Dean wakes up slow, darkness fracturing into cracks of soft light that widen and brighten until the black behind his closed eyelids shifts fluidly to a quiet gray and blue glow. Consciousness is easy with him for the first time in what feels like years. He's warm and comfortable, there's pain in his abdomen that spreads outwards in all directions to settle in his extremities but it's dull and manageable. The mattress he's lying on is softer than any he's ever been on before, and the blankets tucked around him are soft and warm and nice. He is, in fact, so intensely comfortable that it would be so easy just to fall back asleep here in his burrito of blankets and soft soft soft bed.
Except that it smells a little bit like fire and something completely acrid and sour, and just as he's about to open his eyes and figure out what the hell it is that could possibly smell so damn bad, there's a blast of fucking frigid air that forces the matter for him.
His eyelashes are crusty with sleep and it takes him a few tries to pry them open, but when he does he sees Sam, tall and gangly and slouching so he doesn't hit his head on the door frame as he steps over the threshold. He's bundled in one of his own jackets over one of Dean's and there's snow in his hair. His cheeks and nose are red, as well as his hands, one of which is wrapped around a plastic grocery bag.
When he sees Dean, his face breaks into a smile that's dopey and ridiculous and makes Dean want to punch him in the face to give him a manly bruise and buy him a candy bar both at the same time. He settles for yawning at him insolently, and Sam snorts a soft laugh and closes the door.
"You're awake," Sam says. He toes off his boots and shrugs out of their jackets. Dean watches, vaguely curious, still a little doped up on the last shot of morphine he got at the hospital before Sam smuggled him out last night. He wets his dry lips and lifts a heavy hand and jabs a finger lazily in Sam's direction.
"You," he tells him, "are an insightful bastard."
Sam rolls his eyes and shuffles over to the bed, moving like he doesn't quite have all of the feeling in his legs. It must be pretty freezing outside. Sam's never done well with cold.
"And you're a dick," Sam says easily. Dean crosses his eyes to follow the giant little brother hand that comes down to his forehead, closes them when careful fingers push back through his hair. The long sleeve of Sam's t-shirt smells like outside, clean and cool and like Christmas trees, like gin without the buzz, and his hand is fucking cold but Dean's feeling just warm enough that it's kind of a relief. "How're you feeling?" Sam asks, his voice low and even.
"'m fine," Dean murmurs, tilting his head into the hand still in his hair. He sighs softly when it drops, fingers grazing over his cheek and chin before Sam draws his it back. Opening his eyes is harder the second time, but Dean manages. Sam's nose is Rudolph red. Dean reaches up and curls his fingers delicately into the torso of Sam's shirt. "It smells like ass in here. Burned ass."
"Which is the worst kind of ass," Sam agrees at once, which is just stating the obvious, so Dean tugs on his shirt a little and then uses that leverage to try and sit up.
It's a mistake. Pain lances through him from what was seventy-two hours ago a gaping hole in his gut and he can't stop the soft, strangled sound that works its way out of his throat. He harshes it up with the loudest, "Holyfuckingshit," he can manage, but even that is barely above a whisper and black spots are dancing in front of his eyes and he thinks it sounds like a fucking fantastic idea to throw up all over Sam's shoes right about now.
But then the bed is dipping at his side and there are hands on his back, broad and cold and steady, easing Dean the rest of the way up. Dean sinks his teeth into his bottom lip until skin splits and he tasted blood, the pain fading but slowly, still too intense to talk through. He lets Sam move him around, feels the blankets shift around him and then each of Sam's long, long legs settle on either side of his own. The hurt crescendos and fades and Dean rolls with it, loses himself in it, rides the waves as well as he can and when he comes back to himself, Sam is behind him and Dean's leaning back into his chest. His entire body throbs dully, but he can handle it, and Sam is warm like a furnace at his back and there are careful fingers rubbing slow and soothing circles over the side of his neck. Dean tilts his head further back on Sam's shoulder to give him better access.
"Can't you just be still?" Sam asks, exasperated, his voice low and Dean can hear the fear in it even if Sam would never admit to it.
"No," Dean says.
"I swear to God, it's like the hospital all over again, except this time we don't have a six-ton orderly to keep you from crawling out of bed."
"Jeff," Dean mutters darkly. "Slimy roid-raging bastard."
"I gave him a Christmas card," Sam says at once. "I signed your name."
Dean frowns deeply and turns his head, pulls back just enough to see Sam's stupid face with its stupid smug grin. "You did not."
"It had a snowman on it," Sam says. "He was wearing a top hat. And a scarf."
"When you least expect it," Dean says, "I'm going to cut all your hair off while you sleep."
Sam huffs a soft laugh. "Please. You love my hair."
"Shut up," Dean says, turning back around and closing his eyes again. Sam's hair is stupid. It's only good for pulling, which makes Sam's eyes roll back in his head with pleasure, sick bastard that he is. "Why's it smell like ass in here?"
