Summary: Dean's sick. Somehow, it manages not to be so bad.
Characters: Dean, Sam
Disclaimer: None of it is mine. Just playing.
Warnings: Schmoop. Nothing else. So, basically, no warnings.
Neurotic Author's Note #1: Okay, so I decided to just write pure, unadulterated schmoop. Just because.
Neurotic Author's Note #2: Unbeta'd fluff.
It's been raining ever since they decided to bypass Cleveland in favour of getting a little further down the road. Dean tossed the keys to Sam —the Winchester code phrase for 'I trust you' which now doubles as 'I'm glad you're not in Hell and even gladder you're you'— back at the last diner and settled into the passenger seat with only the smallest of eyebrow quirks at Sam's choice of music. Rules are rules, after all. Okay, and maybe quiet country music isn't all that bad right now, because his head kind of hurts and his throat has been scratchy since he woke up, so it means he can nap a little bit. Not that he's getting sick, or anything. Of course not. He's just a little tired.
Somewhere between the seventh sneeze and the third coughing fit, Sam pulls up in front of a motel. Dean scrubs at his nose with the back of his wrist.
“Dude, it's not even five yet. What gives?”
Sam twists in his seat and gives him what is probably the most epic bitchface he's managed in months. “You're sick, so we're stopping.”
“Come on, Sam, I'm not—” Dean's protest gets cut off by a wet sneeze that snaps him forward so fast he almost smacks his forehead against the dashboard. He fumbles a napkin out of the glove compartment and concedes Sam's point with a deprecating hand-flap as he wipes his nose.
Sam shoves him unceremoniously toward the bathroom once they're inside, one hand planted firmly between his shoulder blades. “Go on, take a shower. Use as much hot water as you want, I'll get the first shower in the morning. I'm going to see if I can find a drug store, pick up some stuff for you.”
Dean sniffles, nods, doesn't bother answering. He's actually kind of grateful to be stopping early. He's kind of past the age where he can get away with just trying to ride out even the common cold —not that he'll ever admit that to Sam, even under pain of torture— and the hot water feels really nice as it hits his back, easing some of the stiffness from his muscles. The relief is short-lived, though. Almost as soon as he's out of the shower and dry he starts sneezing again, congestion adding itself to the sore throat and aching muscles. He glares at his reflection in the mirror, towels his hair dry, and pulls on a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt from his duffel. He hesitates for a minute, looking at the bed, then shrugs and rummages through his bag until he finds the ratty old brown hoodie he inherited from Sam when his little brother suddenly grew twenty-seven sizes overnight, tugs it over his head. It's worn and faded and the sleeves are beginning to fray, but it's warm and fuzzy and never fails to make him feel better when he's got a cold.
By the time Sam gets back he's burrowed under the covers, watching some sitcom out of the corner of his eye but not really paying attention, coughing miserably. For a moment he contemplates not moving at all, but the prospect of nasty-tasting cough medicine is actually kind of appealing, so he shoves himself up onto one elbow when he feels the bed dip under Sam's weight. His brother holds up a little paper bag and crinkles it meaningfully.
“Got you the cherry kind. Sit up.”
He heaves a sigh, drags himself to a sitting position, takes the spoon Sam hands to him, along with the newly-opened bottle of syrup. When he's finished making a face at the taste he finds Sam holding out a glass of water and Tylenol, his face screwed up with worry, and Dean feels an unexpected surge of warmth in his chest. After months of living with a guy who wore Sam's face but had none of his expressions, it's reassuring to know that that, right there, is all Sam. One hundred percent little brother. He swallows his pills, then just about chokes on his water when Sam abruptly reaches over to feel his forehead.
“Sab, what?” he asks irritably, even more annoyed when it comes out all congested. “Don't paw at be.”
“Just checking for fever.”
“I'b fide. It's just a cold.”
Sam nods, but he still looks worried. “Yeah, okay. You want anything else? I got some instant soup if you're hungry.”
