5.03, castiel, fanfic, fic, s5, sick!dean, spn
Fic: "Lost Saints" (spoilers through 5.03)
Title: "Lost Saints"
Genre: gen, h/c
Characters: Dean, Castiel
Word Count: ~1,600
Spoilers: through 5.03
Prompt: Dean is sick, Castiel is worried, and slightly out of his element.
a/n: yup, title from Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 43.
His cell phone's insistent ringing pried Dean out of a hard-won sleep.
It stopped after six, though, and he dared to hope that whoever it was had given up. He hitched the blankets over his shoulders, dug his cheek into the pillow, and tried to ignore that fact that even with enough cold medicine in him to stop a freight train he still felt like crap.
The phone started ringing again.
With a groan, Dean pushed up on an elbow and fumbled around on the nightstand, even the slight change in angle making him dizzy and a little sick.
"Dean." Castiel's voice was as dry and gravelly as a summer creek bed. The angel didn't wait for an answer, just launched into a complex explanation of a new set of clues for his divine bear hunt. Dean couldn't really follow; he was having a hard enough time keeping his eyes open.
The cold or flu or whatever it was had totally ninja-ed him. Seemed like one minute he'd been swiping ineffectually at a runny nose and ignoring the dull ache between his shoulder blades, and the next he'd been wrestling a bone-cracking fever, barely cogent enough to pull off at the next motel, dig the over-the-counter cold 'n flu stuff out of the bottom of his duffle bag, and collapse in a heap on the lumpy bed.
Oh well. At least one good thing about not having Sam around was that his brother wasn't here to fuss over him torturously, chivvying him into the shower, taking his temperature, plying him with various non-caffeinated and un-sugared beverages. Dean was free to do the only thing he ever really wanted to do when he was sick: dose himself with enough Nyquil to sleep like a log through the worst of it.
Which had been going fine up 'til now.
Castiel had clearly come to a place where he felt a response was warranted, because he was saying "Dean?' and then again more insistently, "Dean?"
"Yeah, Cas, I'm here. Look—" Dean started, voice rough and strained even to his own ears.
"You don't sound well," Castiel's tone sharpened, "Has something happened?"
"Nah. Just picked up some bug. I'm gonna help you, Cas, I am, but if we could put it off for a day, coupla hours even—
"Where are you?" the angel interrupted.
"Virginia. Somewhere between Fredericksburg and Richmond. Motel 6. But look, I'm just gonna sleep it off—"
The phone went dead.
Dean slid back down to horizontal and closed his eyes. He pretty much knew what was going to happen next, so when he blinked them open again he wasn't surprised to find Castiel perched way too close to him on the side of the bed, peering at him with what he supposed was angelic concern.
"Cas," he acknowledged wearily. The angel pressed a cool, dry hand to his forehead.
"You have a fever," he said.
"No shit," Dean irritably jerked his head away, "That's what I was trying to tell you. So, look, I'm not gonna be much use to you tonight. I really just need to get some rest. Lemme call you in the morning, and we can pick it from there, yeah?" He was sorry to sound so petulant, but maybe that would get Castiel out of his face. No such luck.
"Really, I'll be fine, just gonna sleep, you know?"
Suddenly, Dean was too wrecked to care. "Whatever, man, knock yourself out." He turned on his side and burrowed under the blankets again.
He drifted back into consciousness once during the night, just awake enough to catalog the damage: throat: raw; every muscle in his body: sore; head: aching like someone was tightening a vise. He slitted his eyes open; the room was dim, lit only by a sliver of light from the partly open bathroom door.
Someone had drawn a chair up close to the foot of the bed, and was sitting, straight-backed, hands on knees, watching him. For one lurchingly vertiginous moment, Dean thought it was Sam.
Then he realized that the figure was too slight to be his brother, too short. Besides, if Sam had seen fit to take up some kind of ridiculous bedside vigil, he would've had the good grace to pretend to watch TV. Dean was kind of impressed Castiel had even remembered to sit down.
The angel leaned forward so that the band of light illuminated his face. He cocked his head minutely at Dean, in a gesture which seemed to mean go back to sleep. So Dean did.