He doesn't need to be looking at his brother to know that Sam must be blushing, because the way he stiffens and his hand falters on the side of Dean's neck is more than enough of a tell. Dean feels a smirk spread across his face almost involuntarily. This should be good.
"I. Uh," Sam starts intelligently. "I tried to make breakfast."
Dean laughs, which hurts, but feels really good, too, like stretching a sore muscle. He braces his wounded stomach with his arm and when his laughter turns into coughing, Sam pats at his back and rubs at his shoulder and calls him a douchebag.
Sam can't cook. Dean can't either, but Sam is the kind of bad at it that they write sonnets about. When he was fifteen Sam tried to make Kraft Mac-N-Cheese and, before he even opened the box, managed to set the room they were staying in on fire. Their dad had to make up new swear words as he hauled them both outside and Dean will never forget Sam's crestfallen, nonplussed face as he pointed at the flames through the window and kept repeating, "I was just trying to boil the water."
"What'd you try to make?" Dean asks, voice rough and raw, and he hurts but he feels better than he has in a long time, too.
"Waffles," Sam says.
Dean cackles his way into another coughing fit. "What went wrong?"
He feels Sam shrug behind him. "I don't. I mean. I'm not real sure. It just. It kind of exploded in the waffle iron? The smoke alarm went off and everything. I can't believe you didn't wake up."
Dean can't even help the grin on his face, wide and unabashed. He pats Sam's knee heartily under the covers and turns his head to nose at Sam's neck. "That's it, Sammy," he says seriously. "We're giving up this life of crime and punishment and entering the wide, lucrative world of restaurant management. You'll be our chef. It'll be just like what we do now, except salt-and-burn will take on a whole new meaning."
"Shut up, Dean," Sam says moodily.
Dean's still grinning, and when Sam's big hand rests so, so carefully on his stomach, well away from the bandage that's taped over the huge wound in his side, it's so careful that it makes Dean almost uncomfortable. Sam's fingers fit into the gaps between Dean's ribs and the pad of his thumb presses so careful into the skin just to the left of Dean's navel. The tip of Dean's nose is still touching Sam's neck. Dean exhales gently.
"So why'd you try to make breakfast, anyway?" he asks sleepily.
"It's Christmas," Sam says.
"Christmas Waffles," Dean says, amused.
"Well," Sam says, and with his free hand he's reaching for the plastic grocery bag he dropped on the bed next to them. Dean watches him pick it up by the bottom and pour it out. Its contents include a two pack of pink-coconut Snowballs, Hostess Cupcakes with the curly white icing on top and the cream filling, a box of Twinkies, and a Snickers bar. "More like Christmas Crap. Breakfast in bed, a la Sam Winchester."
Dean doesn't know what to say. The idea of Sam trying to make him breakfast is kind of touching, even in its complete and utter failure. Moreso because of it. Sam has been exceptionally nice since the Wendigo ripped Dean open. He's been polite and conscientious and accommodating. He's touching Dean now like Dean's made of glass and spun sugar. Dean pushes back into his chest, turns his face into Sam's neck and swallows hard when Sam's free hand settles on the back of his head, palm cradling the base of his skull.
"M'not gonna break, Sammy. Still alive. Still kickin'."
Sam's mouth presses to the top of Dean's head, not a kiss but nothing casual about it. His lips are pressed tight together and Dean rubs his hand soothingly up and down Sam's leg, curls his fingers to push the pads into the back of his knees.
''m tired of seeing you in a hospital bed, man," Sam murmurs. "Tubes in your nose, down your throat. Happens too much."
"I can't help that I'm such a tasty treat, kid. Monsters, they're drawn to my indefinable allure."
"Shut up," Sam says, and he's not joking anymore. "You almost died, Dean. For real, not soul-selling or Hell hounds or, or angel interference. You were bleeding all over the snow and I could see your fucking intestines, Dean. You almost died."
"Sam," Dean says, but he doesn't know how to respond. Sam cuts him off before he needs to, anyway.
"I know you're not going to break but I sure as hell am, so let me treat you like a delicate little flower until I get the fuck over it, okay?"
Dean smiles, sad and wide. He tugs at the back of Sam's knee until it bends. Sam takes it from there, wraps his leg loosely around Dean, knee and calf resting over Dean's shins. His hands slide down Dean's sides and slip into the pockets of Dean's sleeping pants, and Dean reaches back and tugs lightly on Sam's stupid hair.
"Okay," he says. He understands. He really does. "Sure, Sammy. Okay."
"Okay," Sam agrees. "Now eat the breakfast I cooked for you."
Dean grins and grabs the box of Twinkies. "Hey," he says.
"Merry Christmas, kiddo."
He can feel Sam's smile against his head, his breath ruffling Dean's hair. "Merry Christmas, Dean."