“I'b fide,” he repeats, and makes a show of sliding back under the covers. “Just sleep it off.”
His brother huffs a laugh. “Sure. Tell me if you need anything.”
It's a good plan in theory, but in practice sleeping it off turns out to be problematic when he spends the entire evening coughing into his pillow. When he's not coughing he's sneezing, and when he's not sneezing his head throbs from the congestion. For the most part Sam tries to remain inconspicuous, but a worried Sam is about as subtle as a wolfhound on roller skates. Before Dean knows it he's found an extra blanket to tuck up over his shoulders, has refilled the water glass so many times that Dean's pretty sure he'll be up half the night pissing, and has insisted that Dean take a whole bunch more pills. He's watching Dean with an expression that suggests he's expecting him to spontaneously combust at any moment, which normally would piss Dean off to no end, but after months of having Sam virtually ignore him, right now he finds he really doesn't mind all that much. So instead of snapping at Sam to quit freaking hovering already, he just coughs, scrubs at his nose with a tissue and shakes his head.
“Take a picture, it'll last longer.” He sneezes, looks up to find Sam still watching him. “What?”
Sam just slides further up on the bed and wraps a hand around his forehead. “Fever's not that bad,” he says, almost to himself.
“Sab, seriously, what gives?”
His brother scrunches up his face. “You feeling okay?”
“Doh, I have a cold. I feel like crap.”
Sam huffs impatiently. “No, I mean other than that. You didn't run into anything strange? Piss off any witches? Fiddle around with artifacts or hex bags or something?”
“Doh,” he shakes his head, utterly confused. “Why?”
“You're acting weird.”
“Ab I?” his voice cracks a little and he's more than a little grateful for the glass of water Sam immediately hands him. “How? I dod't feel differedt.”
“This,” Sam flaps a hand at him. “Normally when you have a cold you stop talking to me, refuse to do anything except sleep in the car and act like a total asshole. I usually have to sit on you to take even so much as one Tylenol capsule, and generally you have to be delirious with fever and this close to dying before you'll even admit you're sick. You're not running more than a couple of degrees of fever now, so can you blame me for being worried?”
Dean coughs, shrugs. “Baybe I'b getting bore bature?” he ventures, and Sam laughs.
“Not likely. Okay, so you're not cursed or anything?”
Dean shakes his head, can't help the smile that tugs at his lips. “It's fuddy that you think so, though,” he says, then shivers a little. “I'b cold,” he complains.
“You want some more soup?”
He shakes his head. “Too buch to drink already.”
“There aren't anymore blankets, but maybe I could get the front desk to cough some up... what?” Sam asks suddenly, and Dean realizes he's grinning stupidly at his little brother in spite of himself.
“You haven't had enough cough syrup to be stoned... Oh my God,” Sam barks out a laugh.
Sam's whole face has lit up, like it's suddenly Christmas and his birthday (a good birthday, not the shitty ones he's had lately) all at once, maybe with Thanksgiving thrown in for good measure. “Oh my God, you're enjoying this!”
Dean sits up. “What? Doh!” his voice cracks again and he coughs. “I'b sick. I'b dot edjoying adything!”
Sam is beaming at him. “You sneaky son of a bitch. You're enjoying getting coddled.”
“Sab...” he can't quite bring himself to deny it.
The next thing he knows, Sam has slung an arm around his shoulders and hauled him into a hug. He flails a little, though it's mostly for show, and Sam laughs in his ear. “Shut up, Dean. You have no foot to stand on, here. I dare you to tell me you want me to leave you alone.” His breath is warm against Dean's neck, and when Dean stays silent he squeezes him a little harder. “Yeah, that's what I thought. So be quiet and submit to getting cuddled. I seem to recall that you 'wuv hugs' anyway.”
“'s low, dude,” Dean mutters, but he wriggles a little in Sam's arms until he's comfortable, basking in the heat radiating from his brother. “I was three. You're lucky you're warb.”
Sam tugs the spare blanket tighter around them. “Yeah,” he murmurs, “very lucky.”