He could tell when the drugs started to wear off, because he began to dream.
He was standing in a gray and empty place, the layer of scree beneath his feet sharp and uneven, the sky a swathe of unbroken, menacing cloud. A frigid, damp wind whistled around him, icy fingers snaking around his ankles, down his neck, into his ears.
He was watching his brother's broad back as Sam walked away.
And he knew, knew with the pure certainty that one sometimes has in dreams, that if Sam were to turn around, Dean wouldn't like what he saw.
So he tried not to call out, and yet he heard a voice so hoarse and soft it couldn't possibly be his saying his brother's name over and over again.
But the voice that answered wasn't Sam's, and the hands that held him back when he tried to follow weren't Sam's either. He would have known Sam's hands anywhere, and these were smaller, less calloused.
"Dean," the voice said, grave and sure, "wake up. You're dreaming, Dean. Wake up."
In a burst of unthinking fury over the simple fact of it being not-Sam, Dean swung at whoever was holding him down, tried to wrench himself out of the hands gripping his shoulders. But they had a tensile strength of their own, and he couldn't get away.
After a moment, he gave up, and opened his eyes, held the gaze of the blue ones looking down at him.
Castiel's face softened almost imperceptibly, and he helped Dean sit up against the headboard. "You're dreaming," he said again, more gently, "it's only a dream." And he made a shushing sound that Dean thought was probably the kind of noise Jimmy had used to soothe his daughter long ago.
It was that sound, combined with the burning knife wound of loss left over from the dream, that made Dean duck his head, draw a ragged little moan of air down his raw throat.
Castiel touched the backs of his fingers to Dean's cheek. "Your fever's gotten higher," he said quietly, "do you have anything you can take for it?'
"Mmm," Dean managed, "Tylenol. Bathroom, next to the sink."
The angel brought him the pills, and some water. But the chill of the dream clung to Dean, and his skin was crawling with cold even after he cocooned himself again in the covers. Castiel frowned at him, and then rummaged through the room's drawers and closets until he found another threadbare blanket. But it was like adding an extra layer of ice to the igloo, and Dean could feel the artic waters gradually claiming him.
Castiel watched him shiver for a bit, then moved out of his line of sight. Dean felt the bed dip as the angel sat down on the other side, the headboard creak as he leaned against it and drew his legs up.
Without letting himself think about it, telling himself he was too wrung out for it to mean anything, Dean rolled over, and pressed his forehead against Castiel's hip. The angel laid a heavy and surprising warm arm along his back, and Dean didn't protest, just let the weight of it anchor him against the shaking, until the fever backed off some, and he slid down into sleep.
Dean woke again to full daylight, sun streaming into the room between drawn curtains. He was alone in the bed, his t-shirt sticking damply to his skin, sweat slicking the hollow of his collarbone and the small of his back.
A muted rustling or clacking was emanating from the corner that held the mini-fridge and the coffee machine.
Dean gingerly swung his legs over the side of the bed and took stock. His throat still hurt and he thought he was probably still running a low-grade temp, but he wasn't bent double with body aches anymore, or shaking hard enough to fly apart, so he was gonna count it as a win.
He scrounged in his bag for a dry shirt. "Cas?" he said cautiously, because he couldn't figure out what the angel was up to, or even what he was still doing here .
Castiel turned around slowly, holding miscellaneous pieces of the coffee maker in both hands, and wearing an expression of surprisingly transparent annoyance.
Dean laughed at the pure incongruity of it. "Dude," he said, "you're telling me you can outsmart an archangel, but you're defeated by the automatic drip?" Castiel glared at him. "Just leave it," he went on, "we'll hit a drive-thru."
"No coffee," Castiel said, stern as Judgment Day, "you're still unwell." He tilted his head hopefully, "Do they have tea at the drive-thru?"
"Sure they do," Dean answered, hoping he wasn't lying, "and egg sandwiches. My treat, 'cause…um…thanks….for staying."
Castiel just inclined his head in acknowledgement, and put down the parts of the coffee machine with what Dean could only interpret as a sigh of relief.