to push Sam's damp hair off his face and dry the condensation that was starting to streak down his neck. He watched Sam closely, gauging. His normally pale face had a rosy glow to it from the steam, and his breathing did seem easier. Still.
"A little," Sam answered. "Head doesn't hurt so much."
Dean nodded and continued drying Sam's head, moving on to the longer strands of hair that clung to his neck. He still wished the kid would cut his stupid hair, but sometimes he wondered if it would seem like there was a little less Sam in the world if he did. And that would be just wrong.
He tossed the towel onto the table and ran his fingers through the tangled mop of chocolate brown one last time, totally NOT finger-combing his little brother's hair.
"Go crash in the library and I'll come build a fire," he murmured. "S'not a good idea for you to be cold."
Sam watched a little blearily as Dean pushed up from the table and busied himself emptying the bowl of water and finding more things to right in the kitchen. He set a small pot of water to boiling, put a mug out on the counter, and shot Sam a warning glance as he tossed a box of tea down next to it.
"Not a word, bitch," he muttered, a little embarrassed to be observed while he went to such lengths to care for Sam.
But Sam could barely pull himself together long enough to whisper "Jerk," back at his brother, and when Dean looked at him again he was smiling, slow and warm, and his hazel eyes were positively starry.
"Oh my god," Dean thought. "Pathetic."